Sunday, January 15, 2017

Revocable Trusts in Estate Planning

Many people often wonder if as part of their estate planning they should include a revocable living trust.  The main purpose of establishing a revocable living trust is to avoid probate court.  Probate court is the method in which an Illinois probate judge determines, either by a person’s written wishes documented in a will or by the statute of intestate succession, how one’s assets are to be distributed once all of the estate’s creditors are paid.  The estate’s creditors are notified of the death of the testator by publication.  The creditors have six months from the time of publication to assert a claim against the estate.  Therefore, at least six months must pass, and often it can be a year or more, before an Illinois probate court can approve the distribution of the majority of the estate’s assets.  For this reason alone probate court can be time consuming and expensive.  Although there are several methods by which to transfer assets prior to one’s death, only a revocable living trust gives the same flexibility to distribute assets as a will.  Thus, a revocable living trust gives a person all of the benefits of a will while at the same time avoiding probate.    

A revocable living trust is an instrument that creates a separate identity very much like a corporation.  As the sole owner of the entity or the trustee of the trust you have the authority to transfer your assets into the trust while maintaining complete control over those assets while you are alive and legally competent.  Upon your death or legal disability the trust lives on and your successor trustee takes over control of the assets in the trust.  If you are disabled the successor trustee uses the assets or income from the trust to manage your health care and financial needs.   

A common misconception is that revocable living trusts are only for the very old or the very rich.  The fact is if you have children or own titled property a revocable living trust may be right for you.  Further, because it is a private contract and not subject to probate a revocable living trust will further spare your loved ones the emotional stress of publicly listing your estate’s assets with the probate court.  You should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine if a revocable living trust can assist you in making sure your loved ones are spared the expense, delay and publicity of probate.   For additional information please visit

While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with the most accurate information and honest analysis, the information on this site is for general information purposes only.