When someone passes away, there is a legal process for administering and managing his or her estate, which is often referred to as estate administration. Instead of creating a will that outlines how assets will be distributed after death, a person can put those directives in another document, called a living trust. A trust is a legal document that designates a person or corporation to act as a trustee to administer the trust property according to the trust instructions. The individual who drafts the trust is considered the “grantor” or “settlor.” Those who receive assets or income from the trust are known as “beneficiaries.” The individual who is assigned as the trustee has a responsibility to uphold and manage the trust property for the beneficiaries named in the trust document. If you or someone you know is considering establishing a trust, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft this important legal tool.
The Difference Between a Will and a Trust
A will only takes effect upon a person’s death. A living trust becomes valid during the grantor’s lifetime and can be either revocable or irrevocable. A living trust designates a trustee and explains the steps for administering the trust during a person’s life in addition to after his or her death. It is important to note that the trust document simply sets up the trust, which remains empty until assets are placed into the trust.
An individual can be the sole beneficiary of his or her trust while he or she is living. Alternatively, he or she can name a spouse or children as other beneficiaries. In the event the grantor becomes incapacitated due to a serious illness or injury, the trust designates a successor trustee to manage the assets. Upon the grantor’s death, the living trust instructs the distribution of assets like it would in a will. These assets may include cash, life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), stock portfolios, real estate, and other business interests. By putting who gets what into writing can prevent arguments or disputes between family members who believe they are entitled to any assets.
The Benefits of a Living Trust
The benefits of a living trust include avoiding going to court for probate and guardianship proceedings (in the event a minor is involved). A living trust can be especially useful when someone owns real estate property in more than one state. Generally, real estate is probated in the state where it is located. There are people who may own real estate in one or more states, which usually requires probate to be administered in the owner’s home state. However, probate must also be conducted in any other state in which a person has property. Since probate is not necessary for property that is held in a trust, homeowners can forgo this additional administration as long as the out-of-state real estate is included in the living trust.
Unlike a will, a living trust is private since it is not a public record.
Contact a South Barrington Estate Planning Lawyer
Thinking about and planning ahead for your future is important to prevent disputes among family members upon your death or if you become incapacitated. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to create a living trust instead of a will. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, are well-versed in Illinois law pertaining to estates. Our accomplished Long Grove estate planning attorneys will help you draft and review these essential legal documents. Call our office today at 847-934-8000 to schedule a free consultation.