Although your Last Will and Testament will provide the foundation for your comprehensive estate plan, you will likely incorporate additional documents and strategies into your plan to ensure that all your estate planning goals and objectives are reached. One of the most common additions to an estate plan is a living trust. Once used primarily by the wealthy as a way to control the family fortune, trusts have evolved over the years to the point where the average estate planner can benefit from the addition of a trust. Trusts are divided into two broad categories – living trusts and testamentary trusts. A living trust is a trust that can provide a wide variety of benefits to you now while you are still here as well as benefit your loved ones after you are gone.
At the Charleston, South Carolina law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn, we are dedicated to helping you create a living trust that is tailored to your unique needs and estate planning goals. Contact the South Carolina law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn by calling 843-577-3700 or by using our online contact form today to discuss how a living trust may benefit you and your estate plan.
What Is a Living Trust?
All trusts fall into one of two categories – testamentary trusts and inter vivos trusts (also known as “living trusts”). A testamentary trust is one that does not become effective until the death of the Trustor, or creator of the trust. A living trust, on the other hand, will take effect when all the formalities of creation are complete and the trust has been funded. Living trusts can further be divided into revocable and irrevocable living trusts. As the name implies, a revocable living trust is one that can be modified or revoked by the Trustor at any time and for any reason. An irrevocable living trust, however, cannot be changed or revoked once it takes effect except by a court, and then only for good cause.
How Can a Living Trust Benefit You and Your Estate Plan?
Living trusts have increased in popularity over the past several decades in part because of the numerous benefits they provide to an estate plan. Some of those benefits include:
- Flexibility – trusts have evolved to the point where there is a specialized living trust available that can be created to achieve almost any estate planning objective.
- Control – when you gift an asset outright in your Last Will and Testament you give up all control over the asset once the gift is made. By gifting assets in a living trust you can effectively retain a certain degree of control over those assets through the trust terms you create as the Trustor.
- Asset protection – by creating the right type of living trust you can protect assets from creditors now while you are alive, as well as protect them from a spendthrift beneficiary and/or from a beneficiary’s spouse should he or she get divorced in the future.
- Probate avoidance – even a relatively small estate can take months to probate, leaving beneficiaries without access to assets intended for their benefit. A living trust, however, bypasses the probate process, making those assets immediately available to the beneficiaries.
- Privacy – documents filed during the probate of an estate are public record. If you prefer to keep your gifts private, a living trust may be the answer as a living trust does not go through probate.
The South Carolina living trust attorneys at the law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn are committed to helping you create a living trust that will benefit you and your estate plan. Contact the law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn by calling 843-577-3700 or by using our online contact form today to schedule your consultation so that we can discuss what type of living trust will best serve your needs.