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What Is a Living Trust?

A revocable living trust, established by a trust agreement, functions as a holding place for your real and/or personal property while you are still living, so that after you die, those assets can be distributed to your beneficiaries through the trust. Trust assets might include your home or other real property, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and other personal property. An experienced Des Plaines estate planning attorney can help you determine if a living trust is the best estate planning option for you.

Benefits of a Living Trust”

A living trust has several potential benefits, including:

  • Helping your heirs to avoid probate by enabling a trustee to distribute your assets without court supervision, which may be especially beneficial if you have property in more than one state
  • Making it unnecessary to name a conservator or guardian of your assets, because whomever you name as successor trustee will take over managing your trust assets if you become unable to do so due to physical or mental illness
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of your estate — a living trust is a private document that is not filed with the court, whereas a probated will becomes a matter of public record
  • Allowing you to choose whomever you want to manage your affairs after you are gone — some states place limitations on who can serve as executor when a will is probated, so a living trust may offer you more flexibility
  • Making it easier to distribute your assets in states with complicated probate laws

Most people appoint themselves as trustee of their living trust, so they can continue to manage their assets until they become incapacitated or pass away. As trustee, you can:

  • Sell, refinance or give away property in your trust
  • Transfer trust property back into your own name
  • Transfer additional property into the trust
  • Change the trust beneficiaries
  • Change the successor trustee
  • Revoke the trust

A qualified Des Plaines estate planning lawyer can help you set up, revise or revoke a living trust and assist you in transferring your current and future assets into the trust. An attorney can also help you prepare a will to dispose of any assets still in your name.

Is a Living Trust Always the Best Option?

A living trust is not the best choice for everybody. Three factors people typically consider when deciding whether to create a living trust include:

  • Age
  • Wealth
  • Marital status

For example, young married couples with limited assets may not need a living trust, because the time and money involved in creating one would probably not be worth it. This is especially true if they plan to leave their limited assets to each other and are both in good health and will likely live for some time to come.

If you need to make important end-of-life decisions, contact a knowledgeable Des Plaines estate planning attorney today to create an estate plan that will accomplish your goals.

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