A living trust is a document by which the owner of an asset transfers ownership of that asset to a trustee. The alleged benefit of the trust is to remove that asset from one’s probateable estate by relinquishing ownership. According to the marketers of these trusts, removing assets from one’s probatable estate will result in significant tax savings and will avoid the probate process.
However, a living trust is very costly and in most cases not necessary. Avoiding probate is not always a guarantee. Even if there is just one titled asset, such as a vehicle, left out of the trust probate will still be necessary.
Also, a vast majority of estates are not subject to any federal or estate taxes. Generally, the probate process is very easy. There is only a ten day waiting period from the date of death before a will can be probated. Once that time has passed, the process can begin and be completed within a few days if the will is properly executed and no one is contesting the probate.
Senior citizens especially are cautioned to be aware of solicitation for living trusts.