We are Revocable Living Trusts Attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona
“Do I need a trust?” is the question I am asked all the time. The answer I always give is that you certainly want a trust unless you simply don’t care about what happens to your loved ones after you pass. For those people, no estate plan or a basic fill in the blank will will suffice. However, for those wishing to confer asset protection to their beneficiaries, avoid probate, provide for your own cognitive decline, or protect your privacy, a revocable living trust may be right for you.
A revocable living trust is a revocable trust created during the grantor’s lifetime which contains testamentary provisions. A trust is a fiduciary relationship whereby a grantor entrusts a trustee with assets for the benefit of a beneficiary. When people think of a revocable living trust, the same grantor fulfills all three roles. You will transfer your own property to yourself to be held in trust for yourself (and the remainder beneficiaries when you pass away). The revocable aspect of the trust means that you have retained the power to revoke or amend the trust at will at any time; meaning you maintain complete control so long as you remain mentally competent.
Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust
The main benefit many clients cite for a revocable living trust is probate avoidance. While most estates in Arizona can sail through the probate process, the ones that don’t face up to several years in delays, infighting, indecision, and tens of thousands in fees. In contrast, administering a trust does not require any court filings and is usually an exceptionally smooth and friction free process.
The other feature a revocable living trust has is the ability for a trusted person to step in and act on your behalf in case of mental disability or cognitive decline or if you just don’t feel like managing your finances anymore. Unlike a durable power of attorney, your trustee has greater control over the assets placed in trust and may face less pushback from financial institutions who routinely disregard financial powers of attorney.
Finally, if privacy is a concern, a revocable living trust does not go through probate and is not made a public document. A will, on the other hand, is entered into the public record for eternity. So, if you wish to keep the identity of your beneficiaries secret, you need to provide for them outside of probate.
Tax Implications of a Revocable Living Trust
The best part about a revocable trust is that there are no tax implications! Since you remain the trustee, beneficiary, and grantor the trust assets are treated in the same manner as if you owned them outright, which you technically do. However, as part of your comprehensive estate plan, we will discuss and plan for a myriad of tax implications for your estate and heirs. As part of such a plan we may also recommend irrevocable trusts to lock in a lower valuation for assets gifted during your life.
Is A Pour-Over Will Necessary?
I get this question often, and the answer is yes, a pour-over will is still a necessary part of an estate plan utilizing a revocable living trust. The fact is, you will never be able to transfer every single asset you own into the trust. There is always some small debt you’re owed (tax refund for example) or other