Having a last will and testament in place is a great start to a comprehensive estate plan. Those who want to gain several advantages, however, might want to talk to their estate lawyer about a trust. Trusts and the person who administers the trust, the trustee, allow the deceased to gain more power over their assets than a will might provide. Read on to find out more about one type of trust, the revocable trust.
Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts
Revocable trusts have an edge over irrevocable trusts for obvious reasons. With a revocable trust, the trust can be changed as many times you wish. For example, if your daughter has married since you created the trust and you now want to recognize your new son-in-law, a revocable trust allows you to add a beneficiary to the trust. If they divorce, you can remove that son-in-law. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed. If you want to make a change, you must do away with the trust and start again.
Before the Death
The owner of the trust, known as the grantor or trustor, has the power to completely control the trust. They can add property and beneficiaries and change any aspect of the trust at will. The ability to make changes in the trust is important because many people don't bother updating their plans when they need to. If you experience any life change, your estate plan should be brought up to date. That means that marriages, births, divorces, adoptions, deaths, business acquisitions, sales of real estate, and more should prompt a change to the trust.
After the Death
Once the trust grantor passes away, the power passes to the trustee. The power, however, is limited. Trustees are not free to make changes to the trust but they are in charge of seeing to it that the elements of the trust are honored according to the grantor's wishes. The role of the trustee somewhat mirrors that of the will's executor or personal representative. There may be more to the trustee's duties as compared to that of an executor, however, and that has to do with the ability of a trust to stay alive for years. Wills, in most cases, are probated and the property dispensed of in a matter of months. Trusts, though, have the power to continue providing beneficiaries with unique benefits. For example, a trust can be set up to provide money to a minor child until they reach adulthood. Another example is providing for the care and feeding of a beloved pet for the remainder of the pet's life. The trustee's job is to make sure that the assets are kept safe and available for their intended purposes.
To get more information about a trust, talk to a wills and trusts lawyer.