For residents living in Illinois, the primary advantage to creating a living trust, or inter vivos trust, is that you can likely avoid probate. This means you may save your loved ones the time and often costly legal fees that can be associated with the court process that a will would go through.
Once the trust document has been signed, notarized and has had the property transferred into it, you can name yourself the trustee and remain in that position for as long as you would like, giving yourself unrestricted access to your assets. You can name a co-trustee if you would like or retain the power as sole trustee. You can name a successor trustee to take your place when you pass.
According to the Illinois General Assembly, upon your death your successor will receive the transfer of power regarding your assets and property and can make any decisions outlined in the trust. This may include sales of the property, as well as rights, responsibilities and certain powers. You can also outline restrictions and limitations in the trust. You have a good amount of flexibility when creating the document to fit your preferences, allowing you to maintain more control over what happens to your assets posthumously. This can also include the dates when beneficiaries may receive inheritances as well as conditions you place upon them.
Privacy is another benefit of creating a living trust. Since it is treated as a private document and does not go through the court system in the same manner as a will, beneficiaries, co-trustees and successors do not become public knowledge and are made known only to those listed.
Finally, a trust can protect your property from creditors since the trust becomes irrevocable. Depending on the type of living trust you create, the estate tax can also be somewhat reduced.
A living trust can be an integral part of your estate planning but may not cover all your bases. Discuss all your property and health needs to ensure that your planning incudes all the necessary documents for full protection and peace of mind.
This post is to be used as an educational resource only and not in lieu of professional legal counsel.