A Revocable Living Trust is the foundational trust of estate planning and the most important document you will ever sign to protect your loved ones. By establishing a trust, a person is able to hold title to real and personal property in the name of the trust resulting in many benefits.
Top 9 Benefits of Revocable Living Trusts
1. Avoid probate costs upon death
A very key benefit of establishing a Revocable Living Trust is that it saves your beneficiaries from probate. Probate is very expensive. If you have assets over $100,000 and die without a Revocable Living Trust, even if you have a will, your estate must be probated. Your estate includes the full appraised value of your home (not just the equity), your life insurance benefits, all your financial assets, and the value of your business if you are self-employed. If your total estate was worth $1 million and you died without a Revocable Living Trust, your heirs would pay mandatory probate fees of $46,000 to the attorney and executor, plus court costs.
STATUTORY PROBATE FEES FOR ADMINISTRATION (executor and attorney)
| ||Value of Estate||% of estate in fees||$ fee|| |
| ||$100,000||8.0%||$ 8,000|| |
| ||$500,000||5.2%||$ 26,000|| |
| ||$1,000,000||4.6%||$ 46,000|| |
| ||$3,000,000||2.9%||$ 86,000|| |
| ||$5,000,000||2.5%||$126,000|| |
| ||$10,000,000||2.3%||$226,000|| |
| ||$15,000,000||1.8%||$276,000|| |
2. Avoid probate delays upon deathProbate is also very lengthy. If you die without a Revocable Living Trust and have assets over $100,000, the courts take control. The probate process usually takes at least 9 months, and could take up to 2 years before assets are distributed.
3. You determine who gets what, upon your death
If you don’t create an estate plan, the government will do it for you, according to intestacy laws, which have default beneficiaries for people who die without an estate plan in place. They may not be who you would select to receive your property and investments. You may want to leave assets to your grandchildren. You may want to divide assets unequally to your children. You may want to leave money to a charity. You may want to provide for a friend or partner that you are not married to. Your unique situation is evaluated and addressed in your Revocable Living Trust.
4. Disability protection from court proceedings
If you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, the courts can take control of your assets if you don’t have an estate plan. With a Revocable Living Trust, your Trustee or Co-Trustee will be able to manage your financial affairs according to your instructions. If you recover, you automatically take back control, without involvement of the courts. You give instructions in your Revocable Living Trust to specify who has the authority to determine if you are incapacitated.
5. Financial protection for minor children
If you have minor children, and die or become incapacitated without an estate plan, the court will appoint their guardian and control their inheritance. In your Revocable Living Trust you will name a trustee to manage your child’s assets and provide expense money until they reach the age that you want them to inherit your assets. With a Revocable Living Trust the court cannot control the inheritance, though it will have the right to approve your choice of guardian.
6. Control over the age at which beneficiaries inherit
You can designate that assets are inherited in installments upon reaching different ages, so that a child without financial maturity doesn’t squander them. Adult children can also be irresponsible with a windfall inheritance. You can establish the age of when, and conditions of how, your children receive their inheritance.
7. Provides financial privacy
When you assign a trustee in your Revocable Living Trust, the trustee handles all of the property and financial transfers to beneficiaries. Courts are not involved, nothing is made public to the media, and records are private.
8. Can be changed any time before your death or incapacity
Your Revocable Living Trust is revocable, so you may decide to change your Trustee, Successor Trustees, or Beneficiaries at any time. Changes in your family due to marriage, divorce, births, deaths, or incapacity may effect how you want to name beneficiaries, and updates can be made as needed.
9. Maintain control
As opposed to other forms of title such as Joint Tenancy, a Revocable Living Trust gives you the flexibility of changing your mind, or dissolving your trust at any time. You still have full control of your assets, conducting your financial affairs as you always have. You become the Trustee of your Trust, or you can name someone else to be your Trustee or Co-Trustee. As long as you are mentally and physically able, you retain complete control over the assets in the trust.