Shields & Boris

Understanding Revocable Living Trusts

Many of our clients come into our elder law Pittsburgh office confused and intimidated by the estate planning process due to the differing opinions among lawyers and even financial advisors regarding the various nuances of estate planning – especially in regards to revocable trusts. Many lawyers will advise you that revocable trusts are unnecessary gimmicks, not a valuable estate planning tool and will not even discuss it as an option. This is a great disservice to many clients and can have a detrimental financial impact to their estate and to their family members.

But in truth, a revocable living trust can save time, save money and avoid probate.

Frequently, attorneys will not recommend revocable trusts because their vested interest is in the expensive fees associated with probating estates. At Shields and Boris, our only vested interest is in protecting your family’s legacy. Revocable trusts are not the right choice for everyone but we believe in empowering our clients to make informed decisions about their family.

One of the main things we hear from our clients is that they feel more confused after consulting with an attorney than they were before. We are not interested in writing or speaking in obscure legalese to prove how smart we are.  We don’t want you to feel like you need to become a legal expert to fully understand all of your options. We simply want to help you.

So, if you are confused about whether or not a revocable trust is the right decision for you then keep reading.

A revocable living trust is simply an estate planning tool like any other. One common reason why revocable trusts are considered to be gimmicks is the misconception that a will is the only estate planning tool necessary. Wills are only give you control over your estate after you have passed on. A will does nothing to help you if you are alive but incapacitated. Frequently, when a person is no longer able to advocate for themselves due to a disability, the courts get involved and decisions are based on what other people think is best, not what that person thought was best for themselves and their family.  A revocable living trust gives you control over your estate in the event of your incapacitation. So, think of a trust as a document that can speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

This shines light on another benefit of a living trust – by avoiding any court proceedings you will be keeping your family matters as private as possible.

Do not be concerned that by having a trust you will lose control of your assets. You will maintain complete control over all of your assets as long as you are alive and able. You can still bank, invest and pay taxes like you always have. You can also change or revoke your trust at any time, until your death.

A trust allows you to manage your assets until you want them distributed. For instance, if you do not want your grandchildren to receive their inheritance until they are 25, rather than the typical 18, you can do so through a living trust. Not only that, a trust can protect any special needs beneficiaries you may have.

At first glance, a trust package may appear more expensive than a will package, but when compared to attorneys fees and court costs associated with probate, a trust package is a more cost effective option in the long run. Additionally, while a revocable living trust cannot help reduce Pennsylvania income or inheritance taxes, it can reduce federal estate taxes.

Revocable trusts are especially valuable for people with multiple properties in multiple states. You may live in Pennsylvania, but perhaps you have a second home, timeshare or condominium in another state. Imagine the expense and hassle associated with having separate attorney and probate fees for each state in which you hold real estate! A revocable living trust eliminates this need and you can have one attorney handle your living trust in Pennsylvania.

Plus, it puts all of your assets under one plan, making estate management much easier.

We hope this blog has clarified and eased some of your concerns regarding revocable trusts. To further discuss whether or not a revocable trust should be part of your estate plans please contact us.