Living Trusts

Estate Planning

Living Trusts Attorney in Belleville, Illinois

Many people choose to set up living trusts as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Living trusts allow individuals and families to manage and pass on wealth efficiently, without going through probate. An estate planning lawyer can help you understand your legal options and establish a living trust tailored to your needs and goals. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for an initial consultation to talk to our living trust lawyers about whether a living trust can help you protect and manage your or your family’s assets.

Why Choose the Legal Team at Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, to Help You Prepare a Living Trust?

For years, clients have turned to the estate planning attorneys of Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for help establishing and managing living trusts because:

  • We have a reputation for achieving successful outcomes in our clients’ legal matters. Our firm has received an AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell peer review program, the program’s highest rating.
  • Many clients show their trust in us by referring their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and successive generations of family members to our firm.
  • Our attorneys strive to offer personal attention and responsive communication. You can expect to have a direct connection with your attorney, who will promptly return your calls and take the time to help you understand your legal options.

Understanding Living Trusts

A living trust, also called an inter vivos trust, refers to a trust that goes into effect during the trust maker’s lifetime. People typically set up living trusts to manage and protect their property during their lifetime and pass that property on to family members without needing to go through the probate process. In most cases, people will use a revocable trust for their living trust. A revocable trust allows the trust maker to retain control over the trust and its assets. A trust maker can amend or revoke a revocable trust at any time. Conversely, with an irrevocable trust, the trust maker permanently relinquishes ownership and control of the assets but receives tax and other financial benefits in return.

Living trusts give people an alternative means of passing on inheritances. Living trusts differ from wills in several vital ways. With a will, a person’s assets remain in their estate, whereas a living trust takes legal ownership of the person’s assets. When the trust maker passes away, a living trust’s trustee will distribute assets to any beneficiaries named in the trust document. Conversely, when a person distributes assets after their death via a will, their personal representative must present the will to the court for probate, which can become time-consuming and expensive depending on the size of a person’s estate. However, someone who creates a living trust may still write a will to designate a guardian for their minor children and account for property they have not placed in the trust.

Individuals and families may use particular types of living trusts during estate planning, such as a special or supplemental needs trust that can manage assets for a family member with special needs or a severe permanent disability.

Benefits of Establishing a Living Trust

Setting up an estate plan with a living trust can offer you and your family a number of benefits. The primary benefit of a living trust involves enabling you to distribute inheritances to loved ones after your death without the time and expense of probate. Depending on the complexity of your estate, probate can become an expensive process for your family. If you own assets in multiple states (such as real estate), putting those assets in a living trust will allow you to pass those assets on after your death without needing to open probate proceedings in multiple states.

A living trust can also afford your family privacy for financial affairs. During probate, the administrator or executor of your estate must file an inventory of your estate with the court, which becomes part of the public record of the estate administration. Because a living trust manages assets outside the probate process, you can keep the extent of your assets and wealth private.

The Process of Establishing a Living Trust

Establishing a living trust involves several steps, including:

  • Deciding whether to establish an individual or a shared trust with your spouse depends on whether you want to put co-owned property in the trust.
  • Deciding what property you want to place in the trust.
  • Appointing a trustee; if you appoint yourself as trustee, you must name a successor trustee who can manage or distribute the trust’s assets after your death.
  • Naming beneficiaries who will receive the trust’s assets after your death.
  • Drafting the trust document and signing the document before a notary.
  • Transferring title for any titled property in the trust, such as real estate or vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living Trusts

Here are the answers to some of the questions that clients in Belleville, Illinois, most frequently ask us about living trusts.

What assets can I include in a living trust?

A living trust can hold various types of property. People frequently use living trusts to manage assets such as:

  • Bank accounts, including checking, savings, or money market accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Stocks, bonds, and other securities
  • Real estate
  • Tangible personal property, including jewelry or antiques
  • Death benefits from life insurance policies
  • Business ownership interests, such as LLC membership interests
  • Cryptocurrency

However, you may not want to transfer some assets to a living trust, such as retirement or health savings accounts, as doing so may cause you to lose the tax benefits of those assets.

What tax benefits do living trusts provide?

Since people often use revocable trusts for their living trusts, they typically provide minimal tax benefits since the trust maker usually must pay taxes on any income generated by the property in the trust, and the assets get counted as part of the trust maker’s estate for estate tax purposes. However, assets in a living trust avoid probate, which can minimize legal fees and costs to distribute those assets to heirs and beneficiaries after the trust maker’s death.

Can I use a living trust to protect against future incapacity?

You can use a living trust to manage your property or estate if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your financial affairs. If you become incapacitated, the trustee or successor trustee you appointed can continue to manage the assets in your trust and distribute them after your death according to the trust’s terms. A living trust can eliminate the need for a power of attorney or for your family members to go to court to establish guardianship or conservatorship to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.

Can I change a living trust?

If you set up your living trust as a revocable trust, you typically retain the right to amend the trust document or to revoke or close the trust. For example, you can amend your living trust to change the people who will inherit from the trust after your death.

Contact the Trust Lawyers of Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, to Discuss Setting Up a Living Trust

A living trust may help you achieve your estate planning goals. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, today for a confidential consultation with an estate planning lawyer to discuss the suitability of a living trust for your needs and get help setting one up.