Can A Living Trust Keep My Family Out Of Probate?

You may have heard nightmares about probate holding a family’s assets hostage. Maybe you have no idea what that last sentence means and want to know more. Whatever the reason, you want to know that your family is well cared for if something happens to you.

Today, The Law Office Of Trent Linville, PLLC, offers insight on how a living trust can help you avoid the probate process. Also included is the difference between a living trust and a living will and why you might need both.

A Living Trust Lives On

One of the first questions that attorneys are often asked when creating a living trust is, “How does this avoid probate?” The answer is that it takes assets out of your name. When you die, you don’t own the property; the trust does. But fear not, this does not mean you do not have control over your assets. After placing assets into a living trust, the individual or couple setting up the trust typically retains the ability to manage those assets as they see fit. 

Your successor trustee can then take full control over all assets titled into the trust. They can also collect your life insurance and administer your retirement accounts and annuities. Your trustee also has the legal authority to settle your final debts and, importantly, distribute trust funds to your other named beneficiaries based on your wishes established in your trust document.

In addition to avoiding probate, one of the most appealing benefits of a living trust is that this legal agreement survives before and beyond your death. A will, by contrast, only takes effect when you die and is only put into effect by a court mandated processs called probate.

Some Assets May Enter Probate

One important thing to know about a living trust is that assets you’ve acquired after the trust is established may be conveyed via probate to your heirs-at-law. While your estate planning attorney can create a pour-over will to deed property to your trust after your death, this property still enters probate until it is acquired by the trust. This makes it important that you keep your trust updated and reviewed regularly with a trust estate planning attorney.

Do I Still Need A Living Will?

A living will is not the same thing as a will. Instead, a living will, which is also known as an advanced health care directive, is essentially a set of instructions that convey your wishes for medical treatment if you are incapacitated and cannot provide express informed consent. Your living will does not address assets, such as property or bank accounts.

The decision to choose a will over a living trust is deeply personal and should not be made without understanding the pros and cons of each. However, even if you choose a living trust, you may also wish to create a living will so that you have a say in major medical decisions, even if you are unable to express these wishes in the moment.

The law office of Trent Linville, PLLC, can help you establish a living trust or a living will. Make an appointment today, and enjoy the peace of mind that goes with knowing your family is taken care of.

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Linville Estate Law

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