People make estate plans to protect their loved ones from the uncertainty of intestate proceedings. While avoiding a Louisiana probate court can seem difficult, many Bayou State residents establish revocable living trusts to keep their most prized possessions and valued assets safe and secure.
The Revocable Living Trust in Louisiana
Louisiana allows residents to establish several different kinds of trusts. The revocable living trust is one of the most popular estate planning trusts in Louisiana.
A revocable living trust is a form of legal arrangement that serves as a vessel for assets. When someone forms a trust, they can transfer assets into the trust’s control. Revocable living trusts, unlike some specialized trusts, can receive and “store” most types of assets, including but not limited to:
- Real property
- Recreational vehicles and boats
- Financial accounts, including cash deposits and stock portfolios
Some trusts are irrevocable, which means their terms cannot be changed or altered. However, an individual who establishes a revocable living trust can move assets in and out of their trust as they see fit. Furthermore, they retain the right to use and access trust assets for the rest of their life.
The Purpose of a Revocable Living Trust
People establish trusts because trusts help their beneficiaries avoid probate. However, a surprising number of people lack even a rudimentary estate plan. Gallup, one of the largest polling authorities in the United States, has found that well over 50% of Americans do not even have a simple will, the legal document which determines how assets should be distributed upon a person’s death.
While a will can help keep an estate out of intestacy, it is nonetheless an imperfect device. Although a will grants most eligible adults the authority to decide how their estate should be distributed after they die, it cannot protect prospective heirs from the travails of probate.
Probate, the process of distributing assets with or without a will, is overseen by Louisiana’s succession courts. Since probate is a public, emotionally wrenching process which is easily subject to claims by would-be inheritors and creditors, many people try to keep their assets out of probate altogether.
Establishing a revocable living trust is an easy way to keep an estate’s most valuable assets out of probate, since any assets held by a trust are, by default, not probate assets.
Ideally, a revocable living trust should avoid probate altogether. If structured properly and with a professional’s assistance, a trust could shield some of your most valuable assets from probate.
Your Estate Might Need a More Comprehensive Plan
A revocable living trust—just like a will—should be an integral part of a more comprehensive estate plan. If you have many possessions or have not updated your estate plan in years, you may benefit from other estate planning devices.
A pour-over will, for instance, is still subject to probate, but it can help your estate executor transfer any assets not already in your trust into the trust’s control, even after you have died.
Who Benefits From a Revocable Living Trust and Holistic Estate Plan
No matter how great or small your estate may be, you could still benefit from a revocable living trust. It lets you retain control of your assets while ensuring your heirs are afforded the privacy they deserve as they remember you.
Your estate plan is not just an instrument to make your loved ones’ lives easier after you have passed away—it is your enduring legacy. So, you should still talk with your Louisiana succession attorney about:
- Your will
- Your advance health care directive and power of attorney
- Your beneficiary designations
- Your retirement accounts
- Your digital estate
Contact a Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you are considering establishing or revising a revocable living trust, please send Scott Vicknair Law a message online, or call us at 504-264-1057 to schedule your consultation.