When it comes to estate planning, it's recommended that you go beyond a last will and testament. Wills are important and serve a purpose, but estate planning experts recommend that you add several other components to make your estate plan complete. A revocable trust is a must-have estate instrument. Read on to learn more about this flexible and complete, yet simple estate planning tool.
What Revocable Trust Is
The word trust can be both confusing and bit intimidating to some. To help you understand what a trust is, you might want to consider it a bucket with all of your assets inside. The bucket contains things like your home, cars, bank accounts, and more. In fact, any item that can be listed in a will should instead be placed in the bucket. This bucket can be emptied and refilled at any time by the bucket's owner. That is what makes the trust revocable. It has the flexibility to be updated and changed as often as deemed necessary by the owner of the trust. Once the owner passes away, the trust becomes the responsibility of the trustee.
How a Trustee Is Like a Personal Representative
Just as you would appoint a personal representative to oversee your will, you should appoint a personal representative (or executor) to oversee the trust. The job of a personal representative is to file the will and send it through probate court. The job of the trustee, however, is vastly different in one way, because trusts do not have to pass through the probate or any other court. The trustee of a trust is able to skip the months of waiting for the probate court to probate the will and go straight to providing the beneficiaries with their inherited property. This means not only a quicker process but a more private process, since trusts are not public documents like wills are. After the death of the trust's owner, the trustee is empowered to immediately administer the trust.
The Duties of the Trustee
Trusts tend to have more flexibility when it comes to provisions and conditions. Where a will could face legal challenges if the deceased used certain conditions in a will, a trust allows the owner to set up financial arrangements that are more customized. For example, the trust can provide a given person with a sum money of money two times a year for four years so that they can attend college. That means that the job of the trustee is not over until all of its contents are distributed.
To learn more about revocable trusts, speak to an estate planning attorney.