The Benefits of Creating a Living Trust for Your Family’s Asset Protection

Hey Fab Moms, think of your family’s assets like a yummy cake – your home, savings, and all that jazz. Now, meet the living trust, your cake’s superhero! It’s a special box that keeps your cake safe.

If something happens to you, the trust ensures your cake goes straight to your loved ones without hassle. It’s like a shield from taxes and grabby hands, keeping your cake safe and sound.

So, let’s bake that cake, pop it in the trust box, and keep it safe for our sweet family’s future! 🍰✨

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Understanding Living Trusts

Alright, so imagine you have this special box called a living trust. It’s like a magical container where you put all your important stuff, like your house, money, and other valuable things. Now, here’s the cool part: this trust box is super smart! It knows exactly what to do with your stuff, especially if something happens to you. It’s like having a trustworthy friend who takes care of everything for you when you’re not around. So, a living trust is your secret helper, making sure your things go to the right people, like your family members, without any fuss or worry. It’s like having your guardian for your stuff where you maintain control.

What Do Living Trusts Do?

Living trusts are legal documents that let you, the super-mom, decide who gets your stuff (assets like your house, bank accounts, and investments) after you’re gone. It’s like a super-powered to-do list that ensures your wishes are followed. Here’s the best part: it can even help out if you get sick and can’t manage things yourself.

Here’s how a living trust protects your family:

  • Avoids Probate: This can be a lengthy court process (think months or even years!) A living trust helps your loved ones avoid this time-consuming hassle (and the associated filing fees!), making them access to your trust assets much quicker and easier.
  • Privacy Matters: Unlike wills, which become public records, living trusts are private. No need to air your family business in the public probate process!
  • Successor Trustee: Life throws curveballs, but with a living trust, you can pick a superhero in shining armor (a trusted friend or family member) to manage your trust assets if you can’t. This successor trustee steps in and keeps things running smoothly.
  • Minor Marvels: Got little ones? A living trust can be especially helpful if you have minor children. You can set up specific guidelines on how and when they inherit, ensuring they’re taken care of properly.

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But wait, there’s more! Living trusts can even offer some tax benefits depending on your situation. An estate planning lawyer can help you explore the nitty-gritty of estate taxes and how a living trust might help you avoid estate tax on certain assets.

However, setting up a living trust does cost some money upfront, but think of it as an investment in your family’s future. It’s much less than the stress and potential legal fees of going through probate court.

The Bottom Line: A living trust is a powerful estate planning tool that gives you peace of mind. Your family gets your stuff faster and more privately, you call the shots (maintain control) while you’re alive, and you have a superhero successor trustee ready to step in if needed. It’s a win-win for everyone!

This is echoed by the Wyoming Attorney: “With a family trust, the grantor no longer owns the assets placed in the trust. However, the grantor can access the assets according to the terms written into the formal trust agreement.”

Types of Living Trusts

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the legal jargon around living trusts, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Think of different living trust types like flavors of ice cream – they all help protect your family’s future, but each has its special twist.

Revocable Living Trust

This is the most common type of living trust, and it’s like a customizable treasure chest. You can add or remove things (assets) throughout your life, and you stay in charge (maintain control) of everything. It’s perfect for peace of mind knowing your wishes are followed, and it avoids that lengthy probate process. It’s like leaving clear instructions for your loved ones to inherit your stuff (property, bank accounts, investments) smoothly.

Here’s the scoop on revocable living trusts:

  • Benefits: Avoids probate, keeps things private, and you stay in control.
  • Think of it as: A flexible treasure chest for your family’s future.
  • Example: You can put your house, bank accounts, and investments in a revocable trust to ensure they go to your kids without probate hassle.

Irrevocable Living Trust

An irrevocable living trust is more like a high-security vault. Once you put your stuff in, it’s there for good (with some exceptions). This might sound scary, but it can offer some cool benefits like reducing estate taxes. Think of it as a super-protected plan for specific goals, like sheltering assets from nursing home costs.

Here’s the deal with irrevocable living trusts:

  • Benefits: May reduce estate taxes, and protect assets.
  • Think of it as: A high-security vault for specific goals.
  • Example: You can put assets in an irrevocable trust to potentially qualify for Medicaid nursing home care without spending down all your savings.

