Q: How Will My Living Trust Avoid Probate?

A: "Probate" includes the process by which the court supervises the distribution of your estate after your death. Whether or not you have a Will, probate is normally necessary. A Revocable Living Trust is designed so as to not require court supervised probate. In the Trust you designate a trustee to succeed you after your death. This successor trustee is responsible for transferring the assets in your Trust to your loved ones as stated in your Revocable Living Trust Declaration and the "Trust Minutes" included with your Trust.

Q: Who Can Be a Trustee?

A: During their lifetimes, persons with Living Trusts normally act as their own trustees. However, there is the option to select a professional trustee, such as a bank or Trust company, to manage the assets in your Trust. For example, an individual with a large estate who does not want the headaches of managing certain assets can select a professional trustee to manage those assets. Professional trustees will normally charge a fee for their services.

More important, the trustees who handle your affairs after your death need clear direction from you so as to enable them to distribute your estate correctly. In your Trust document great care has been taken to ensure that not only do your trustees have the authority to distribute your estate, but also that your estate is protected against anyone who may wish to alter your intentions.

Q: Who Are Settlors, Trustees, Successor Trustees and Beneficiaries?

A: By creating your Living Trust, you are the "Settlor" of the Trust. As stated above, you may also be the "Trustee" of your own estate during your lifetime. Likewise, during your lifetime you are also the "Beneficiary." You will designate in the Trust who will act for you after your death the person or entity designated is the "Successor Trustee." Similarly, after your death, those designated in the Trust to receive distributions from the Trust become the successor "Beneficiaries."