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If used correctly, a revocable trust could help avoid probate

Choosing to utilize planning tools other than wills commonly occur during individuals' estate planning. For many Massachusetts residents, a revocable trust could come in handy if they hope to avoid probate or allow certain assets more protection. However, while this tool can prove beneficial in theory, parties may only be limiting themselves if they do not use their trusts to their full potential.

One way a trust could be misused is if the trustmaker fails to properly fund the trust. In order to carry out this needed action, the individual should re-title assets to the trust. This step passes the ownership of the property from the person to the trust and trustee, who then has control over the assets. In most cases, the trustmaker names him or herself as trustee with successor trustees named to take over after death.

If a person hopes to use a trust to avoid probate, he or she may wish to inventory his or her probate assets. By knowing which property would need to go through the probate process, the individual could better understand which assets to include in the trust. Placing the necessary property into the account could eliminate the need for probate proceedings.

In order to ensure that they use their trusts in the correct way, Massachusetts residents may wish to gain more information. Local, reliable resources are available to provide facts about revocable trust usage and transferring assets, and many parties may benefit from exploring these resources. Additionally, speaking with experienced attorneys could allow interested parties to obtain information specific to their needs and concerns.

Source: floridatoday.com, "Improperly funded trusts can be very costly", Stephen Lacey and Brooke M. Benzio, May 15, 2017

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