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Do revocable living trusts help avoid probate?

Avoiding probate is not always simple or even possible, but it usually well worth the effort to do so. On of the most common tools used to circumvent the probate process is forming a revocable living trust to hold assets that would otherwise pass through probate and likely diminish greatly in the process.

Different trusts offer various advantages and may allow an estate to dodge probate when the owner of the estate passes away. Revocable living trusts work well for this purpose, when established and maintained properly. In broad strokes, the trust creator, or "grantor," establishes the living trust and transfers the property he or she wishes to keep within it to the trust. In most cases, the grantor establishes him or herself as the trustee of the trust, creating legal separation from the property but still enjoying the ability to manage the property as its trustee.

When the grantor passes away or is incapacitated, a successor trustee appointed by the grantor then assumes responsibility for the trust and the property and distributes the property within the trust to the grantor's named beneficiaries. In many cases, a proper execution of this process allows the grantor to avoid probate entirely, keeping the distribution efficient and maintaining greater value within the estate itself.

It is important to understand that this process does not allow much margin of error in the preparation of the documents or execution. If you believe that a revocable living trust fits your estate's needs, make sure to carefully scrutinize your trust documents and use the legal resources that you have available to keep your wishes and rights protected.

Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding Probate FAQs," accessed April 20, 2018

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