How Does a Revocable Trust Work?

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POSTED ON: May 2, 2024

HOW DOES A REVOCABLE TRUST WORK? A revocable or living trust is a document created by you while you are living, creating a separate legal entity to hold title to property or receive property by being the designated beneficiary of financial assets. Real estate is moved into the trust by recording a deed for the real estate into your trust, according to the article “What are the pros and cons to putting my home in our trust” from Coastal Point.

There are many benefits to having property in a revocable trust, including probate avoidance, especially when you use one trust to hold property in more than one state, thereby avoiding having the estate go through probate in more than one state. Trusts are also used to make the administration of an estate easier and maintain property in further trust for beneficiaries within the initial trust. Trusts are also used to maintain privacy, since a revocable trust is never a public record in most states, unlike a last will and testament.

The revocable trust can be more expensive and time-consuming to set up initially. Nevertheless, they save the beneficiaries time and money after the death of the grantor (the person creating the trust). They can be a little more difficult for people to understand than the traditional last will and testament. However, the overall pros usually outweigh the negatives.

Probate is the process by which the court approves the validity of the will and the plan to distribute assets to beneficiaries. When someone dies, and their real estate and assets are not in a trust, the estate is probated, meaning an estate is opened at the Register of Wills in each state where the person owned real estate. The assets of the decedent are tied up for at least eight months, so any creditors of the decedent can submit claims against the estate. After the period of time required by each state, check with your estate planning attorney to find out about your state’s process. The estate can be closed, and assets can be distributed.

The main benefit of placing real estate in trust is to avoid probate. This not only saves time and expense but allows the property to pass immediately to the beneficiaries, be sold to a third party, or otherwise be disposed of following the instructions in the trust. Holding assets in trust also provides privacy and lets you be very specific about what you want to happen to those estates.

If the trust is revocable (as opposed to irrevocable), you also have a lot of flexibility. Changes can be made to the terms, contents and distributions as wished by the grantor. The trust can even be revoked entirely, if wished. A revocable trust remains private and is not part of the public record.

Be sure to fund the trust once it is created, either by retitling deeds or other asset ownerships. Knowing exactly how to title the property deed or make proper changes to account names is something your estate planning attorney can help with.

Schedule your phone meeting: THE LAW OFFICES OF CLAUDE S. SMITH, III


Reference: Coastal Point (Feb. 15, 2024) “What are the pros and cons to putting my home in our trust”

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