Although some probate is almost inevitable since a court must generally approve the will for it to take legal effect, a trust can considerably streamline the process, simply because when the decedent dies, the property passes through the trust, which is not subject to a will, as opposed to the decedent’s personal estate.

People wanting to set up trusts in Washington have many available options, and each one has considerable pros and cons. A few of the most popular kinds of trusts are listed below.

Living Trusts

These estate planning vehicles are usually the easiest ones to set up, simply because the trust does not take effect until the settlor (person who makes a trust) passes away. Testamentary trusts are also very flexible:

  • A settlor can name literally anyone as a trustee (person who manages the trust for the beneficiary),
  • The trust can designate any termination date, such as a fixed time or the occurrence of a given event (e.g. graduation from college),
  • The settlor can amend the trust at any time,
  • The trust can also designate the manner of distribution, such as monthly or quarterly disbursements.

One of the biggest drawbacks of testamentary trusts is that they cannot take effect upon disability or incapacity, so most people execute powers of attorney simultaneously with testamentary trusts.

Inter Vivos Trusts

In contrast, living trusts take effect while the settlor is still alive, which offers even greater flexibility. Moreover, the settlor and trustee is often the same person, so in a practical sense, the settlor keeps control over the corpus (property in the trust) and only legal title changes.

Revocable trusts may be altered or amended at any time, while irrevocable trusts cannot be changed except in a few limited circumstances, such as the sale of trust assets or the designation of a trust protector. The trade off to the added flexibility is that irrevocable trusts usually have better tax advantages.

There are a couple of subsets, such as discretionary trusts which give the trustee more control over the corpus and trust mechanics, and incentive trusts that usually have conditional disbursements.

Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney

A testamentary or inter vivos trust is an important component of a complete estate plan. For a confidential consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Kent, contact the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg PLLC. After hours visits are available.