What is a living trust?

One of the great things about estate planning is that it is a customizable process. Depending on your needs and the way in which you want your assets distributed upon your death, you can tailor your estate plan accordingly. While this is a relief to many, it can also seem overwhelming to others as they may quickly become confused about the options available to them, or they may simply become too complacent to modify an estate plan to mirror their current situation. This can be problematic, which is why we strive to educate our readers about the many estate planning vehicles that they may utilize to further their and their estate’s best interests.

One estate planning tool that is utilized by many Arizonans is the living trust. Generally speaking, a grantor opens a trust and places assets into it. That trust is then administered by a trustee who manages the assets for the benefit of a named individual, the beneficiary. A living trust is a trust that is created during the lifetime of the grantor. One benefit to this type of trust is that it can be revocable, meaning that if at any time the grantor becomes unhappy with the trust or finds it unnecessary, then he or she can simply cancel the trust altogether.

One of the biggest benefits of a revocable living trust is that it allows an estate to avoid probate. Probate is the process through which property is transferred after a person passes away. The process can take months and be extremely costly. However, since a living trust names a beneficiary, there is no need for the assets in that trust to go through probate. Another benefit is that these trusts are relatively easy to create and manage.

With that being said, these legal documents need to be drafted with care and attention to detail. Failing to do so could result in serious legal headaches down the road. To learn more about living trusts, as well as other estate planning tools that may be useful to you as you navigate this process, please consider speaking to a legal professional who can help advise and guide you with competence.