A living trust and a last will and testament can form the foundation of a complete estate plan in Utah. A living trust is not a substitute for a will. Instead, these two important estate planning documents can work together to help avoid probate and to help ensure that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes and without unnecessary complications. In Davis County, we can help you create a complete custom-tailored estate plan designed to help protect you and those you care about. We work individually with clients to ensure that the estate plans we create meet their needs and goals. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
What is a “living” trust?
A living trust is a trust created during the grantor’s or trustor’s lifetime, whereas a testamentary trust is a trust that is established by a person’s last will and testament and which only comes into being upon that person’s death. Whereas a testamentary trust can only be effective in distributing or managing property after the grantor’s/testator’s death, under Utah law a living trust can be used to hold and manage property during the grantor’s lifetime as well as to manage and distribute property after the grantor’s death. Living trusts are also sometimes referred to using the Latin term “inter vivos” trust. Living trusts play an important role in many of our Davis County clients’ estate plans.
The terms “living will” and “living trust” are frequently confused. Whereas a living trust is an instrument that controls the use and distribution of assets or property, a living will is a document outlining a person’s end-of-life health care decisions and wishes.
What are the benefits of a living trust?
One of the most common purposes or benefits of establishing a living trust is its ability to help avoid probate. There are rare and rather exceptional circumstances that may require a probate action even when a living trust has been properly established, executed, and funded. But in most cases a well-drafted and properly funded living trust can help avoid the need for probate. The probate process in Davis County can be expensive and time-consuming, in some cases costing even more than what it would have cost to establish a complete estate plan including a living trust.
Living trusts (along with a durable power of attorney) can also help to avoid the need to obtain a guardianship for the grantor during his/her lifetime. In the event that you become incapacitated or unable to manage your own affairs during your lifetime, a living trust may provide another person with the authority needed to help avoid a guardianship.
A living trust, like a last will and testament can provide detailed instructions as to the management or distribution of your assets after your death. Without either a living trust or a testamentary trust, Utah law requires the immediate (or as soon as practicable) distribution of your estate following your death. In some cases, immediate distribution is not a problem. But if you anticipate circumstances that would justify delaying distribution, staged or stepped distributions, or ongoing management of assets or property on behalf of another person, then a living trust or testamentary trust is required. A delayed or managed distribution is often desired in cases involving minor children or beneficiaries who are not able or prepared to to manage a substantial inheritance. A trust provides you with the flexibility to manage the distribution of assets in a way that is most appropriate for your specific circumstances.
Finding an Estate Planning and Trusts Lawyer in Utah
Our lawyers are pleased to help clients in Davis County and throughout Utah in establishing personalized estate plans including living trusts and other important tools. If you already have an estate plan, we can help you review your existing plan and update it to ensure that it continues to fit your needs, goals, and changing circumstances. If it has been more than a couple of years since you created or updated your estate plan, a review may be in order. Contact us today to see how a qualified estate planning attorney can help you.