When it comes to advance planning for your later years as well as planning for your loved ones after your death, it is important to have an effective and strategic estate plan in place. Unfortunately, many people do not think about comprehensive estate planning far enough in advance.
A living trust is an important part of a good estate plan. It is important to understand not only what a living trust is and how it works but also the benefits it could provide in your particular situation.
What is a living trust?
As the name states, a living trust places your assets in trust for your benefit during your lifetime. These assets can include things such as your bank accounts, property, investments and other valuable personal property. In creating this type of trust, not only can you administer the assets while you are alive, but if you should become incapacitated at any time, a "successor trustee" named as part of the living trust has the ability to make decisions regarding the trust in the event of your death or an illness or accident that renders you unable to make decisions on your behalf.
Can a living trust help me avoid probate?
The short answer to this question is that, generally speaking, a living trust can provide you a tool that allows you to transfer assets without probate and can allow your loved ones to avoid probate completely. Probate is the legal process whereby a will is "proved" in court. But a will does not take effect until after your death. The living trust protects your family from issues that can result in the event you become incapacitated before your death, such as guardianship procedures. In addition, when a trust is in place, there is the ability to bypass the probate court process, which can save your loved ones time, money and stress.
A qualified estate planning attorney can assist you in setting up a living trust. A living trust can give you and your family members valuable peace of mind, especially as you reach the later years of your life. The investment you make now can pay great dividends for many years to come.