Although there are many kinds of trusts, the most common trust used in Estate Planning is the Revocable Living Trust, also referred to as the Living Trust, the Inter Vivos Trust, and the Revocable Inter Vivos Trust.
The Revocable Living Trust which for simplicity, I will refer to as a Trust, basically does the same thing as a Will but with many added benefits.
The main benefit is that unlike a Will which must be probated in court, a Trust avoids probate when it is properly created and funded.
A Trust is a legal entity, similar to a corporation, and as such it can own property. When a person puts all of their assets and property into the Trust (the trust is "funded"), and that person passes away, the Trust survives them. Therefore, because the Trust is the owner of the assets and property, no probate is needed.
A Successor Trustee named in the trust declaration or trust agreement settles the affairs of the decedent and distributes the remaining assets and property to the beneficiaries without a probate.
The avoidance of probate saves the estate thousands of dollars and a Trust usually allows for a faster and more private settlement of one's estate than the traditional Will.
I practice law in California, and I focus on Estate Planning, Trusts and Wills, as a major part of my law practice.
DWIGHT EDWARD TOMPKINS, Attorney at Law
My blog, Trusts and Estates, is for educational and informational purposes only, and it does not constitute legal advice. I practice law in California and my comments on this blog are applicable only to California. The laws of other jurisdictions may vary. You should always consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice in your jurisdiction.
California Bar No. 149756