Phrases like “trust fund baby” make it seem like trusts are the province of the wealthy. But the fact is that they can be useful estate planning tools for people of more modest means.

As an Arizona estate planning law firm, we often help clients start living trusts, which allow the creators to hold assets in behalf of designated beneficiaries. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. Most people prefer the revocable variety, because the creator retains the power to make changes to the trust during his or her lifetime.

While it’s also important to have a will as part of your estate planning, there are several benefits of creating a living trust. Here are five commonly cited ones:

  • Control — A revocable living trust lets you name yourself as the trustee and retain full use and control of the trust property while you are alive. You can also choose who will be your successor trustee, to take over the trust after your death or incapacity.
  • Incapacity planning — Your successor trustee steps in to manage the trust if you become incapacitated. This saves your family and your estate the time and expense of getting a court-appointed custodian to deal with the trust.
  • Avoidance of probate — Assets passed by will must go through the probate process, which is expensive and time-consuming. Conversely, any property you put into a living trust will pass directly to your chosen beneficiary. There are no court costs and your beneficiaries receive the property quickly, whereas probate can take months or even years.
  • Privacy — Anything that goes through probate becomes a matter of public record. That means anyone could look up the details of your estate and how you distributed it. Living trusts, however, remain private. They do not need to be filed in court and no one will be able to look up the details.
  • Conflict reduction —Upon your passing, all of your heirs will be notified about your will, including anyone who is left out or given less benefits than they feel they are entitled to. This can lead to conflict within your family. Living trusts do not have such a notice requirement.

Whether or not a living trust is a good fit for you depends on your specific estate planning goals and needs. Trusts to tend to cost more to create and to manage than do wills, so that may be a consideration for you. The best thing to do is discuss your options with an experienced, local estate planning attorney.

Based in Mesa, the Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC helps people create living trusts and all other estate planning documents. We listen closely to your goals and then help you take the steps to achieve them. Call (480) 500-1866 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney. Se habla español.