If You Have Estate Planning Documentation, Do You Still Need a Living Trust?

One question that comes up frequently is whether you need a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) – or Living Trust – if you already have a will or estate planning documentation in place.

Unlike a will that only takes effect when you die, an RLT takes effect as soon as it’s signed and while you’re still living. An RLT does not have to be probated (recognized by an appropriate court) or administered like a will.

The following are just a few situations in which you might need an RLT even if you already have estate planning documentation. You may consider an RLT if you:

  • Need a vehicle for long term asset management. As the creator of the RLT, you maintain control of the assets placed in the trust. If you are concerned that you may become incapacitated or need assistance in the future, an RLT names a trustee to manage the assets on your behalf. This arrangement often proves superior to giving someone a mere Power of Attorney.
  • Own real estate outside of your primary state of residence. In general, a will must be probated in each state where you own real estate at your death, in addition to the state where you maintain your primary residence. If the out-of-state real estate is owned by an RLT, there is generally no need to probate your will in the other state(s).
  • Have any reason to think there may be disputes following your death. Since assets owned by an RLT at your death do not have to be dealt with through a formal probate process, there are far fewer opportunities available for disgruntled family members to cause trouble. It’s more difficult to successfully challenge a trust than to challenge a will.
  • Wish to provide for specific bequests. If you decide to add bequests of money or other property to specific beneficiaries, an RLT is more flexible than a will that has to be formally amended for every change.

It’s important to note that RLTs do not replace a will as part of an estate plan. You will need a “pour-over will” to ensure any assets not caught by the RLT will be appropriately distributed upon your death.

1 (Should I Use a Will or an RLT as My Primary Estate Planning Document? Separating Facts From Fiction, 2021).

If you are interested in learning more about RLTs, our experienced attorneys would be happy to discuss them with you as a part of your estate planning process. Please call us at 678-720-0750 or email us at info@MorganDiSalvo.com.

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