Revocable living trusts are an essential estate planning tool that can help you protect your assets and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you're gone. If you're a resident of Wisconsin, creating a revocable living trust can be an excellent way to avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take a closer look at what a revocable living trust is, how it works, and how it can benefit you.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets into a trust, which is managed by a trustee of your choice. As the name suggests, this type of trust can be modified, changed, or revoked by you at any time, giving you complete control over your assets. When you create a revocable living trust, you become the trust's creator or grantor, and you can name yourself as the trustee, allowing you to continue managing your assets as you see fit.
How Does a Revocable Living Trust Work?
When you create a revocable living trust, you transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. This means that you're no longer the legal owner of your assets, but they're still under your control as the trustee. You can buy, sell, or manage the assets as you normally would. When you pass away, the trust's assets are transferred to your designated beneficiaries, avoiding probate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out according to the trust's terms.
Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust
One of the primary benefits of a revocable living trust is that it can help you avoid probate. Probate is a legal process that occurs when someone passes away, and it involves distributing the deceased's assets to their heirs. Probate can be a lengthy and costly process, and it can tie up your assets for months or even years. With a revocable living trust, your assets are transferred directly to your beneficiaries, bypassing the probate process.
Protect Your Privacy
Another benefit of a revocable living trust is that it can help protect your privacy. When your estate goes through probate, it becomes a matter of public record. This means that anyone can access information about your assets, debts, and beneficiaries. With a revocable living trust, your estate is distributed privately, and your personal information remains confidential.
Manage Your Assets
A revocable living trust also allows you to manage your assets during your lifetime. As the trustee, you retain control over your assets, and you can make changes to the trust as needed. This means that if your circumstances change, you can modify the trust to reflect your current wishes.
Ensure Your Wishes are Carried Out
Perhaps the most important benefit of a revocable living trust is that it ensures your wishes are carried out. When you create a trust, you can specify how your assets should be distributed after your death. This means that you can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of, and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
How to Create a Revocable Living Trust in Wisconsin
Creating a revocable living trust in Wisconsin is a straightforward process that typically involves the following steps:
1. Decide What Assets to Include in the Trust
The first step in creating a revocable living trust is to decide what assets to include in the trust. You can transfer a variety of assets into the trust, including real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, and personal property.
2. Choose a Trustee
Next, you'll need to choose a trustee to manage the trust. You can name yourself as the initial trustee, or you can appoint someone else, such as a family member, friend, or professional trustee, to serve as the trustee.
3. Draft the Trust Agreement
The next step is to draft the trust agreement, which is a legal document that sets forth the terms of the trust. The trust agreement should specify the beneficiaries of the trust, how the assets should be distributed, and any other conditions or restrictions that you want to impose.
4. Transfer Assets to the Trust
Once the trust agreement is drafted, you'll need to transfer ownership of the assets you want to include in the trust to the trust. This typically involves changing the titles of assets such as real estate, bank accounts, and investment accounts to the name of the trust.
5. Fund the Trust
To make the trust effective, you need to fund it by transferring ownership of the assets to the trust. This is typically done by re-titling assets in the name of the trust.
6. Review and Update the Trust as Needed
Finally, it's essential to review and update your trust periodically to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. You can modify or revoke the trust as needed, making it a flexible and adaptable estate planning tool.
Is a Revocable Living Trust Right for You?
A revocable living trust is not the best option for everyone, and it is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine if a revocable living trust is right for your specific needs. Some factors to consider include:
- The size and complexity of your estate
- Your family situation and goals
- Your tax situation
- Your personal preferences and values
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Wisconsin at Heritage Law Office
At Heritage Law Office, we understand the importance of protecting your assets and your loved ones' future. That's why we provide a full range of legal services, including estate planning, probate and trust administration, business law, and more.
Contact us today at 414-253-8500 or by sending us a message to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. We serve clients in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California and we look forward to working with you to achieve your legal goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What Is a Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets into a trust. This type of trust can be changed or revoked at any time by the trust's creator. Despite transferring your assets into the trust, you maintain control over them, making adjustments as necessary, and upon your death, these assets are passed directly to your beneficiaries.
2. Why Would I Need a Revocable Living Trust?
The primary reason people create revocable living trusts is to avoid probate—a typically long and costly legal process that distributes a deceased individual's assets. Revocable living trusts bypass this process, providing a quicker, more private method of asset distribution. They also provide a means for managing assets during one's lifetime, and ensuring your wishes regarding asset distribution are carried out after death.
3. How Do I Create a Revocable Living Trust in Wisconsin?
Creating a revocable living trust involves identifying which assets to include in the trust, choosing a trustee, drafting the trust agreement, transferring ownership of the assets to the trust, and funding the trust. Once the trust is created, it's essential to periodically review and update the trust to ensure it reflects current wishes and circumstances.
4. Who Can Be a Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust?
The trustee can be the person who creates the trust, or someone else they appoint—a family member, friend, or a professional trustee. A trustee is responsible for managing the trust, including distributing assets to beneficiaries upon the trust creator's death.
5. Is a Revocable Living Trust Right for Everyone?
Not necessarily. While there are many benefits to having a revocable living trust, it might not be the best option for everyone. Each individual's situation is unique, and it's important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to assess your needs and determine the best course of action for you. Contact us today at 414-253-8500 or by sending us a message to schedule a free consultation.