One of the considerations for estate planning is whether your plan should include a living trust to avoid probate and to make administration easier and more confidential.
In North Carolina, not everyone needs to have a living trust. At The Elderlaw Firm, our experienced living trust lawyers specialize in initiating and advising on living trusts-- which makes us well equipped to help you and your family decide if a living trust is right for your particular situation.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is a written legal document in which your assets are placed in a secure trust designed to benefit you during your lifetime, and transferred to your designated beneficiaries at the time of your death. Somewhat contrary to a traditional will, a living trust allows you much more control of what happens to your assets both while living and after your death, and expedites the process by which your designated trust beneficiaries can receive the assets you’ve granted to them.
In determining whether a living trust is right for our clients, our estate and trust lawyers here at The Elderlaw Firm assess each unique client situation and consider a number of factors. When it comes to a living trusts and estate administration, there’s no one-size fits all solution.
What are the types of living trusts?
Like most legal undertakings, figuring out the right type of living trust for your situation can be perplexing without the help of an experienced elder law attorney. Luckily, here at The Elderlaw Firm, we’ve got more than a few.
As lawyers, we categorize living trusts a few different ways-- but the terms our clients are typically most familiar with include “revocable living trust” and “family living trust.”
A revocable living trust, as the name suggests, is a living trust that allows the individual initiating the trust to augment (or revoke) the terms of the trust at any time during their lifetime. The revocable living trust is typically a common option for clients looking to setup a basic trust but still maintain some leverage over their assets. Many clients request revocable living trusts as a standard-- and a revocable living trust is one of the most popular forms of living trusts we deal with here at The Elderlaw Firm.
On that note, there are also situations in which an irrevocable trust is created. These sorts of living trusts protect assets from things like lawsuits, and, as they can’t be changed, there’s very little that can augment any of the details of these living trusts.
As for a family living trust, most (if not all) of the same rules that apply to the revocable living trust duly apply. In fact many estate planning lawyers only differentiate a living trust from a family living trust when it comes to the number of people initiating the living trust. (For example, a husband and wife pair’s living, revocable trust may be considered a family living trust, while an individual’s living trust may be termed as just a living trust.) The rhetoric may be different, but the meaning is the same.
Is a living trust right for you?
If you’re married, both you and your partner are both in good health, and your assets (excluding your home, IRAs and life insurance) are less than $150,000, then the advantages of a living trust may not necessarily justify the expense-- though that doesn’t mean a living trust is entirely out of the question. For many without incredibly sizeable assets, setting up a living trust can still be a beneficial way to arrange assets and determine who should receive them while avoiding probate court and the court costs associated with the probate process.
If your assets exceed the $150K mark, if you’re single with a significant amount of assets, or if your spouse or beneficiaries have health concerns, setting up a living trust with the help of an estate planning attorney can definitely be worth the peace of mind. With a living trust in place, you can be confident that your assets will be distributed to the right people at the right time, and only under the terms that you designate. Additionally, a living trust can, again, help you avoid the probate process, and even shield the allocation of your assets from the public eye.
Living trusts can be confusing, which is why our living trust lawyers are here to help. With years of experience in building living trusts and assisting with legal services for North Carolina families and residents, The Elderlaw Firm can provide you with the tools and resources you need to make the right decisions on the living trust and estate planning that’s right for your family. Check out our living trust resources below!