A living trust is a very useful estate planning tool that can be a great alternative to a last will.
Why would you look for alternative?
People that think that a will is the best choice because the heirs receive inheritances quickly with no hassles are sorely mistaken. If you use a will to state your final wishes, you would name an executor (also known as a “personal representative” in South Carolina) to act as the administrator. This person would not be able to act in a vacuum.
Under the laws of the state of South Carolina, the will would be admitted to probate. The executor would handle the tasks that must be completed to administer the estate, and the court would supervise.
No inheritances are distributed while the estate is being probated, and it will typically take a minimum of eight months to a year in most jurisdictions, with complicated or contested estates taking much longer. There are expenses that accumulate during probate that reduce the value of the estate, and probate records are available to the general public.
If you use a living trust instead, these drawbacks are avoided. The trustee that you name in the document would be allowed to distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
This is one of the benefits, but there are a number of others that we will look at it in another blog post.
Shared Living Trusts for Married Couples
If you are married, a shared living trust can be a great choice if you and your spouse are on the same page. This type of trust would be appropriate if there is a good bit of jointly owned property and both partners want to leave their interest in the shared property to one another.
There is no loss of control when you establish a living trust, because you and your spouse would be co-trustees while you are alive. Nothing would change with regard to your ability to access and control all property that you signed over to the trust.
A scenario where the surviving spouse inherits everything that is in the trust, including separate property, is the simplest and most straightforward way to proceed. However, separate property can be conveyed into this type of trust, and there could be different beneficiaries.
After the death of one spouse, there can be just one trustee, and the survivor would have the ability to keep the trust intact for the benefit of the children or any other beneficiaries. It would simply be a living trust with a single trustee that has total control of the resources.
It should be noted that married couples can create two different separate revocable living trusts. This would be the better choice if there is no community property, separate beneficiaries, and the people involved of agree to keep their financial affairs separate from one another.
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Our attorneys have developed a very useful worksheet that you can use to gain a more thorough understanding of the estate planning process. There is no charge for this valuable resource, so we urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to build on your knowledge.
You can visit our worksheet access page to get your copy right now.
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