Like wills, revocable trusts—also known as living trusts—are estate planning options you can use to distribute assets to beneficiaries. However, in Virginia, revocable trusts offer a number of benefits that wills don't. Thus, in some cases, setting up a living trust may be a better way for Virginians to transfer assets to beneficiaries after their death. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Trusts aren't subject to the probate process. Probate is the legal process the Commonwealth of Virginia uses to transfer assets to beneficiaries named in a will. Lengthy and expensive, this process can delay your beneficiaries' receipt of assets.
- Trusts can help families retain their privacy. The probate process is public record, which can subject your family's assets to prying eyes and fraudulent claims, whereas the administration of a trust is private.
- Trusts can include restrictions, directives, and incentives that traditional wills can't. The creator of the trust can serve as a trustee and beneficiary during his lifetime and can also specify mechanisms for the management and distribution of his assets.
- Trusts can protect inheritance from creditors. If one of your beneficiaries has an inheritance that is subject to seizure by creditors, setting up a trust can keep your assets out of his name and just out of a creditor's reach. As a beneficiary or trustee of the trust, he can access his inheritance without risk of losing it.
- Trusts can help disabled beneficiaries retain government benefits. Leaving assets to a disabled beneficiary in a will can put his government benefits, such as Medicaid or Social Security, at risk. Unless the inheritance in question is sufficient to replace such benefits, it's best to place those assets in a trust.
- Trusts allow minor beneficiaries to receive assets without court oversight. When assets are left to minors in a will, the administration of those assets is monitored through a conservatorship, which requires annual reports to the court. A trust allows assets to be administered to minor beneficiaries according to your wishes.
Consult an Experienced Virginia Estate Planning Lawyer
Do you have questions about a will, living trust, or other estate planning options? A skilled estate planning attorney at Quest Law can help you understand your rights. Call us today to request an appointment for a free initial consultation.