This is the next post in the series on how to use revocable living as a powerful estate planning tool.  My last post discussed the creation and purpose of a revocable living trust.  In short, it is an estate planning tool – created by the creator while alive – that outlines the disposition of the property it holds upon their death, and nominates a successor trustee, while still retaining complete control over the property.  The trust creator also known as a trustor, grantor, or settlor can revoke or change the trust provisions anytime during their lifetime.  In this post, I will focus on the significant benefits it offers.  There are common misconceptions about trust being solely used by the ultra-wealthy to avoid paying estate taxes.  The interplay between estate tax and a revocable living trust will be discussed in the upcoming article.  My goal is to clear the air and help explain what a living trust is actually good for.  As mentioned in my previous post, another goal of mine is to provide you with the information to help you select the right estate planning attorney.  If you or a loved one is considering an Oklahoma revocable living trust, please get in touch with our estate planning law firm online or by telephone to speak to a knowledgeable wills and trusts lawyer.

An Oklahoma revocable living trust helps you avoid probate

You may be wondering what the big deal with probate is and why creating a trust to avoid it is worthwhile.  Allow me to explain.  A probate is a court proceeding that occurs after your death to settle up and distribute your assets.  This is required, regardless of whether you die with (testate) or without (intestate) a valid will.  The probate process is not only public but also can be lengthy, tying up assets for months or even years.  However, a revocable living trust is exempt from this process, making it one of the major benefits of having such a trust.

Avoiding probate brings numerous advantages.  The probate proceedings involve a multitude of requirements, including court filings, appointments, hearings, correspondence, debt and creditor dealings, asset inventorying, and assessments.  Until the process concludes, the assets will be tied up in the proceeding, therefore preventing the beneficiaries from taking immediate possession.  Standard probate proceedings typically take about six months, but complex or contested estates can prolong the process, forcing the heirs into a slow-moving system for an extended period.  Conversely, a trust instrument allows for asset distribution to bypass the probate process, thereby enabling beneficiaries to receive their share more quickly.

Probate is expensive.  The administrator, filings, correspondence, publication, accounting, asset-inventorying, and appraisal – all cost money.  By avoiding the process you relieve the estate and ultimately the beneficiaries from having to incur additional expenses associated with estate administration.  The cost incurred now in creating a trust will likely be offset by the cost of probate that will be required later.

An Oklahoma revocable living trust helps you preserve privacy

Probate proceedings are essentially public processes that involve inventorying and appraising assets.  Even a document as private as the last will and testament becomes a matter of public record when filed with the court and accessible to anyone.  While some individuals may not be concerned about the public nature of probate, those who prioritize estate privacy find solace in a revocable living trust, which maintains confidentiality and keeps personal affairs hidden from prying eyes.

An Oklahoma revocable living trust helps you avoid guardianship or conservatorship proceedings

While a last will and testament facilitate asset distribution upon death, it fails to account for the possibility of incapacity or disability before death.  In the absence of a designated representative, the court assumes responsibility and appoints a guardian to act on your behalf.  However, a revocable living trust prevents this scenario by allowing the trust creator to appoint a successor trustee.  In the event of the creator’s incapacity, the successor trustee assumes control over the assets, removing the court’s involvement in this critical decision.

If you or a loved one is in need of an estate planning attorney, we are here to help.  We will give your case the attention it deserves, assess the facts, and make the appropriate recommendation that fits your situation.  Contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with an estate planning law firm and speak to a wills and trusts attorney.  We proudly serve Oklahoma County, Logan County, Cleveland County, and Grady County.