The Durable Power of Attorney and Living Trusts

Now, living trusts work hand-in-hand with another superhero – your durable power of attorney. Imagine your trust as the captain of your ship, steering your trust assets in the right direction. Your durable power of attorney is like your trusted first mate, ready to take the wheel if you’re ever unable to manage things yourself (incapacity). Together, they’re a dream team that keeps your affairs shipshape!

Finally, your living trust can be your family’s personal treasure chest. Anything you want your loved ones to inherit can go inside, from your house and bank accounts to your investments and even precious keepsakes.

As James Chen from Investopedia says, “The types of assets that can be assigned to (or fund) a trust include real estate (land, commercial property, homes), financial accounts, personal property (such as jewelry, artwork, antiques), and business interests.”

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Advantages of Living Trust

  1. Probate Avoidance: One of the primary benefits of a living trust is that it allows assets to bypass the probate process, saving time and money for your beneficiaries.
  2. Privacy: Unlike wills, which become public records upon probate, living trusts provide privacy since they don’t go through the court system.
  3. Asset Management: A living trust enables you to manage your assets during your lifetime and designate a successor trustee to manage them if you become incapacitated.
  4. Flexibility: Living trusts offer flexibility in asset distribution, allowing you to specify how and when your assets should be distributed to your beneficiaries.
  5. Estate Tax Planning: For larger estates, living trusts can be part of an effective estate tax planning strategy to minimize tax liabilities.

Disadvantages of Living Trust

  1. Cost: Establishing a living trust can be more expensive than drafting a will due to legal fees and associated costs.
  2. Complexity: Living trusts require careful planning and ongoing maintenance, which can be complex and time-consuming.
  3. Loss of Control: While you retain control over your assets initially, transferring them to a trust means relinquishing some direct control, which may be a disadvantage for some individuals.
  4. Potential Funding Issues: For a living trust to be effective, assets must be properly transferred (or “funded”) into the trust, which can be overlooked or neglected, leading to incomplete estate planning.
  5. Limited Creditor Protection: While irrevocable living trusts may offer some creditor protection, revocable living trusts generally do not provide the same level of protection against creditors.

How Living Trusts Avoid Probate and Prevent Court Control

Alright moms, let’s talk about how living trusts are like skipping a long line at the store. You see, with a living trust, you transfer your stuff to this trust while you’re still here. Since technically, the trust owns everything, there’s no need for your treasures to wait in the long probate line after you’re gone. There are legal documents that need to be signed and taken care of.

Kimura London & White LLP adds “Estate lawyers practice trust and estate law. It might sound like estate lawyers spend their days writing wills and trust documents, but estate lawyers handle all aspects of the processes that are used to protect and pass along assets upon a client’s death.”

And here’s the kicker: because the trust already lays out exactly what to do with your stuff, there’s no need for the court to step in and mess things up. It’s like having a clear plan that everyone follows, without any outside interference.

So, it saves you time and money and ensures your wishes are carried out smoothly. Easy peasy, right?

Analysis of Pros and Cons


  • Probate Avoidance: Living trusts streamline the distribution of assets, bypassing the often lengthy and costly probate process.
  • Privacy: Unlike probated wills, living trusts keep your affairs private since they’re not subject to court oversight and become part of the public record.
  • Control: Living trusts allow for greater control over asset distribution during your lifetime and beyond, providing flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.


  • Cost: Establishing and maintaining a living trust can be more expensive than drafting a will, involving legal fees and administrative expenses.
  • Complexity: Living trusts require careful planning and ongoing management, which can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Funding Challenges: Properly funding the trust by transferring assets into it is essential for it to be effective, and failure to do so may result in incomplete estate planning.

Property Subject to Probate Within a Living Trust

Let’s chat about a little snag with living trusts. If you forget to put all your stuff in the trust or leave something out entirely, it might still end up in that long probate line. This includes things like assets you didn’t transfer into the trust before you passed away or stuff you owned all by yourself without naming a beneficiary or joint owner.

So, here’s the deal: to make sure your plan works smoothly, it’s super important to put everything you want in the trust. That way, you can avoid that pesky probate process altogether. Think of it like making sure all your ducks are in a row to keep things running smoothly!

