What is a Living Trust?
When most people use the generic term “trust” they’re technically talking about a “Revocable Living Trust”. This is an estate planning tool that allows your assets to be transferred to whomever you like at your death, without the need for probate or other government intervention. Many clients prefer trusts to wills both because they are more convenient for those you leave behind, and also because they provide a bit more privacy than a will. Upon your death, a will must be “probated” — submitted to the court clerk in the city or county of your home. A trust, however, does not normally need to be submitted to the clerk and therefore has a bit more privacy regarding what the assets are and where they are going.
One way to think about a trust is to think of creating a trust much like creating a company. A trust, like a company, is a separate entity from any one person and the trust itself will own all your assets. Then, at your death, you pass the trust on to the person or people you designate. A trust is a legal entity that holds your assets until your death. Trusts can be created so that they live on beyond your death and benefit generations to come.
Do I Need A Living Trust?
Not every client needs a living trust. If you have assets like a home or vacation property and you have children, it is likely that you would benefit from a living trust. Some other unique situations, such as owning certain antique or “NFA” firearms, may also justify the creation of a trust (or perhaps a specialty trust for the firearms called a “gun trust”). The best way to know whether you’d benefit is to contact us for a consultation. We can sit down with you and discuss your situation, and provide you with specific advice regarding an estate plan and whether a trust would be a good addition for you.
Can’t I Just Make a Virginia Living Trust Online?
You can, but I wouldn’t. I’ve seen a number of trusts created by nolo and other similar web sites, as well as some do-it-yourself downloadable forms. I’ve yet to see one that didn’t have a major flaw — in some cases a flaw that would invalidate the entire document. Even when they say the forms are state-specific for Virginia, they still often fail to incorporate the correct language. We are not a form company, and a web site is not a lawyer. We work with individual clients and create customized solutions that match with the client’s needs. No online form site will meet with you, ask the right questions, and propose the right solutions in every case.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you create a living trust.