E.A. Goodman Law, LLC regularly advises individuals and families throughout New Jersey about establishing a revocable living trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan. While some believe that these trusts are only for the wealthy, many estate planners establish living trusts to achieve objectives such as protecting assets and avoiding probate.
When you consult with us, we will work with you to create a well-conceived revocable living trust tailored to your unique needs and goals. Principal attorney Elga Goodman has a well-earned reputation as a trusted advisor who provides her clients with informed representation and caring, efficient service. Contact our Morristown office today to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Why Your New Jersey Estate Plan Should Include a Revocable Trust
A revocable living trust, often referred to as a living trust, is a legal arrangement whereby you are allowed to manage your assets during your lifetime and efficiently transfer them to the named beneficiaries after your passing. This estate planning tool is a separate and distinct document from a will, but the two are used jointly to ensure the seamless management and distribution of the settlor’s (the person making the trust) assets.
In this arrangement, your titled assets are transferred into the trust, but you continue managing them by serving as both the trustee and beneficiary. For the trust to achieve its intended purpose, your assets must be properly transferred into the trust, either by retitling the asset (such as a house) or assigning the assets to the trust (e.g. other property, investments).
You should know that any assets not properly transferred into the trust will be subject to probate; we’ll discuss probate below. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the term “revocable” means that the trust can be modified at any time, whether by transferring property into and out of the trust or changing beneficiary designations.
Finally, a living trust allows you to appoint a successor trustee to carry out your instructions for managing your assets in the event of your incapacity and distributing them upon your death. In other words, a revocable living trust accomplishes more than transferring your assets when you pass away, it allows you to plan for the financial future of you and your family. Trust E.A. Goodman Law to help you design a living trust that allows you to achieve your objectives.
While there are many benefits to a revocable living trust, one of the main purposes is to avoid probate. Put simply, since you no longer own the assets, the trust does, and therefore, probate is not necessary; provided that all the assets are transferred into the trust as mentioned above.
Also, a living trust serves as a convenient incapacity planning tool because it allows the successor trustee to take over managing your assets in the event you suffer an illness or injury and cannot speak for yourself, which bypasses the guardianship or conservatorship process. These devices are particularly useful in situations where probate may become complicated, such as for estate planners who own second homes or properties in multiple estates.
Finally, divorced individuals who wish to protect the inheritance rights of children from first marriages, or establish those rights for new spouses and members of blended families, can also benefit from creating a living trust.
In short, a properly funded trust avoids the public, time-consuming probate process and enables your loved ones to administer your estate privately and efficiently. While probate is not necessary, all New Jersey trusts must go through an administrative process to ensure the assets are properly transferred to the beneficiaries.
As you can see, there are a number of advantages to establishing a revocable living trust. A trust is a more complex legal document than a will, however, which is why it is wise to consult with an experienced New Jersey trust and estate attorney.
Trust E.A. Goodman Law To Prepare Your Living Trust
When you become our client, we will take the time to understand your financial circumstances, learn about your family and your life, and work closely with you to establish a properly structured trust, one that achieves your estate planning objectives. Knowing that no two estates are alike, we will design a trust that is well-suited for your situation.
Once your trust is in place, we will also work to help you fund the trust. This is simply the process by which your titled assets are transferred into the trust. Keep in mind assets that pass outside of probate do not need to be transferred, such as:
- Assets with beneficiary designations (e.g. life insurance policy, annuity payable directly to a named beneficiary)
- IRAs, Keoghs, 401(k) accounts, and most other retirement accounts
- Bank accounts that are set up as payable-on-death account (POD for short)
In addition to transferring titled assets to your trust, any assets acquired after the trust is established must also be transferred, which requires creating a pour-over will to ensure your remaining assets are automatically transferred to the trust upon your death.
Given the complexities involved in preparing a revocable living trust, you need the compassionate, efficient representation E.A. Goodman Law provides. Contact us today so we can start working on your living trust and protecting you and your family.