What is a Revocable Living Trust and Why Should I Consider One?

Aug-22 2023

When it comes to estate planning, there are various tools and strategies available to ensure the smooth transfer of assets as well as protect the interests of your loved ones. One such tool that has gained popularity in recent years is the revocable living trust. This legal arrangement allows individuals to maintain control over their assets during their lifetime while providing an efficient distribution of assets after their passing.

A revocable living trust is a legal document that holds your assets and specifies how they should be managed during your lifetime and after your death. Unlike a will, which only takes effect upon your death, a revocable living trust becomes active as soon as it is created. It is called "revocable" because you retain the ability to modify or revoke the trust at any time during your lifetime, as long as you are mentally competent.

There are many benefits of creating your own revocable living trust. Here are a few key benefits of establishing a revocable living trust:

1. Avoidance of probate:

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person's assets are distributed according to their will or state laws if there is no will. Probate can be time-consuming, expensive, and subject to public record. By placing your assets in a revocable living trust, you can help your beneficiaries avoid the probate process altogether. Upon your death, the assets held in the trust can be distributed privately and efficiently, according to your instructions. This is not possible through a traditional will.

2. Flexibility and control:

Another advantage of a revocable living trust is the flexibility it offers. While you are alive and mentally competent, you have complete control over the trust and can make changes or revoke it entirely. You can add or remove assets, change beneficiaries, or modify distribution instructions as your circumstances and wishes evolve over time. This feature makes the revocable living trust a versatile estate planning tool that can adapt to your changing needs.

3. Incapacity planning:

One significant advantage of a revocable living trust is its ability to provide for the management of your assets in the event of your incapacity. If you become unable to manage your affairs due to illness, disability, or cognitive decline, the successor trustee you have designated can step in to handle the trust's assets on your behalf. This can help avoid the need for court-appointed guardianship or conservatorship, ensuring that your family and financial matters are taken care of according to your wishes.

4. Privacy:

Unlike a will, which becomes a matter of public record during probate, a revocable living trust allows for a more private transfer of assets. This means that the details of your estate plan, the assets held in the trust, and the beneficiaries' identities remain confidential.

5. Tax planning:

Depending on the size of your estate, a revocable living trust can also help with tax planning. While the trust itself does not offer direct tax advantages, it can be structured to incorporate tax-saving strategies, such as minimizing estate taxes or reducing income taxes for your beneficiaries. 

You can easily create your own revocable living trust by using the GoodTrust platform. GoodTrust provides an easy and fast way to create any estate plan in just a few minutes. However, it's important to note that a revocable living trust may not be necessary for everyone. If you have a small estate or have made alternative arrangements for the transfer of your assets, such as joint ownership or beneficiary designations on certain accounts, a revocable living trust may not be essential. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine if a revocable living trust aligns with your specific goals and circumstances.