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Virginia Trusts Basics: An Overview of the Trust Instrument

A trust is a modern day legal agreement that is used to transfer and distribute property and income to different beneficiaries. A trust agreement requires three parties: the settlor, the Trust creator and person who transfers property into the trust; the trustee, who manages and distributes the principal and/or income of the trust; and the beneficiary, who receives the principal and/or income of the trust. Although a trust requires three parties, it is possible for a single individual to assume the role of all three parties or some combination thereof.

To see if you qualify for a free Virginia trust and estate planning consultation, contact McClanahan Powers by e-mail or phone at 703-520-1326. All calls and e-mails are returned within 24 business hours.

Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable living trust is the most commonly known type of trust and closest to a will counterpart. "Revocable" means that the property or rules regulating the trust can be revoked or modified at any time. "Living" means that the trust was created during the settlor's (person who creates the Trust) lifetime.

One of the advantages of using a revocable living trust as the principal instrument in an estate plan is that at the decedent's death, most of the property can be passed to beneficiaries almost instantly; whereas property transferred by a will must go through probate before it can be distributed to the intended beneficiaries. Another advantage of the revocable living trust is that the property being transferred is private; whereas property in a will must go through the court and consequently becomes public record. Also of note, property in a revocable living trust outside of the state or commonwealth does not need to be probated and can, therefore, avoid ancillary probate and the costs associated.

A revocable living trust may be the right choice for some estate plans, but it is not the best instrument for everyone. Even if an individual chooses to use a revocable living trust as their primary estate planning instrument, an estate planner will still recommend the use of a pour-over will in conjunction with the revocable living trust. This means that you would need to have both a will and a trust created, which may increase the overall cost of the estate plan. Additionally, having a financial expert act as trustee to manage the trust can further make the use of a trust an expensive choice. An experienced estate planner will take you through the advantages and disadvantages of various estate plan strategies to help determine the best estate plan to fit the client's needs.

For more information regarding the advantages and disadvantages in using a Trust in estate planning, please see Virginia Trust Advantages and Disadvantages.

Contact McClanahan Powers to see if you qualify for a free Virginia Trust Consultation

To see if you qualify for a free Virginia trust consultation, please call McClanahan Powers at 703-520-1326. Or, to send an e-mail, please complete and submit the online form on this website. Flexible appointment times and payment options are available.