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Can a living trust help me avoid probate?

Wills are the commonest estate planning tool; many Polk County residents have valid wills in place for the distribution of assets. Wills are not the only estate planning document available, however. Other tools exist and may work well for folks, depending on their individual circumstances. This blog post will take a closer look another estate planning tool: the living trust.

The living trust is also known as the inter vivos trust. There are a number of similarities between wills and living trusts. Both allow a person to direct the distribution of assets after death. Both allow the maker to alter its terms or even revoke it altogether before death.

There are a number of important differences between the two, however. A living trust can be used to provide for the management of assets after death. This is because all trusts establish fiduciary duties for the individuals who manage them. A living trust can guide the conduct of trust managers by imposing trust administration duties on them.

Also, living trusts can help beneficiaries avoid probate for the contents of the trust. This is because the property is technically held in the name of the trust, not in the name of the individual whose death triggers the asset distribution.

Be aware that a living trusts do not completely eliminate the need for a will. Many living trust makers choose to use a will to place assets into a living trust after their death. This is only used for assets not in the trust at the time of death.

Living trusts may be a great idea for some people and unnecessary for others. A seasoned estate planning attorney can provide individual guidance to people seeking to put together an estate plan.

Source: FindLaw, "Living Trust as Alternative to a Will: What a Living Trust Is and Is Not," accessed on April 15, 2018

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