In Arizona, if you own a home or other assets worth more than $75,000, the Revocable Living Trust is by far the preferred estate planning vehicle. At Phelps LaClair, we’re living trust lawyers in Mesa & Chandler, and we have been designing and implementing Living Trusts and Wills in Arizona for over 40 years. We know what works and doesn’t when the time comes.
What is the Difference Between a Revocable Living Trust and a Will?
To many, the revocable living trust looks a lot like a will because it includes the details and instructions for how you want your estate to be handled at your death, and it appoints a successor who will be in charge of your estate upon your death. But unlike a will, a properly funded trust provides the following benefits:
Flexibility and Control – As the “Trustor,” “Trustee” and the lifetime “Beneficiary” of your own trust, you retain full and complete control over all your assets during your lifetime. Upon your death, the assets in the trust are managed and distributed according to your desires written in the trust document. Each family has its own particular needs, and your trust should be designed and customized to meet those needs. The revocable living trust gives you control over the assets you leave to your minor children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries who you might not want to receive their inheritance right away (including special needs beneficiaries or financially irresponsible beneficiaries).
Avoidance of Probate – Assets titled in the name of the revocable living trust at the date of death are not subject to probate administration. This avoids thousands of dollars in executor fees and attorneys’ fees, not to mention a possible one or two-year delay for your family while the estate assets are tied up in probate.
Planning for Incapacity – If you become disabled or simply desire to be free of the worries of day-to-day asset management, the revocable living trust designates a “Successor Trustee” who can step in to manage your financial affairs without the necessity of going to court to have a conservator appointed (which is, again, a very costly, public and slow process).
Continuity of Asset Management Upon Death – Upon your death (or the death of the surviving spouse), the Successor Trustee automatically steps in and begins to manage the estate without the delay or “red tape” associated with probated estates.
Privacy – Revocable living trusts offer privacy as to who inherits the estate, when they receive it and how much they receive.
Unfortunately, many people have been led to believe that all Living Trusts are the same. But the truth is all Living Trusts are not created equal! Here are just a few examples why:
Did you know that most internet, do it yourself living trusts (diy trusts in Arizona), or bargain-priced attorney plans usually fail and end up in probate court because of failure to properly fund the Living Trust?
Most Living Trusts do not protect your loved ones’ inheritances from unexpected crises in their lives, such as divorces, lawsuits and creditors. (A Living Trust that merely avoids probate isn’t good enough anymore.) Click here to see how the right Living Trust can protect your beneficiaries.
Typical Living Trusts leave what might be your most valuable assets – your IRAs, 401(k)s and retirement plans – vulnerable to automatic taxation when you are gone! Click here to see how the IRA Inheritance Trust can protect your IRAs.
Our many years of experience in drafting Living Trusts and seeing them work in real life will help you avoid these costly mistakes.
A Living Trust Avoids Probate After You Die
A Revocable Living Trust is a Will substitute … and much more! Unlike a Will, which is subject to Arizona’s Probate Court after you die, a Living Trust is a private agreement that allows your loved ones to administer your estate privately around the kitchen table instead of in a courtroom. Because Living Trusts are not supervised by a probate court, your loved ones can carry out your wishes without the frustration of court costs, mandatory waiting periods, public notices to creditors and frivolous contests from disgruntled heirs.
How Much Does a Living Trust Cost in Arizona?
The exact cost of a revocable living trust depends on factors such as how complicated your estate is, how complex the terms of the trust are, and whether tax planning is needed. Moreover, in addition to your revocable living trust, we will also prepare other important estate planning documents including a Certificate of Trust, “Pour-Over” Wills, a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney and a Durable General Power of Attorney. All of our revocable living trust packages are done on a reasonable flat-fee basis that will be clearly communicated to you after a free consultation — so you will never receive a “surprise” bill from our office.
A Living Trust Avoids Conservatorship During Disability
Have you ever considered who will manage your affairs if you are disabled? Who will sign checks, pay your bills, run your business, etc.? Without planning in advance, your loved ones will likely have to go to court, prove you are incompetent and then ask the court to appoint a conservator to manage your finances; and oftentimes this is true even if you have executed a power of attorney.
There is a better way. When you create a Living Trust, you hand-select a Successor Trustee to act for you not just when you die, but also when you are disabled. Your Successor Trustee will be able to handle trust administration tasks such as accessing your money and other assets for your care almost immediately if you become disabled.
You can learn more about creating a Living Trust in Arizona here.