Many benefits exist to having a trust as your estate plan over a will, and while misconceptions can exist as to what these benefits are, here are a few pros to establishing your estate plan via a revocable trust.
1. Trusts Avoid Probate
One of the biggest reasons anyone seeks a revocable trust is for the purpose of avoiding probate. The probate process is a legal procedure that is required through the court system to determine the validity of a will and administer an estate.
Probate takes place through the local probate court in the county where the deceased lived up until death. Probate proceedings are normally public record, as well, which, for people who wish for their estates to be private, is a huge negative.
Avoiding the probate system is helpful, as well, if the settlor owns property in more than one state. Without a trust, the settlor’s loved ones would technically need to be involved in probate proceedings in more than one jurisdiction.
With a trust, the trustee can handle these matters independent of a court proceeding in each state.
2. Planning for Disability
One benefit of a revocable trust is that it protects the property of the settlor and allows it to be used for his or her benefit when the settlor becomes physically or mentally unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf.
While a power of attorney can allow for another individual to act on behalf of the disabled person, it can be easier for a trustee to get things done through third parties, such as banks, brokers, or other financial agents.
A will is only usable technically once the person passes away, but a trust can be utilized before death upon mental incapacity or illness. If the settlor becomes incapacitated, the trustee then steps in to make decisions on the settlor’s behalf.
The trustee is charged with the job of acting in the best interests of the settlor and the trust, so all decisions must be made with this in mind.
Having this trust document and trustee appointment in place saves loved ones from the money and stress of having to seek a guardianship or conservatorship in the event that the incapacitated person suddenly is no longer to handle his or her affairs.
Not only can court proceedings be expensive, they can be lengthy and are public record, as well. Further, an appointed guardian must follow detailed requirements, including submitting annual accountings, payment of bonds and other requirements.
When it comes to a trust, no court action is needed. The trust document simply kicks in, and the trustee handles everything per the settlor’s initial wishes.
3. Flexibility Of Revocable Trusts
A revocable trust is much more flexible than a last will and testament. The term revocable means that the settlor has the power to make changes to the document as much as he or she needs to during his or her lifetime.
Only once the settlor dies is the trust then termed to be “irrevocable.” Amendments can be made much more easily through a trust than a will.
4. The Need For Original Copies
If the deceased has a will, courts require that an original will must be submitted to probate the estate. If an original will is not available, a whole process exists to show that the will was not revoked and no other wills exist.
It is not an easy process, and even though it can be overcome, it is still a difficult and time consuming process. However, revocable trusts are not probated with a court.
Therefore, the original document is not necessarily needed. A trust can simplify the process of transferring property to the beneficiaries if the original cannot be found or has been destroyed.
5. Asset Availability
Unlike a will, assets in a trust are available quickly following the death of the settlor. If the deceased has a will, his or her estate must be probated through the legal system.
Each state has its own set of laws, but all states are pretty consistent in that a waiting period exists to allow for creditors to make claims before everything can be settled and closed.
On the other hand, if the trust was funded before the death of the settlor, those assets are available for immediate access, if needed.
Contact Brian M. Douglas Today
If you are not sure you need an attorney, you can always come in for a consultation to discuss your situation. Please contact our office if you or someone you know has recently been appointed personal representative of a loved one’s estate and has questions about what to do next.
Call us at (770) 933-9009 to schedule your consultation with a Greater Atlanta area probate lawyer today.