A Living Trust is an estate planning devise that can provide substantial tax savings to those whose estates exceed $675,000, excluding life insurance proceeds. Here are some of the many advantages:
I. A Revocable Living Trust (hereinafter referred to as "Living Trust") is a written document that can be a substitute for a will with very distinct advantages. A "Living Trust" is considered to be a legal person, in the eyes of the law, with the power to buy and sell its assets. This Living Trust" has three (3) positions that you nominate a person or persons to hold.
(a) The Trustor, which would be you or you and your spouse, the one(s) creating the "Living Trust",
(b) A Trustee, or one who will manage the "Living Trust", which may be you while you are alive with a successor (usually your spouse, a trustworthy family member, attorney or a "Trust Administration Company") named by you to take over at the time of your disability or death in accordance with your instructions; and
(c) One or more Beneficiaries, or those who will receive the benefits of the assets that you have placed in the "Living Trust" You may hold all three (3) positions, providing a successor Trustee is named. This "Living Trust" may be revoked by you at anytime during your lifetime. The Trustor, again, the one(s) who is creating the "Living Trust", has complete control over the investment of the "Living Trust's" assets.
2. A Pour Over Will is an integral part of the "Living Trust" and supercedes all previous wills. The purpose of this Pour Over Will is to transfer to your "Living Trust" any assets left out of the "Living Trust" during your lifetime, either due to an inadvertence (forgetfulness) or neglect.
3. The "Living Trust" gives you complete control over your assets, allowing you to give whatever you wish to whomever you desire, in whatever proportion you desire, and at exactly the time designated by you - not the Court.
4. Attorney's statutory fees, necessary with a will, are eliminated.
5. Court costs of going through probate are eliminated.
6. If you become mentally or physically unable to act for yourself, conservatorship proceedings are eliminated as your pre-nominated "Trustee" will act on your behalf.
7. The "Living Trust's" assets (which are normally all that you own) may be distributed immediately to your heirs for their immediate benefit and welfare. However, if you have minor children (under the age of 18), you may choose to delay the distribution of the bulk of the "Living Trust's" assets until they are older. Such assets will be invested with the income produced being spent on your children's educational general welfare until such time as you have provided that they inherit the principal (balance of the estate.)
8. If you die leaving minor children, a "Living Trust" eliminates the need for a Court-appointed guardian to care for your children's inherited property. Again, your pre-nominated successor Trustee, usually a trusted family member, will act on your behalf.
9. A "Living Trust" absolutely prevents any information about your assets, liabilities and beneficiaries from becoming public information.
10. Additional probate in other states, where you may own property, is eliminated. A simple Will would require that all such out-of-state property go through other state's probate proceedings. (reference omitted) "Living Trust" practically eliminated vulnerability to successful contest by disgruntled heirs, which frequently occurs with a Will, commonly known as "contesting the Will."
12 A "Living Trust" assists in creating a new cost basis for all of your property at the time of your death, thus lowering taxes. Should a simple will be left, the property would receive a higher cost basis upon the death of the first spouse.
13. If you won a family-run business, the income from your business will continue without interruptions to your family. Under a simple Will, the income could be restricted or stopped until probate proceedings are completed.
14. As previously mentioned, the successor Trustee of your estate may buy and sell assets or securities at any time, taking advantage of the current market or money exchange, thus, being able to operate in the "best interest" of your estate and heirs. Under a Will, new investments are strictly prohibited during the probate process with the exception of government bonds.
15. A "Living Trust" gives the Trustor the satisfaction of knowing that he or she has set their financial condition in order for his or her spouse, children, or heirs. Additionally, real savings have been created by dramatically lowering expenses; funds that would not have been available to your family under a will.
16. A "Living Trust" requires no periodic trust reports or accounting to the Court, thus, eliminating the accompanying public record and legal expense.
17. A "Living Trust" may either reduce or eliminate Federal Estate Taxes that are imposed upon an estate in excess of the state tax exclusion, which is currently $600,000 per single person (with or without a "Living Trust"). However, a couple with a "Living Trust" has a $1.2 million dollars exemption. Remember, estates must also have planning to compensate for future increases from inflation and market value growth.
18. Revocable Living Trusts are both easy and inexpensive to establish and you can maintain them yourselves without the necessity of an attorney ever again. In addition, they involve minimal paperwork, even though their initial size may be up to 100 to 200 pages depending on the complexity of the estate.
19. A Revocable Living Trust may be amended, revoked or changed at any time. It is a simple procedure that you can perform yourself, thereby eliminating the need for future legal services unless you desire legal counsel.
20. There are no adverse income tax consequences during your lifetime involved in creating a Revocable Living Trust. In fact, the "Living Trust" may move from state to state easily as you do and need not be modified because you move to another state.
21. Revocable Living Trusts are legal in every state. Your "Living Trust" may move from state to state as easily as you do and need not be modified because you move to another state.
22. Assets can be easily placed in your "Living Trust" by changing the title on your stocks, real estate, bank accounts, etc. from "JOHN and MARY DOE" to JOHN and MARY DOE, FAMILY TRUST, JOHN and MARY DOE TRUSTEES, dated (the date that your "Living Trust" is notarized). Although the property is placed in the name of the "Living Trust", you retain the right of possession, use, and employment of the property during your lifetime.
23. Assets are removed from your "Living Trust" by either selling them or changing title back to your individual names, e.g. from "JOHN and MARY DOE, FAMILY TRUST, JOHN and MARY DOE TRUSTEES" to JOHN and MARY DOE, husband and wife, as joint tenants or however you choose to hold title.
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