More and more individuals are putting their assets into Revocable Living Trusts (“RLT”), which are completely flexible and broadly adaptable arrangements for management, protection and distribution of a family’s assets.
A RLT is created during your lifetime and is funded with most or all of your assets by simply re-titling the assets to yourself as trustee.
While you are living, you will have complete control over the assets in your revocable trust. Upon your death, trust assets will be distributed according to your instructions, not the default provisions set by state statute.
A RLT is revocable during your lifetime, which means that its terms are changeable and assets in the trust can be re-transferred to your name if desired without adverse tax consequences.
A RLT is a private agreement where the distribution of assets under the terms of the trust is not subject to the publicity given to wills in probate proceedings. A probated will goes through the courts and becomes a matter of public record.
The complete flexibility of a RLT means that one can be drafted to suit your individual needs and family situation.
When you create a RLT you can act as your own trustee, so there are no management fees or loss of control. You can change or modify the trust terms at any time, change beneficiaries, add or delete assets held by the trust without tax consequences.
A RLT does not complicate the management of your assets. While protecting your property within a living trust, you can do whatever you can do now with your assets and property. You can buy, sell, borrow, make gifts, etc. With a RLT you retain control over all your property and assets during your lifetime, and you determine distribution of your estate after your death. Since a RLT is revocable, it has no income tax consequences during your lifetime; no separate tax return is even filed, and all trust income is reported under your social security number.
With a RLT, you are also appointing someone else (a professional, a trusted friend, or a family member) to manage the assets in your trust for your benefit in the event you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself (e.g., Alzheimer’s, a stroke, an accident, etc.) and, because the assets are in a trust, no court administered conservatorship will be required. Under a RLT, you have the successor trustee of your choice ready to step in and take over your affairs until you recover, or for the remainder of your lifetime.