A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable, says Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled “Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: Which Is Better?” And not everyone needs a trust. For some, a will may be enough. However, if you have substantial assets or a complex plan to pass on to family members or charity, a trust can make this much easier.
There are many different types of trusts you can establish, and a revocable trust is a trust that can be changed or terminated at any time during the lifetime of the grantor (i.e., the person making the trust). This means you could:
- Add or remove beneficiaries at any time
- Transfer new assets into the trust or remove ones that are in it
- Change the terms of the trust concerning how assets should be managed or distributed to beneficiaries; and
- Terminate or end the trust altogether.
When you die, a revocable trust becomes irrevocable, and no further changes can be made to its terms. An irrevocable trust is permanent. If you create an irrevocable trust during your lifetime, any assets you transfer to the trust must stay in the trust. You can’t change the terms of the trust.
The significant advantage of choosing a revocable trust is flexibility. A revocable trust allows you to make changes, and an irrevocable trust doesn’t. Revocable trusts can also allow your heirs to avoid probate when you die. However, a revocable trust doesn’t offer the same protection against creditors as an irrevocable trust. If you’re sued, creditors could still try to attach trust assets to satisfy a judgment. The assets in a revocable trust are part of your taxable estate and subject to federal estate taxes when you die.
In addition to protecting assets from creditors, irrevocable trusts can help manage estate tax obligations. The assets are owned by the trust (not you), so estate taxes are avoided. Holding assets in an irrevocable trust can also be helpful if you’re trying to qualify for Medicaid to help pay for long-term care and want to avoid having to spend down assets.
But again, you can’t change this type of trust, and you can’t act as your own trustee. Once the trust is set up, and the assets are transferred, you no longer have control over them.
Speak with an experienced estate planning or probate attorney to see if a revocable or an irrevocable trust is best or whether you even need a trust.
Reference: Yahoo Finance (Sep. 10, 2022) “Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: Which Is Better?”