A will is a reliable tool one can use to pass assets to one's heirs after death, and one can accomplish a number of estate planning goals using a will. Estate planning solely through a will, though, means that nothing can occur until after death, and heirs must go through the probate process to carry out the will's formalities. Probate can be time-consuming, and stressful for some – adding to an already difficult situation for your family members.
One strategy to limit or avoid the need for probate is to establish a Revocable Living Trust and transfer assets to the trust. A Revocable Living Trust is an agreement allowing you to manage assets during your lifetime, and distribute assets to beneficiaries automatically upon death. The trustee – either yourself or another person – will manage, invest, or withdraw from the trust during your lifetime as appropriate. The trust will also designate a successor trustee (if needed) after the original trustee's death, and identify beneficiaries.
Benefits of Revocable Living Trusts include:
- Ability to revoke or modify the trust during your lifetime. This allows you to change or add beneficiaries, update investment strategies, or withdraw funds as needed. This allows a “best of both worlds” situation – you can still access and control the assets, but if you die, they pass on to beneficiaries exactly as you intended.
- Avoidance of probate. The trust's funds belong to the trust, and not the individual, so its assets can pass directly to beneficiaries without going through the probate process, even if a will is in place.
- Quick distribution to beneficiaries. The timeline between death and a final distribution of assets through probate court will be a minimum of six months and sometimes around a couple years. A trust operates much more efficiently, potentially allowing disbursement to beneficiaries within a matter of weeks. Kentucky statutes permit trustees to proceed with distribution of a revocable trust “upon the death of the settlor” of the trust.
- Avoidance of will contests. A properly funded and managed Revocable Living Trust is difficult if not impossible for a disappointed heir to contest. This helps ensure your goals are effectively carried out while minimizing stress for your beneficiaries.
Revocable trusts should be carefully considered along with other options (such as Irrevocable Trusts) and your best course of action will depend on your individual financial circumstances.
Discuss Revocable Living Trusts as an Estate Planning Option with Experienced Northern Kentucky Attorneys
Whether you have considered Revocable Living Trusts or the concept is new and unfamiliar, our Northern Kentucky estate planning attorneys are ready to help you. These issues can seem extremely complicated and frustrating, but the benefits of a well-planned trust are well worth it – for you and your family. Contact Darpel Elder Law today to schedule a comprehensive consultation and discuss these options--and whether a Revocable Living Trust is appropriate for you. Call our office at (859) 341-4100, or visit our website at www.darpelelderlaw.com.