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Phoenix estate planning attorneys discuss revocable trusts

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is an estate planning tool that allows you to distribute your assets after death or incapacitation. A revocable trust allows you to transfer legal ownership of your assets into a trust during your lifetime. After your death, the assets in the trust may be transferred to the people you named as beneficiaries. As the name suggests, revocable trusts can be changed or cancelled at any time during your lifetime. There are many important considerations that you and your Phoenix estate planning attorney must take into account when preparing a revocable trust.

Appointing Trustees

Most often the creator of the trust is the initial trustee, but you will have to name a successor trustee to take over after your death or incapacity. Generally, the role of the successor trustee after your death is very similar to the role of the executor of a will. Common duties include: 1) inventory assets, 2) pay final bills, 3) prepare taxes, and 4) distribute assets to beneficiaries. If the trust is to stay up and running after your death, the successor trustee’s duties would generally include: 1) managing the assets in the trust, 2) prudently investing trust assets, and 3) distributing assets to beneficiaries as dictated by the terms of the trust.

A successor trustee could be your spouse, adult child, trusted friend, or a professional trustee. A trustee does not need to carry out their duties without guidance. A trustee can work with your attorney, CPA, or other advisor to carry out their duties. The trustee will wield a lot of power and ensure that your interests are being carried out, so it is important to choose someone you trust and make this decision carefully.

Choosing Beneficiaries

As with a will, you must decide who you will leave your property to when preparing a revocable trust in Phoenix, Arizona. When you are making this decision be sure to consider all the options that revocable trusts allow. A revocable trust offers choices that a will does not permit.

For example, a revocable trusts allow you to designate when your beneficiaries can access the trust funds and can limit what your beneficiaries can spend funds on. If you have minor children, you can instruct the trustee to provide income to the children until they reach adulthood, at which point they can access the trust assets in full.  Additionally, you can provide that beneficiaries may only spend trust assets on certain expenses, such as education, buying a house, or starting a business. You can also designate what trust assets cannot be spend on, such as gambling.

You also have the option of creating something referred to as an incentive trust, which puts a condition on the revocable trust that must be completed before the beneficiary can access the trust assets. Popular conditions require the beneficiary to maintain steady employment, get a college education, or seek substance abuse treatment before they are able to receive property.

What Property to Include

In order to fund your trust, you must transfer assets from yourself to your trust. Your trust will only control assets that you put into it. Generally, assets that you will want to put into your trust include real estate, bank/saving accounts, investments, business interests, and notes payable to you. There are certain assets that may not make sense to include in the revocable trust, like 401(k)s and IRAs. An experienced Phoenix, AZ estate planning attorney can help you determine which assets make sense to include and help walk you through the process of funding the trust. Transferring ownership of your assets to the trust is not difficult, but can be very time consuming and involve a lot of paperwork.

Don’t Do It Alone

If you are considering creating a revocable trust, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who understands Arizona’s unique laws and regulations. Nicole Pavlik has successfully helped many residents of Phoenix, Arizona navigate the estate planning process and is ready to offer you the advice you need. Call the Phoenix estate planning attorneys at the Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today by dialing 602-635-6176 to schedule a free consultation.

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