Living trusts are a type of trust that holds your estate and its assets while still allowing you to maintain control and authority over your finances and estate while you are alive. Upon passing, the living trust will help your loved ones avoid the costs, delays, and headaches that come with probate. This is not like wills, which often have to be probated before their terms can be carried out. As such, living trusts are a powerful estate planning tool because they can provide flexibility and privacy when making estate decisions.
If you have a will and you are considering a living trust, no problem! If you also would like to have both a will and a living trust, you may also do so with the help of an attorney.
In North Carolina, the Raleigh estate planning and trusts attorneys at Wilson Ratledge can help. You can choose to have a living trust created automatically when you create your will or you can create a living trust after the fact.
How a Living Trust Works in North Carolina
The basic idea behind a living trust is that you create a legal document that sets up a special kind of estate plan. In North Carolina, living trusts are only valid if they are created in accordance with state law. As such, there are, however, a few important things to keep in mind if you want to create or use a living trust in North Carolina. Here’s how a living trust works in North Carolina:
1. Determine what assets you want to protect: First and foremost, you want to make sure that the assets you wish to protect are specifically listed in your living trust. This will help avoid any potential future issues since those assets will automatically go through your living trust instead of through the courts.
2. Decide who will be your successor trustee: The successor trustee for a living trust is typically the person who has the legal authority to manage the trust assets and make decisions on behalf of beneficiaries after the living trust creator dies or becomes incapacitated. To choose the right trustee, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, including the person’s experience and qualifications. It’s important to select someone you trust and feel comfortable working with. You may want to choose someone who is well-educated and on the same page as you.
3. Create your trust deed: A trust deed is a document that sets forth the terms and conditions under which property will be transferred or managed during the lifetime of the trust. It should be created as soon as possible after creating the trust, as it will need to be updated as the trust changes over time. The trust deed should include information such as who will have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the trust, the property that will be managed by the trust, and when and how distributions will be made.
Additional Tips for Creating a Living Trust in North Carolina
You should note that it is important to have an attorney draft the living trust terms and document. Signing the document in the presence of a notary public is also often recommended. For easier reference, we have outlined the key points to keep in mind when creating your living trust:
1. Choose a skilled lawyer or law firm to help you create your living trust.
2. Make sure all parties involved, including yourself, understand the terms of the living trust before signing it.
3. Keep all relevant documents in a safe place.
4. Update your living trust as needed, either through a lawyer or by revising codicils approved by both yourself and your spouse or other beneficiaries named in the trust agreement. This revision also has to be notarized.
Benefits of Living Trusts
Benefits of Living Trusts in North Carolina include:
1. A living trust can protect your assets and provide for your family’s future.
2. A living trust can ease the burden of estate planning since it can avoid probate.
3. A living trust can help you keep control of your finances and estate planning decisions.
4. A living trust is an easy way to create a special legacy for yourself or your loved ones.
Is a Living Trust Right for You?
Given its many benefits, and given that a living trust can be created by virtually anyone, regardless of their occupation or amount of wealth, a living trust is most likely right for you. They are simple to create and can be amended as needed.
If you are considering creating or revising a living trust, it is important to speak with a North Carolina estate planning attorney at Wilson Ratledge. We can provide you with advice on how best to use this powerful legal tool.