Living Trusts Are All the Rage. Do You Need One?

A Huffington Post reader recently wrote in to the online newspaper and asked whether she needs a living trust — after all, she said, her friends are all getting one!

Well, color us surprised! A reader asking a major publication to think about estate planning? Usually it’s the other way around! Kudos to her!

HuffPo’s answer is mostly on point, though it perhaps exaggerates the expenses and costs associated with creating and funding living trusts. There’s no doubt about it, though: a living trust can be extremely beneficial, even for those who don’t have children or a lot of money.

Let’s look at why:

  • Privacy — Unlike wills admitted to probate, the terms of a living trust are kept private. That’s something your family will be extremely grateful for after you’re gone.
  • Control — You’re free to change the terms of a living trust — or even to revoke it altogether — at any time while you’re still alive. Moreover, you have the power to stipulate the specific terms and conditions under which the trust will operate.

There are a lot of good reasons to have a living trust, though we certainly concede that peer pressure isn’t one of them! Frankly, we’re surprise to hear that so many of the readers’ friends have already arranged one for themselves. The majority of Americans still don’t even have a basic will in place. Clearly, she runs in a smart circle. Good for her.

For our clients, there are a couple other reasons why to use a revocable living trust.

  •  Portability – Using a trust as the foundation for your plan, you can more easily relocate to a different state and not have to draw up new documents for that state.
  •  Easier Access To Money – A trust provides better access to investments during disability than a power of attorney. And, as a bonus, if you live (and die) in New Jersey, assets owned inside of a revocable living trust avoid the automatic tax lien placed on bank and investment accounts…a lien that can take almost 18 months to release.

If you’d like to talk about whether a living trust makes sense for you, give our Pennington estate planning attorneys a call. We offer affordable, effective, and customizable solutions for families of any size and means. Contact us today.