A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is a legal arrangement that allows you to manage and distribute your assets during your lifetime and after your death. You can revoke or change the terms of the trust at any time.
A revocable trust lays out rules for how your assets will be handled after you die.
There are several benefits to creating a revocable trust, including saving your heirs the time and expense of probate. Trusts have the added benefit of protecting your family’s privacy, as your estate will be settled outside the public eye (versus probate proceedings which are public record).
Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your trust meets your specific needs and will be legally enforceable. There are many pitfalls that can arise if you try to create a revocable trust on your own.
Here are the basic steps for creating a revocable trust:
- Determine your objectives. Define your goals and intentions for the trust, including who the beneficiaries will be and how you want your assets managed. An attorney can help you compare a revocable trust vs. an irrevocable trust and other estate planning tools to ensure that a revocable trust will meet your needs.
- Choose a trustee. The trustee is the person(s) or institution who will manage and distribute your assets according to your instructions.
- Draft a trust agreement. This legal document outlines the terms of your trust, including the assets that will be placed in the trust, the trustee’s powers and duties, and how the assets will be distributed after your death.
- Sign the trust documents. Once the trust document is prepared, you, as the grantor or trust creator, will need to sign it in the presence of witnesses and a notary public to make it legally valid.
- Fund the trust. Once the trust is signed, you need to place any relevant assets —such as real estate, investments, and bank accounts — into the trust. That typically involves changing the titles and registrations of your assets to the name of the trust.
Remember, because this is a revocable trust, you retain control of the assets and can remove them from the trust at any time.
- Inform relevant parties. Let your beneficiaries and trustee(s) know about the existence of the trust and provide them with any necessary information, such as the location of your trust and/or contact information for your estate attorney.
- Review and update. Periodically review your revocable trust to ensure that it still aligns with your wishes, your family, and your financial situation. You can amend or revoke the trust at any time, with the assistance of your attorney, if necessary.
Creating a revocable trust can help you manage your assets during your lifetime and facilitate the smooth transfer of assets to your beneficiaries after your death.
It’s essential to consult with a qualified trust attorney to create a trust that meets your specific needs and complies with applicable laws.