Wills versus revocable trusts: The benefits of a living trust

A revocable living trust is not the same as a will, and it has some special benefits. To start with, you need to understand the differences. A revocable living trust is able to be altered at any time if you change your mind, similarly to how a will works. However, a revocable living trust spares your family the hassle of probate, which is something necessary when a will is used. Probate is a court-supervised process that is always required when someone dies with or without a will. Probate is the process by which the will is read and the estate passed to the heirs.

A revocable living trust doesn't require probate, because it's a contract between yourself and the trust entity. You, the grantor, serve as the trustee in life, and then, when you pass away, a successor takes over your position to help settle the trust and to distribute assets to your heirs.

Wills become public record, but revocable living trusts don't. This can be good for you if you want to leave certain gifts or assets to people but don't want others finding out. It protects your privacy and your legacy. The only time a revocable living trust may become a public record is if one of your heirs decides to challenge its validity.

Remember, it's not easy to challenge the validity of your trust if you take steps to establish your mental health. In the case that you become mentally incompetent, you can plan for who you want to have take over your position as the trustee.

Source: The Balance, "The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust vs. a Will," Julie Garber, accessed Aug. 23, 2017

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