Berman & Asbel, LLP

When to use a revocable trust in Pennsylvania

There are many estate planning options for those who want to protect both their privacy and their assets after passing on. Creating a revocable living trust provides the protection of a trust with the flexibility of a will. The revocable trust can be changed at any time and provides the peace of mind of knowing that a public probate session is not needed.

Why would someone want to avoid probate? If there is a controversial clause in a will such as a child being disinherited, that could create a stir among the family. Details from a will could be used as social media fodder after they have been made public. However, financial advisers say that those with few assets who may not want to go through the expense of creating a living trust may be able to have an effective estate plan by granting someone a power of attorney, creating a will and signing a health care directive.

The best reason to get a revocable trust is that an individual can control his or her assets while they are in the trust. While they don't have the same creditor protection as a irrevocable trust, there is no need to cede control of a house, car or cash in a retirement account to a trustee who may or may not manage those assets properly.

It may be beneficial to begin the estate planning process as early as possible. Putting assets into a trust or putting insurance and financial documents into one place may make it easier to settle an estate quickly and ensure that heirs get their inheritance without a lot of public drama. To make the process easier, it may be worthwhile to contact an estate planning attorney who may be able to suggest what documents will be sufficient.

Source: NBR, "A matter of trusts: Benefactors, heirs and their advisors", Maureen Nevin, August 04, 2014

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