Living Trust

Last Updated: 11/10/2015

Document Description

What is a living trust? The short answer is a living trust (and combined pour-over will) is an alternative to using a traditional last will document, with a range of advantages. It sets some or all of your assets aside with legal protections, usually with yourself as the trustee to maintain full control. Upon your death, control passes to a person of your choosing: perhaps your spouse or a close friend, and they can then distribute your assets as you requested in the living trust document.

There are plenty of advantages to using a living trust and combined pour-over will document, instead of a traditional last will, but the biggest advantage is that living trusts can help your family avoid the expensive, fractious and tedious process of probate after you pass on.

Another reason to use a living trust over a last will document is the flexibility to structure your estate in a tax-friendly way for your family. Also known as death taxes, both federal and state governments will try to take as much of your money as possible, but a living trust can help some people structure their estate in a more tax-friendly way. Read more in our Beginner’s Guide to Estate Taxes .

Your living trust will detail exactly which asset or possession should go to whom, and the attached pour-over will includes important information on who should assume guardianship of any minor children, who will take care of your pets and how all of their care will be funded. It can help protect your spouse, by making sure that certain assets go directly to them after you die, without a lengthy legal process in probate court.

What makes our living trust better protection for you? It is state-specific, including required clauses for your state, but even better we will guide you through your state’s laws as you need them. Our State Assist tips will point out relevant state laws and restrictions at each step in the process (and good news: the process is pretty quick and easy).

What’s more, you can store your executed living trust in your secure digital Estate Vault, and share emergency access with anyone you want to have access once you pass on.

Read more about will/living trust pros and cons in our full explanation of the differences between a living trust document and a last will and testament.

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