The Revocable Living Trust is quickly becoming a favorite of all couples because of its versatility, privacy and protection. A trust is a legal entity that you create during life to hold property. Upon passing, everything goes to the people you want, how you want, and when you want. There are several benefits to using a Living Trust that are even more important to unmarried and same-gender couples:
Living Trusts are Private and Harder to Contest
All information contained in a Last Will and Testament is part of the public record, and anyone can access those records. How much property you had, who your heirs are and where they live, and who got what are all listed in probate documents open to the public. These records provide an easy database for salespeople, con men, and private investigators to see how much money your heirs received and where they live.
A Revocable Living Trust is harder to contest than a Will. A Will becomes active upon the death of the person that made it, and someone contesting the will would only have to show that the person was not in their right mind on the date the Will was signed. A Living Trust is active from the date it is signed, and each and every transaction dealing with the Living Trust is another point in time that someone would have to prove the person was not in their right mind. Conceivably, if the house is in the name of the Living Trust and a bank account is in the name of the Living Trust, then each month the mortgage is paid out of the bank account, it is another transaction.
A Living Trust also provides substantial privacy since it does not become part of the public record like a Will does. (The Wills included in comprehensive domestic partnership estate plan are only to place property in your trust if something mistakenly ends up in the probate court.) If an heir or family member contests the validity of a Living Trust or the provisions in a Living Trust, the heir or family member is not even allowed to review the Living Trust unless the document allows it. Whenever your Living Trust is contested, the terms of the Living Trust allow a judge to review the document privately and make a ruling without the heirs or outside family members ever seeing it.
Living Trusts Avoid Probate
A Last Will and Testament is an order for a Court to review the deceased person’s estate and make sure that the property goes to the people outlined in the Will. A Revocable Living Trust transfers title of a couple’s property into a trust during life and then allows that property to pass to beneficiaries without court involvement. In plain English, it changes the label attached to property so it is owned by the trust and the trust dictates what, when and how property passes to your heirs without probate. If property is not in your name, then probate doesn’t control it.
The private distribution process outlined in a Living Trust dictates how the process will proceed, and the months or years of probate are cast aside in favor of a pss that may only take a few weeks. As a practical matter, the court does not generally care about the distribution of your property as long as your debts are handled, taxes are paid, the law is not violated and no one contests the trust.
Another Trustee May Manage Your Estate For You During Life
A Revocable Living Trust also allows both of you to relinquish control of the Trust during life to another Trustee. This Successor Trustee may then manage the financial affairs of the Revocable Living Trust in your name even though you are still alive. This relinquishing of control becomes particularly useful if one or both of you become medically incompetent. One partner can manage the affairs of the trust while the other is incapacitated.
If you would like for our firm to assist you with a comprehensive domestic partnership estate plan, then please proceed to the Questionnaire page and contact our office at (919) 844-7993.