|Having a good estate plan in place is crucial to ensuring your family isn’t faced with unneeded stress and agony upon your passing. Creating a living trust as part of the estate plan is the best possible way to protect your estate assets and ensure your family avoids stressful court probate proceedings later on. We have all the information you need to begin the process of establishing a living trust.|
“I started Living Trust Authority so that I could save you all the time, effort and money I handed over in trying to better understand how the process worked” – Charles (founder of LivingTrustAuthority)
To get started, living trusts do have different requirements and regulations in each state. Please select your state below to get access on how to make a living trust as well as answers to common questions around state trust law.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What is a Living Trust
A Living Trust is set up and put into effect while you are still alive. It is revocable which means you can make changes to it as you see fit. You can transfer some or all of your assets to it initially and have the remainder transferred to it upon your death by creating a Pour-over-Will. You can also establish what’s called an irrevocable living trust, this trust can not be changed once created. This type of trust is typically beneficial if you have a lot of property or expensive assets as it can help with estate taxes. (see Revocable vs. Irrevocable Living Trust)
The Living Trust is used to manage your property while you are alive and after you have passed on. It establishes the way your assets and any income they generate are managed and distributed after your death. In the event you become disabled or incapacitated, the Trust can still be managed by a successor trustee you have named.
What is a Declaration of Trust?
A Declaration of Trust refers to the document used to list the terms of a living trust. When a person creates a living trust, a declaration of trust document is executed and signed. The individual who creates the living trust will include their name, address, and date that the trust goes into effect. At this point, the individual who declares the trust (the grantor) will also list a trustee, the individual or entity that will be charged with managing assets and property in the trust. In most cases, the grantor and trustee are the same person. The grantor will also include a successor trustee on the declaration; in the event that the original trustee is unable to serve or passes away, this individual will then take over care of the trust. The declaration will also contain the names of the intended beneficiaries as well as specifics on how the property and assets of the trust will be distributed among them.
Last Will and Testament or Living Trust?
With a Last Will and Testament, the document becomes public following your death. It is subject to probate court and allows the court to handle any challenges made with regard to beneficiaries or disputes raised by creditors. Any assets owned in another state are subject to probate hearings in that state. For the Last Will and Testament to be executed properly, you will also need to set up either a Power of Attorney or a Conservatorship to manage assets.
Living Trusts remain private following your death and no part of the documents are made public. They are also not subject to probate court and therefore avoid any associated costs. Assets in other states also avoid probate as long as they are part of the trust. Living Trusts do not provide automatic court supervision to settle disputes among beneficiaries or creditors.
What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is an individual or institution put in charge of overseeing the day-to-day management of property and assets placed in the living trust. A Trustee, as mentioned, can be an individual or institution, such as a bank or trust firm. You can also set up the trustee to be a combination of the two as well. In addition to the original trustee, a successor trustee will also be named. This individual or institution, will assume full responsibilities of the trust if the trustee becomes unable to serve or passes away.
What is Probate Court?
Most of us have probably heard of probate court at some point in our lives and we’ve been told to try and avoid it, even though we might not necessarily know why. To begin, probate isn’t typically a formal court proceeding in the same way you would think of a civil or criminal trial. If fact, most of the probate process is clerical in nature (a lot of forms to fill out). The only time probate might go into a formal setting is if there was a contesting party or some sort of conflict that needed a judge’s resolution.
In most cases, your probate attorney will spend most of their time, not in court, but filing a large stack of forms and making sure specific deadlines are met. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? So then why are we told by countless industry experts to avoid probate like the plague? The reason is two-fold:
- Probate takes a rather lengthy time to conclude. In most cases, property and assets will be tied up for more than a year (average case time is 12-18 months).
- Probate cost and fees can be quite expensive. Depending on your specific state law, attorney and court fees can add up to 5% or more of an estate’s value.
Living Trust Authority
At it’s heart, LivingTrustAuthority.net is a hub for everything you would need to know about establishing a living trust. How to avoid probate, what’s the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust, and what steps you need to take if you find yourself the successor trustee.
There are a lot of resources available online about living trusts, however, most of the websites we have come across are not very user-friendly. In fact, most of these sites can leave you even more confused than when you arrived. The goal of LivingTrustAuthority.net is to make things as streamlined and easy as possible for you to follow. We want to walk you through the entire process so you can focus on taking care of your loved ones, and less on setting up your living trust or figuring out what to do if you’re the successor trustee.
Please at any time should you have questions, don’t hesitate to use the contact form to get in touch with us. We will definitely get back to you as soon as possible. We are not lawyers, however, and can not dispense any sort of legal advice. Should you have specific legal questions, please direct those to a trust/probate lawyer in your area. Smart estate planning begins here!