End-of-life planning is not something anyone wants to think about. It can be painful or scary to think about life after your death. What will happen to your family? Who will raise your children? How will your assets be divided?
Unfortunately, without a solid estate plan, the Texas courts will determine the answers to those questions. Your loved one and your estate will fall to the courts to make the ultimate decision over who gets your property and who raises your children.
For this reason alone, it is important to speak to an experienced Houston estate planning attorney today. Even if you are young and healthy, you need to consider protecting what you value most in this world. An estate planning attorney can help you do that.
When you begin drafting an estate plan, you may wonder if you need a living trust. This is a common question and one that we can help answer.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is an arrangement that establishes a trustee to hold title over the property and keep it for the use of beneficiaries. This is created while you are still alive and takes effect immediately. It is also something that can be changed or revoked while you are alive at any time.
Most people serve as their own trustee while they are still able to. Once they no longer wish to serve as trustee or become unable, they can elect to have a successor trustee take over those duties.
The advantages of establishing a living trust make it one of the most valuable estate planning tools available. Even if you do not own numerous assets, a living trust can be beneficial and something to consider.
Benefits of a Living Trust
One of the main benefits of a revocable living trust is that it provides you the power of the “hand from the grave.” If you intend to leave your property with family or friends who may not yet be capable of receiving a large lump-sum distribution of property, then you can have your trustee direct how the assets are to be disbursed. For example, if you have a child in college, you can direct that the funds are only to be used for reasonable education and living expenses until your child reaches a certain age.
Protection from Court Challenges
Living trusts can protect your estate from entering into heated and nasty court challenges. Unlike wills, living trusts are even harder to challenge in court and successful attacks are rare. This is because living trusts take management after they are drafted. This continuous management proves that you were of “sound mind and body” and competent enough to determine what was best for your estate.
If you become incapable of managing your own affairs, either due to physical or mental illness, a living trust can prevent a conservatorship. Your trust will authorize a successor trustee to manage your property and your estate should you become incapacitated. Without a living trust, family members must go to court to obtain the legal authority to manage your finances. This can be a painful process that is best avoided. A living trust can help avoid such court dramas and allows your trustee to take over easily.
Living trusts are not a matter of public record, unlike wills. This means that your estate and your family affairs are kept private and away from prying public scrutiny. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with large estates or who lived in the public eye. It can also be beneficial for those with underlying family tensions or issues that they wish to avoid exposing in a courtroom battle or during probate.
A living trust is surprisingly affordable to establish and maintain. Investment gains and tax savings also add to its affordability, and you should speak with an accountant or tax professional to discuss how it could benefit you. In addition, by keeping your estate and loved ones out of probate, your estate saves even more money. This alone reduces the estate settlement costs considerably.
Call Our Houston Estate Planning Attorneys Immediately
At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., our Houston estate planning attorneys can help determine if you need a living trust. We know that this is a complex topic and a difficult conversation to have. That is why we strive to offer compassionate, legal guidance to all our clients. We can help you understand the benefits of a living trust, so you can choose the estate plan that is best for you. We know how to tackle and navigate complex estate planning law issues in Texas, and we fight aggressively for our clients every step of the way. Call us today at 713-981-0600 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are here to help!