#1 – Act as a Disability Plan. A revocable trust provides protection during three phases: what happens while the trust maker is alive and well, what happens if the trust maker is alive but not so well, and what happens after the trust maker dies. It’s during the second phase that trust really outshines a will – if the trust maker becomes incapacitated, the disability trustee can step in and take care of things immediately and without court intervention. This keeps the trust property under the control of a trusted family member or friend instead of a guardianship judge.
#2 – Keep Assets Outside of Probate. Probate is a time-consuming and costly court-supervised public process. A will-focused estate plan lands heirs squarely in probate court. A trust-focused estate plan allows the settlement trustee to step in and carry out the trust maker’s final wishes without any court involvement or oversight.
#3 – Keep a Minor’s Inheritance Outside of Guardianship. A minor who is named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, IRA, or payable-on-death account will require a court-appointed guardian to manage the property until 18. On the other hand, a trust for the minor can be created in a revocable trust and named as the beneficiary of the policy or account. This allows the client to decide how long the trust will continue – age 25 or 30, or even the beneficiary’s lifetime – not just until 18.
#4 – Keep Final Wishes Private. A will filed for probate becomes a public court record, which means anyone, including predators and your competitors, can go down to the local probate court and read wills and other probate documents. On the other hand, a revocable trust is a private document that remains confidential during life and after death.