A Living Trust is a legal arrangement established by an individual (the grantor) during their lifetime to protect their assets and direct distribution after their death. As an estate planning tool, it helps heirs and family members avoid a long public and sometimes contentious probate process.
What is Probate?
Probate is a legal process completed when a deceased person has left assets to distribute, such as bank accounts, real estate, and financial investments. If the decedent’s will does not automatically refer an estate to a spouse, probate may be necessary to determine heirs. If a person dies without a will (intestate), probate is mandatory to determine who is rightfully entitled to assets left by the deceased. We’ve seen it in movies and maybe in real life, too. When someone dies and there is no will listing beneficiaries, things can get nasty. Enter the Living Trust.
Living Trust vs. Will
The differences between a will and Living Trust are straightforward.
- A will comes into effect after the creator’s death.
- A Living Trust is effective immediately while the grantor is still alive.
- The grantor can change Living Trust stipulations, including its beneficiaries.
Additional Benefits of a Living Trust
The Living Trust can also stipulate certain legal and personal wishes concerning health care and end-of-life medical directives.
- Appoints a medical power of attorney to someone trusted to carry out your wishes.
- Prevents arguments among family members.
- Reduces the burden of decision-making for caretakers.
- Stipulates and limits certain extraordinary medical treatments.
- Provides peace of mind knowing you’ll receive the medical care you want.
The Importance of Trustees
Living trusts are significant because they allow a trustee (the grantor or someone appointed by the grantor) to manage the assets in the trust.
What’s Included in a Living Trust?
Anything you own is an asset, and as such, can be included in the Living Will. Financial assets can include:
- Stock and bond certificates and safe deposit boxes
- Mutual fund accounts, brokerage accounts
- Money market accounts, certificates of deposit
- Checking and saving accounts, and cash
- Money owed to you
- Life insurance policies
- Non-qualified annuities (those funded with pot-tax dollars)
Non-financial assets include:
- A Home
- Personal Belongs
People, more often than you might think, designate a guardian for pets should they pass away. Living Wills also allow the grantor an opportunity to earmark certain assets for non-profits or persons who support social, cultural, and religious groups personally important to them.
Let’s Talk about Living Trusts
The Voeller Law Firm specializes in all aspects of estate planning. If you have questions and need help with a living trust, contact us by calling (210) 651-3851 or using our online contact form to send a message and set up a consultation.
We serve San Antonio, Schertz, and the surrounding communities of Bexar County.
19311 FM 2252
San Antonio, Texas 78266