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Revocable Family Trusts in Estate Planning

A Revocable Family Trust

A trust which is set up while the grantor is alive is called an inter vivos trust.  A Revocable Trust is such a trust.  Usually the trust is set up to benefit the grantor and the grantor’s family members.  A revocable family trust must be “funded” which means there must be money or other assets in the trust, even if it only a portion of the grantor’s assets.

Sharing Control of the Trust

A grantor assigns a trustee to control the trust, and in New York the grantor himself may serve as trustee. One benefit to naming a co-trustee is the ability to continue administration of the trust by  the co-trustee if the grantor becomes too ill to continue to manage the trust.  This arrangement of “co-trustees” allows a grantor to keep control of the trust as well as control how and when the assets are distributed while he is alive and mentally capable of making the decisions.

The grantor can also give specific instructions to the co-trustee as to how assets should be managed once he is no longer able to manage the trust.  The transfer of power from the one trustee to the other co-trustee can be accomplished without court intervention, legal fees and without a guardianship.

Professional Trustees

A trustee may be a family member or close friend, or may be a professional trustee such as a banker or trust company.  A professional can offer management advice for investment strategy and tax issues.  A grantor may choose to serve as co-trustee with a professional trustee, or assign a family member who knows the needs of the family to serve alongside an experienced professional.

Get Legal Help

Choosing who should be trustee of a revocable family trust and any combination of co-trustees has legal and practical consequences.  Before making the decisions regarding trustees, consult experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman and better understand all your options.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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