While it's commendable to have a will in place, you might want to also consider taking it one step further and creating a revocable trust. You can use this type of trust in much the same way that you can a will, but it does carry some advantages over a will. A comprehensive estate plan is made of several components, so read on to learn about the role of the trustee and about revocable trusts.
The Owner of the Revocable Trust
A revocable trust, as its name might suggest, is a fairly flexible instrument. While it is always possible to make changes to a will — and, in fact, a will should be updated every few years or so — it cannot come close to the flexibility that a revocable trust offers. While the trust's owner or creator is still living, that person has the ability to make unlimited changes and adjustments in the trust. Property can be added or removed, beneficiaries can be changed, and the trust can be completely suspended or done away with entirely. Once the owner passes away, however, the trust will stand as written at the time of death and no more changes can be made.
The Administrator of the Revocable Trust
Just like a will, someone will need to be appointed to handle the revocable trust after the owner either dies or becomes incapacitated. This person must be appointed by the owner while they are living; a trustee cannot be added or changed after the trust owner's death. When it comes to wills, a personal representative or an executor may be appointed by the will, but the probate courts also have the right to name personal representatives.
The Duties of the Trustee
While the last will and testament are as much concerned with paying the debts of the estate as with designating property and beneficiaries, a revocable trust is strictly about property. The trustee is solely tasked with ensuring that the people named in the trust get the property assigned to them. When it comes to these types of trusts, property distribution can be somewhat more complicated than that of a will. That is due to a unique provision allowing the property distribution to occur given certain circumstances or at a certain time. These same provisions in a will could cause untold problems and could face challenges in court. For example, the owner of the trust may decree that a certain grandchild only be given a sum of money upon graduation from college. It can even be a certain college and with a certain degree of study.
To learn more about this unique and useful estate management tool, speak to an estate planning attorney near you.