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Understanding How to Use a Living Trust to Avoid Probate

Older man with grandchildren. Using a living trust to avoid probate.

If you want to avoid probate, setting up a living trust can be an effective way to give your assets and property to your beneficiaries quickly and easily. In this guide, we’ll explain what a living trust is and how to use a living trust to avoid probate.

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is an arrangement created during a person’s lifetime that holds property or other assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The trust is managed by a trustee, which can be an individual, institution, or both. The trust holds title to the assets and can either distribute them outright or hold and manage them for the benefit of the beneficiary.

Why Create a Living Trust?

One of the primary reasons why many people choose to create a living trust is to avoid the probate court process. Probate is the official process by which a deceased person’s will is authenticated, creditors are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Probate can be expensive, public, and time-consuming. By setting up a living trust, you can help ensure that your assets will be managed and distributed according to your wishes without having to go through probate.

What are the Benefits of Creating a Living Trust?

Creating a living trust offers numerous benefits, including avoiding the expensive and time-consuming process of probate. By setting up a living trust, you can also keep your estate plans private. In comparison, any documents that are filed in probate court are available for public inspection. Additionally, with a living trust, you have greater control over how your assets are distributed after your death. Finally, it’s much easier to make changes to or revoke a living trust than a will if circumstances change or you wish to make adjustments.

Who Can Create a Living Trust?

Anyone who is legally able to make a will can create a living trust. Generally, this includes individuals over the age of 18 and of sound mind. However, certain states may have different requirements. It is important to consult an estate planning attorney when setting up a living trust to ensure it meets the laws and requirements of your state.

How to Set up and Fund a Living Trust to Avoid Probate.

Funding your trust is crucial. If assets are left outside your trust when you die, those likely need to go through the probate process. Make sure you know what goes to the trust and what stays out. Your attorney can help you decide what to do. For example, if you own a house as your personal residence, you should probably transfer that house to your living trust to avoid probate. Your personal checking account should also probably get transferred to you as trustee of your trust.

Keep in mind that not everything should go to your trust. There are some assets that should not get transferred to your trust. You can read more about that on our blog “What Assets Cannot Be Placed In A Trust?

Are You Ready to Get Your Own Living Trust To Avoid Probate?

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been helping people just like you create living trusts to avoid probate since 2001. He is rated Pre-Eminent (AV-rated) with Martindale-Hubbell, the oldest attorney rating system in the U.S. Our team will help you create a customized estate planning package that makes sense for you and your loved ones. Give us a call at 602-443-4888 today.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.