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Reasons for a living trust

New York residents who have a complex estate or a blended family might wish to set up a revocable living trust. There are some reasons why this could be a good idea.

The distribution of assets pursuant to a will requires in most cases a lengthy probate process. Life insurance benefits, pay-on-death accounts, IRAs, pensions and government bonds pass directly to named beneficiaries, but those with other assets might set up a trust to avoid probate. Assets jointly owned with the right of survivorship bypass probate as well.

A trust could also be created in conjunction with a "pour over"will so that items not included in a trust are added to it when one passes away. However, these assets would go through the probate process. The settlor of a living trust is usually the trustee, but the document will also name a successor trustee who will assume that responsibility upon the settlor's death.

Putting property in a living trust can be more convenient when one has a vacation home or other real estate in different states so that one does not have to go through probate in multiple states. To transfer a home to a trust, it must be retitled in the trust's name.

Thinking about estate planning early lets one protect his or her family in case an unexpected situation occurs and ensures that one's last wishes are recorded, but wills and trusts are not always permanent. People are encouraged to review their estate planning documents periodically with the assistance of an attorney in order to ensure that they reflect any life or family changes.

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