Creation and Execution

  1. Consultation: Seek legal advice to understand your options and determine if a living trust aligns with your estate planning goals.
  2. Drafting: Work with an attorney to draft the trust document, specifying your wishes regarding asset management and distribution.
  3. Funding: Transfer ownership of your assets to the trust by re-titling them in the name of the trust.
  4. Appointment: Designate a trustee to manage the trust assets during your lifetime and a successor trustee to take over upon your incapacity or death.
  5. Signing: Execute the trust document following state laws, typically requiring notarization and witnesses.

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Living Wills vs. Living Trusts: What’s the Difference?

While both living wills and living trusts are important estate planning tools, they serve different purposes:

  • Living Will: A living will, also known as an advance directive, outlines your healthcare preferences in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate your wishes.
  • Living Trust: In contrast, a living trust primarily deals with the management and distribution of assets during your lifetime and upon your death, bypassing probate and allowing for greater control and flexibility in estate planning.

    In a living trust, you control assets as the trustee, managing them as you wish. You can change or cancel the trust if needed. If you become unable to manage it or pass away, a successor trustee takes over, ensuring your wishes are followed smoothly. This trust structure brings peace of mind and clarity to both you and your beneficiaries.

Practical Considerations

Alright, ladies, let’s talk about setting up a living trust the simple way:

  1. Costs: So, making a living trust can cost a bit upfront. It all depends on how complicated your stuff is and what the lawyer charges. You might pay for things like getting documents ready and shifting stuff around. Yeah, it might seem like more cash than making a will, but in the long run, it can save money by avoiding some legal hassles.
  2. Time: Creating a living trust takes some time and planning. You’ll have to chat with a lawyer a few times, gather info about what you own, and sign some papers. Sure, it might take longer than making a will, but once it’s set up, it’s pretty chill to keep it going.
  3. Corporate Trustees: Now, you can pick a bank or a trust company to handle your trust instead of a person. They know their stuff, and it can help keep things running smoothly. Plus, they won’t bail on you like a person might if things change.

So, there you have it, mom-to-mom, setting up a living trust isn’t too hard once you break it down!

Role and Responsibilities of Successor Trustees

Now, let’s talk about the successor trustee – they’re a big deal in managing your trust if something happens to you. Here’s what they do:

  1. Follow the Rules: They make sure your trust is handled how you want and follow the law.
  2. Money Matters: They take care of investing and managing your trust cash wisely.
  3. Giving Out Money: They hand out money to the right people, just like you said in your trust.
  4. Keeping Track: They keep good records of everything that happens with your trust money.
  5. Keeping Everyone Updated: They talk to the people who get money from your trust and keep them in the loop.

Picking a good successor trustee is super important – someone you trust and who can handle all this stuff like a pro. So, when you’re setting up your living trust, make sure you’ve got the right person in mind!

Products to help Create a Living Trust in Family Asset Protection

  1. LegalZoom Living Trust Package: LegalZoom offers a Living Trust Package that provides access to legal professionals who can assist you in creating a customized living trust tailored to your needs. The package includes personalized legal documents, attorney consultation, and instructions for funding your trust. With LegalZoom’s online platform, you can easily complete the process from the comfort of your own home.
  2. Trustee’s Power of Sale Stamp: A Trustee’s Power of Sale Stamp is a specialized stamp used by trustees to authorize the sale of trust property. This stamp is often required by banks and other financial institutions when the trustee needs to sell real estate held in the trust. By obtaining a Trustee’s Power of Sale Stamp, you can facilitate the sale of trust assets under the terms of the trust document.
  3. Estate Planning Organizer Binder: An Estate Planning Organizer Binder is a practical tool for keeping all your important estate planning documents and information organized in one place. These binders typically include sections for wills, trusts, powers of attorney, insurance policies, financial accounts, and other relevant documents. With an Estate Planning Organizer Binder, you can easily access and update your estate planning information as needed, ensuring that your affairs are well-managed and your wishes are carried out effectively.


Living trusts offer significant benefits, including probate avoidance, asset control, flexibility, and privacy maintenance. They can be established within several weeks to months, depending on individual circumstances. Living trusts also provide potential estate tax planning benefits for larger estates, while maintaining confidentiality and privacy as they are not part of the public record. Compared to trusts within a will, living trusts offer more comprehensive probate avoidance and incapacity planning. While it’s possible to create a living trust without legal assistance, consulting with an estate planning attorney ensures proper drafting and execution, maximizing the benefits of the trust.

Kathy Urbanski

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