One of the primary reasons why some estate planning attorneys have traditionally recommended revocable living trusts would be to enable probate avoidance. However, there are many other reasons that people choose this method of estate planning.
For example, one reason why a revocable living trust may be used as an alternative to a will is to ensure the privacy of the parties involved in the transfer. When you use these trusts only the beneficiary of the trust and the trustee are aware of the details. When you use a will to express your wishes the details of your estate can be made public, and there are those who would prefer to keep these details confidential.
The operative word here is control. When you create the revocable living trust you can name yourself as both the trustee and the beneficiary, so you retain complete control of the assets in the trust throughout your life. But when you are drawing up the trust agreement you name a beneficiary who will receive distributions from the trust after your death, and you will also name a successor trustee to take over for you upon your death or disability. Both of these concepts ensure that you are in control during your life including any time you may be incapacitated and even after your death.
Many people will choose a loved one to serve as successor trustee and in the right circumstances, people may engage the services of a bank or trust company to serve as the successor trustee. In either case, the funds in the trust are being managed and distributed with professional due diligence so, where a loved one is chosen, he or she may engage the services of a bank or trust company to manage the investments but retain the right to be involved in the personal touches regarding your beneficiaries. No matter who you choose the trustee will distribute the funds in accordance with your wishes as stated in the agreement. So if you want to make sure that your beneficiary exhibits an appropriate amount of thrift you can limit the distributions as you see fit when you draw up the trust. But remember, things change; so giving your trustee discretion is unsually a wise choice.
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