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Revocable trusts, which are also known as “living trusts” or “loving trusts” are legal documents used in estate planning. In simple terms, a revocable trust is a trust that is created during your lifetime. It is a written agreement that appoints a trustee to manage and administer property that has been transferred to them. Revocable living trusts can be established by any competent adult and they are termed “revocable trusts” because they are just that – you can change the terms at any point in time or invalidate it all together.
Unlike a will, revocable trusts can help you manage assets during your lifetime or protect you if you were to become disabled, ill, or otherwise medically challenged. By authorizing the trustee to manage the property according to your terms should you become incapacitated, you do not need to appoint a guardian for that purpose. Like a last will and testament, it provides directions on how assets are to be handled in the event of your death.
These legal documents have been used by generations of individuals regardless of age or wealth and they offer an element of privacy that does not exist with a last will and testament. Unlike a will, which is public and available to anyone who requests a copy, a revocable trust does not pass through the probate courts and, as such, is not part of the public record. Only in special circumstances where an heir contests the estate and sues the trustee in court might the trust become part of the public record.
Because revocable trusts do not process through the probate courts in the same fashion as a last will and testament, they afford additional benefits besides greater privacy. The assets assigned in the trust are passed to beneficiaries in a more timely manner than typical in the probate process, and without the costly expense.
Revocable trusts can be an effective estate planning tool. Deciding whether a revocable trust should be part of your overall estate plan is a decision that should be based on a variety of factors, and made in consultation with an estate planning professional.
Estate planning can be complex and overwhelming, but it is a necessary process to ensure your loved ones are provided for after your death. The Maryland estate planning specialists at Altman & Associates have more than 40 years experience and serve as the premier estate planning law firm in Maryland, Washington D.C, and Northern Virginia. We have convenient office locations in Columbia and Rockville. Contact us by phone at (301) 468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation.