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1. What is a Living Trust?

A Living Trust allows you to hold legal title to your assets and manage them while you are alive and well, as well as designate successor trustees to follow your instructions in the event of incapacity. It usually becomes effective immediately after incapacity or death and, unlike a Will, when properly funded, avoids the publicity, expense, delays and frustration of probate. It can also allow for the management of your affairs without the need of a conservatorship or guardianship proceeding. A Living Trust is revocable, meaning it can be changed whenever you want, and even terminated. See the Estate Planning section of our website for further information, or call our office to learn more.

2. How does a Living Trust let me stay in control of my assets?

While you are alive and well, a Living Trust gives you complete control of your hard-earned assets. In effect, you are the Trustee of your Trust, and can make any transaction you choose, just like you could before you had the trust created. The Living Trust can be modified at any time or terminated if you so desire. If you become incapacitated, your durable power of attorney takes effect and permits your loved ones to make transactions on your behalf, but only according to the instructions detailed in the Living Trust. When you pass away, the trust becomes what is known as "irrevocable,” and nobody can change the instructions you dictated originally.

It is important to note that in the case of married couples, the surviving spouse retains control over his or her share of assets following its transfer to the survivor’s trust, and only the deceased spouse’s share becomes "irrevocable."

3. Should all of my assets go into the Living Trust?

Not necessarily. Certain assets, such as those with specific beneficiary designations like insurance policies or annuities do not need to go into a Living Trust. Many retirement accounts also transfer automatically to named beneficiaries without having to go through probate. Of course, it is important for the distribution of assets such as these to be coordinated with your Trust and overall estate plan, preferably with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

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Huron Valley Law Center, PLC
2850 S. Milford Road
Highland, Michigan 48357
Phone: 248.685.8743
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