Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Why would I want to include a revocable trust in my estate plan?

People executing an estate plan have a lot of options to consider. One estate planning tool that many people in Virginia find useful is a revocable trust. A person (known as the grantor) can execute a revocable trust but, as the name implies, retains the ability to change the provisions of the trust during their lifetime if they wish. The grantor's assets will be placed in the trust during his or her lifetime. Then, when the grantor passes away, the trust becomes irrevocable and assets are distributed to the grantor's heirs per the terms of the trust.

One advantage of a revocable trust is that it bypasses the probate process. Probate is the public process wherein the state will gather the deceased individual's assets, pay creditors and distribute the remaining estate to the heirs. It can be costly both in time and money. A revocable trust not only bypasses probate and thus is not made public, but it gives the grantor ultimate control over who is to inherit what and when -- something a probated estate cannot guarantee.

For example, a grantor could divide a revocable trust into separate trusts, one for each of his or her heirs. The grantor is not obligated to divide his or her estate evenly among his or her heirs. A grantor can choose to have an heir inherit all at once, or he or she can choose to have an heir inherit at regular intervals or at the completion of certain events. Charitable giving is also possible through a revocable trust.

This is only a brief overview of the many advantages of a revocable trust. Of course, no two people's situation is the same, so it is important to carefully consider what you want your estate plan to look like. Revocable trusts are an option for some, but others may choose other vehicles for distributing their estate. Moreover, a comprehensive estate plan includes more than just a revocable trust. Therefore, those who are considering estate planning may want to learn more about their trust options and what other documents to include in their estate plan.

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