Frequently Asked Questions

What does revocable mean?

“Revocable” means that the trust can be revoked or amended during your lifetime. This allows for flexibility in managing your trust assets.

How does a trust avoid probate?

When the person who has set up a revocable trust dies, the trust itself lives on. If the person who has set up the revocable trust has transferred his or her assets into the trust, then the successor trustee at the person’s death will carry out the instructions contained in the trust without going to court (i.e. without going to probate).

Doesn’t a power of attorney avoid probate?

No. In most states, a power of attorney is automatically revoked at death. some states allow a durable power of attorney, which remains valid if you become disabled, but it too is automatically revoked at your death.

Do I lose control of the property I put into my trust?

No. You keep full control over your property. As trustee of your living trust, you can do everything you could do before: buy and sell property, make changes, even revoke your trust at any time. Nothing changes but the names on the titles. You even file the same income tax returns.

Is it hard to transfer property into my living trust?

No. For example, in California,you use a “quitclaim deed” to transfer your real estate into your trust. In most states this will not trigger a property tax reassessment of your property. You will receive written instructions that will help you transfer titles of your real estate and that will help you make sure everything is done properly. Your financial or accounting advisors can also help you change title on other assets.

If I own a partial interest in real property with others, can I transfer my interest to my trust?

Yes. You can transfer your share of any real property into the trust without affecting the shares of the others.  If two people own a piece of real estate as joint tenants and one of them transfers his or her share into his or her revocable trust, that severs (ie terminates, ie ends) the survivorship feature, meaning that if either of the two co-owners later dies, the other co-owner no longer automatically inherits the deceased co-owner’s share.

Can I put out of state property into the trust?

Yes you can, and in fact you should. If you do not transfer out of state property into your trust, your beneficiaries will need to have a separate probate in each state in which you own real estate. This would result in multiple executors and attorneys fees If however, the property is transferred into your trust, the probate systems of each of the states involved are avoided.