Assets that are jointly held in Trust for someone, or in a Living Trust avoid Probate. Beware the pitfalls of joint ownership. It may be difficult to have the property returned on request to its original owner during his or her lifetime. Joint assets may also be subject to the control of the new owner and the new owner’s creditors. Joint ownership between spouses won’t eliminate Probate but will only delay it until the death of the surviving spouse. Joint ownership can also have adverse income and Estate Tax consequences.
A Living Trust is an enormously flexible and useful vehicle. Assets of the owner(s) are re-titled into the name of the Trust. The original owner(s) becomes his or her own trustee and maintains control of the assets, which are not subject to Probate. To avoid guardianship, the owner appoints a successor trustee to manage the Trust property if he or she becomes incapacitated.
Among its many benefits, a Living Trust:
- Avoids Probate delays and expenses
- Represents opportunity for professional asset management
- Permits distribution over a longer period of time
- Allows prompt transfer of management upon disability
- Avoids guardianship
- Reduces the likelihood of the Will being contested
- Coordinates distribution of assets through one vehicle
- Is especially important with out-of-state real estate
- Provides maximum privacy
- Is inexpensive and easy to set up and maintain
- Prevents court control of inheritance by minors
Upon the death of the creator of the Trust, the family may need to “administer the Trust”. Somewhat like a Probate in that it “wraps up the estate”, there is no court involved, making this procedure less timely and less expensive.
It is always stressful when a loved on dies. Our office works with families on many difficult issues, distribution of wealth being one of them.
We are pleased and prepared to assist you and your family in expeditiously and peacefully administering your trust and estate including any necessary Probate proceeding.