Continued from Part 1 The Benefits of Building a Living Trust Instead of Relying on a Will
3) It’s Harder to Contest a Living Trust
Wills are your final words and wishes. But they have also been forged or forced so often that contesting them is entirely commonplace. Wills can be argued to have been revised under duress, while the writer was not in their right mind, or forged by close relatives for more favorable terms. A living trust, on the other hand, would be difficult to set up properly if you were incompetent; they are less subject to the contesting process. A living trust is much more likely to hold up if disputed. Your wishes are much more likely to be respected if someone wants to argue about the results.
4) Easy Spouse Inheritance
If you have a spouse and intend to leave all or most of your estate to them, then a joint living trust is the ideal way to ensure that they have access to all property and accounts the moment you are no longer with them. This ensures that they continue to own all of the house you shared, have access to your bank accounts, and maintain control over the estate where it might be taken away from them temporarily during a will’s probate.
With a joint living trust, both you and your spouse are controlling trustees; when you pass on, they retain complete legal control of your shared assets without any rigamarole about inheritance process. Naturally, the same goes the other direction if they happen to predecease you instead.
5) Out of State Property
One of the biggest hassles of executing a will for someone with spread-out wealth is dealing with property out of state. With a will, this property would enter a separate probate in the state it is located. With a living trust, this property continues to belong to the trust rather than any person in particular; there is no probate and therefore no hassle about a second out of state probate. This ensures all the property you want to pass on enters the possession of your heirs without that unnecessary hurdle.
6) Estate Privacy
Most people don’t think about this when writing their wills. But every single will becomes a public record after your death. This means that your estate and all your final wishes are also public record. This is not an ideal situation for many families and it has a way of airing private matters that most would rather remain private. A living trust is not public and will never become public ‘automatically’ so by using it to dispense your final wishes, everything about your family, inheritance choices, and estate remain private.
7) Trustee Backup
One interesting aspect of a living trust is that it can help you even before your demise. Should illness or old age render you permanently or temporarily incapable, the living trust can take on power of attorney in making decisions for your living situation and medical care. Your inheritor trustee will step in as ‘you’ just as they would to enact your wishes after your death. This creates a very important backup for anyone who is nervous about who the court might appoint as a default power of attorney or who might be able to claim that right. Your living trust and the instructions left there can take care of you.
8) Revocable Trust
And the final benefit of a living trust is that it is also a revocable trust or “inter vivos”. This means that even if you return from a state of temporary incapacity to find your inheritor trustee drunk with power and making decisions for you, it is easy to regain control simply by dissolving the trust and returning the estate to your possession.
Building a living trust has been found to be the best option for most people with some amount of personal wealth to manage that might otherwise get locked up in probate. It is also a good idea to have a back-up will to handle all possessions not currently added to the trust and perhaps a few final wishes that you would like to become a matter of public record. For more information about building a living trust, contact us today.