A living trust is a probate avoidance document that takes effect immediately upon execution. During your lifetime, it can be amended or revoked to meet changing circumstances. Almost all of your assets are transferred into the trust after it is created. During your lifetime, you (and your spouse or partner, if applicable) are the trustee(s) of the trust and maintain control over the assets in the same manner as if the assets were not titled in the name of the trust.
A living trust describes how your assets will be administered during your lifetime, the administration upon the death of the first spouse or partner, and the ultimate distribution upon the death of the individual or second spouse or partner. Proper drafting of a living trust allows the settlor(s) to avoid probate (a long and expensive court administered proceeding) when they die.
In some circumstances, an irrevocable trust may be appropriate to hold specialized assets, such as a joint and survivor insurance policy. When properly drafted and administered, the assets in a special needs trust are not included in an individual's estate when they pass away.
All trusts need to be drafted by a professional in consultation with the settlors-the individuals who create the trust. Please contact the Law Office of Jerome B. Smith for a free consultation regarding your living trust.