Estate planning may benefit greatly from living trust option

The discussion of whether to use a living trust or a last will and testament, or to use both, is a topic often encountered in the office of an estate attorney. Since these legal instruments are merely tools to achieve the desired goals, the answer may vary from case to case. There are some estate planning benefits to using a living trust along with the other estate planning tools for estates in Minnesota and other jurisdictions.

The living trust can have great value in allowing a donor to set up his assets in a legal container during life. This can in some cases serve to avoid the sometimes painstaking process of probate after death. Because probate of a standard or complex will can take over a year to process fully, and because there may be expensive bumps along the way for estates with complications, many clients prefer to set up the living trust and get a practical and beneficial head start on the process.

The administration of assets during life can sometimes also result in good business decisions that will preserve one’s assets far better than the probate alternative. Whenever the whole estate can be set up in advance through the living trust vehicle, it will save the personal representative, who is often a close loved one, from contending with the tedious paper work of the probate estate. Another issue often arises as to whether it would be prudent to put one’s home in  a living trust.

The answer is that if the decision is made to set up a living trust in Minnesota or elsewhere, then one of the first assets for funding the trust will be the real estate. In addition, one may put extra real estate, like vacation homes in other states, into one’s living trust. This generally has the substantial advantage of avoiding probate of separate assets in each outside state. Critically, it may be possible to save one’s real estate for one’s beneficiaries rather than see it dissolved into state coffers should nursing home care become necessary. However, that can only be determined after a detailed consultation with one’s estate planning attorney.

Source:, “Why Should I Put My Home in a Living Trust?“, Oct. 5, 2016

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