If you have assets, estate planning is something you should carefully consider. Without a proper plan in place, you have no control over what happens to your property once you pass on.
Unfortunately, this also leaves your family with the often heavy burden of probate, the legal process that validates and administers your will.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is a plan for asset distribution created during your lifetime and controlled by you until your passing. In practice, you can name beneficiaries for all assets listed in the trust, including real estate, vehicles, jewelry and bank accounts, and even outline plans for your funeral and burial.
How can a living trust help you avoid probate?
During your lifetime, you remain the trustee of your living trust. After your death, the person you named as successor trustee will oversee the distribution of assets, allowing your family to bypass the probate process.
The most frustrating part of probate for beneficiaries is the ability to dispute. People can bring forth a claim after your death that you were not of sound mind when you established your will. An advantage of outlining asset distribution in a living trust is that challenging it is much more difficult, primarily because proving alleged mental incapacity is harder. Living trusts require a higher testamentary capacity than a will.
Creating a living trust and planning your estate is not about how much wealth you possess. It is about ensuring the carrying out of your wishes after you pass.