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Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: A Trust Attorney’s Perspective

Written by Eric · 3 min read >
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts

As ideal as it is to have professional trust attorneys handle your trusts to ensure they get done correctly, comprehending what the trusts are and the differences between them can be beneficial for your knowledge. This understanding can help you with many phases of the estate planning process, from determining who you want the trustees and beneficiaries to be to the type of trust(s) you want. Let’s discuss some of the differences between revocable vs. irrevocable trusts, the two principal types about which you need to know. 

The purpose

The primary purposes of both the revocable and irrevocable trusts are to determine what happens to your assets and who will be primarily in charge of handling the matters, such as the distribution. These are, undoubtedly, meaningful decisions that you should not make lightly or while under duress, one of the many reasons it is essential to have a detailed discussion about the process with your trust attorney at Hays Firm. Many people work hard throughout their lives and understandably want to know that everything they have cultivated will make a difference to everyone involved in the trust. 

One of the most significant decisions you, as the grantor, will need to make about your estate plan is when you want the trust to have its primary impact. A revocable trust goes into effect while you are living, while an irrevocable trust kicks in after your passing. 

With an irrevocable trust, you name the beneficiaries, which are who will be the recipients of your assets after your passing, and a trustee, the person who has management privileges over the trust. As reported by Hays Firm, the trustee can also be a beneficiary, although there are possible complications and challenges involved. For example, it is vital to ensure the trustee does not act – at any time in any way – solely in their best interests. Instead, they should act in the best interest of the trust, your wishes, and the other beneficiaries (if there are any).

A revocable trust also involves choosing a trustee, but it may either be you as the grantor or another person. You can select yourself as a beneficiary and/or other beneficiaries to start benefiting from the trust while you are alive. It is advantageous to pick someone else (another trustee) to manage the revocable trust if/when you cannot, such as if a severe medical issue impacts you. 

Probate

Revocable and irrevocable trusts forgo the probate process, a massive benefit for anyone involved, considering how long the process can take and the amount of money. 

Taxes and asset protection

According to Hays Firm, one of the reasons many appreciate irrevocable trusts is the protection they offer them and their assets. If a grantor with a revocable trust gets sued or creditors go after payments to satisfy bills in your name, the revocable trust is fair game. Since an irrevocable trust owns the assets it contains and has its tax identification number (TIN), those assets are usually off-limits to creditors and plaintiffs. 

Regarding taxes, you will be responsible for them concerning a revocable trust. Irrevocable trusts typically have multiple tax benefits since the assets within the trust are no longer technically part of your estate. Your trust attorney can supply you with tax details on your respective estate in your state. 

Length

A revocable trust has the potential to last as long as you are walking this earth, and you can rescind it at any point. Therefore, you can have the revocable trust from when you set it up until your passing. At this point, it becomes irrevocable. 

An irrevocable trust typically gets dispersed to the beneficiaries after your passing within the first year. However, it has the potential to stay open for 21 years after it goes into effect after the grantor has passed.

Changes to the terms

Revocable trusts can be changed as you see fit as long as you are believed mentally capable. The power to make changes throughout its existence is one of the perks of having this type of trust.  Irrevocable trusts typically do not make any changes, but it is not that finite. It is possible to make modifications, but it has to go through a process to have the chance of getting changed, and it may involve going to court. If the time should come when you want to make changes to a revocable or irrevocable trust, your trust attorney can furnish more specifics regarding the terms of your particular trust.

Trusts are complex and need to have perfect legal terminology, two of the main reasons it is beneficial for a trust attorney to do them for you. They can inspect them, ensure everything reads how you and your attorney want it to, and decrease the chances of potential issues moving forward, especially amongst beneficiaries. Contact your trust attorney if you have any questions about revocable or irrevocable trusts and which one is best for your situation and estate.

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