Probate and Trust Administration
The probate process, which does serve a valid function, can be quite costly and time-consuming. Costs involved in probating an estate include the personal representative’s (executor’s) fee, attorney’s fees, and court costs. When assets have been properly transferred to a revocable living trust, probate is avoided at death as the successor trustee or trustees, in effect, replace the probate court regarding the disposition of the deceased’s property. Use of a living trust provides for continuity in the management of the deceased’s assets and avoids probate in all states in which he or she may have owned assets. In addition, avoiding probate by use of the revocable living trust helps retain a large degree of privacy for the deceased and his or her family as property in a living trust is not a matter of public record.
Living Probate (Disability Protection)
This type of probate is encountered by someone who is alive but has a disability which affects one’s ability to manage one’s own financial matters. Someone must prove to the court’s satisfaction that the person is legally incompetent. Thereafter, a conservator is appointed by the court for the incompetent person. The conservator is required to handle all financial affairs of the person and must make frequent and detailed reports to the court. Additionally, a conservator may have to post a bond with the court. Establishing a living trust avoids the need for having a court-appointed conservator. The trustees of the trust, in effect, serve as conservator as they are the legal owners of the assets that comprise the trust. If you were the initial trustee of your trust, the successor trustee(s) would become responsible for the management of the assets in your trust. By establishing a living trust you, rather than the court, choose who will manage your financial affairs.