Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 13, 2019

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A revocable living trust is created for the purpose of avoiding probate proceedings. Revocable living trusts remain in the control of the trustor during their entire life and can be canceled (revoked) at any time. There are many advantages to establishing a revocable living trust for your estate planning.

Revocable Living Trusts and Avoiding Probate Court

The primary advantage of a living revocable trust is that you have the potential of avoiding probate. The average time a will remains in probate after your death is between one and two years. During that time, your family members are paying an estate planning attorney to handle your will and ensure that the will’s intent remains intact through the proceedings.

During the probate process, a judge can decide to either uphold the intent of the will or can strike unclear provisions entirely. What’s worse, all of your assets are frozen at the time of probate. This means that if you left behind a widow or children, they will be placed on a court approved “allowance” during the entire proceeding and only have access to funds that the court deems permissible.

Keeping all of this in mind, a living revocable trust can ensure probate court is avoided altogether. The key issue, and your responsibility, is to ensure that the majority of your assets are placed into the trust before your death. Once the assets are transferred into the trust, they will no longer be considered part of your estate and will not be subject to probate court.

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Revocable Living Trusts if You’re Incapacitated

With people living longer than ever and with a higher frequency of incapacity through mental deterioration later in life, it’s becoming more important for couples to protect their assets should they become disabled. A revocable living trust can be drafted to protect your assets should you ever become incapacitated. The living trust would then be transferred to your designated trustee who would provide for your care using the funds in the trust.

Revocable Living Trusts Remain Private at Your Death

It’s certainly a terrifying thought to have your entire estate become public record, with any creditor, thief, and tax collector having full access to the information. Because a revocable living trust avoids probate, it also avoids becoming public record. In fact, because the trust lives on past your death, the only people who will be aware of the living trust at your death are the beneficiaries and the trustee.

Revocable Living Trusts Ensure Your Wishes Are Honored

As controversial as it may be, occasionally you might have a reason to disinherit certain family members from your estate. While disinheritance clauses can be placed into wills, offended family members may sue and challenge the will’s authenticity. If they prevail, then even the disinherited family members will receive a share of your estate. A trust, however, has named beneficiaries. If someone is not named, then they are not part of the living trust and will not receive any of your estate. In this way, you can protect your will from being infiltrated by those you deem unworthy of receiving any of your estate.

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Getting Legal Help

If a revocable living trust sounds like a beneficial form of estate planning for you, contact an estate planning attorney for a consultation.