A common question we get is: what is the difference between a traditional Last Will & Testament, on the one hand, and a Revocable Living Trust, on the other?
When it comes to wills and trusts one must pay attention to which instrument is being referred to.
A standard Last Will & Testament (ie. a traditional Will) is a stand alone document. In the event you have a Will : upon your death your Will will have to be introduced into Court and be probated. That is, the court will examine your Will to determine if it meets the statutory requirements for Wills here in Oklahoma. At the end of the probate process: your assets are transferred to your loved ones according to the distribution scheme set forth under your Will.
A Revocable Living Trust, on the other hand, is quite different from a standard Will. A Revocable Living Trust typically encompasses a number of documents that work together to make the Trust work. Those documents can include but are not limited to: the Trust indenture itself, a Certificate of Trust, a Declaration of Trust, a Power of Attorney, and Assignment and Bill of Sale, etc.
What are the advantages of a Revocable Living Trust over a standard Will? There are several.
First. Perhaps most importantly – the probate process can be avoided. Your loved ones will not have to go to Probate Court and prove up your Will.
Second. Speed. Probates take time. It’s not uncommon for a probate action to take in excess of one (1) year to complete. Contrast that with a Revocable Living Trust. Given a Trust that is properly created and funded: it’s possible your assets could and can move to your loved ones very quickly following your passing.
Three. Privacy and/or Confidentiality. This is an important feature of Trusts. While probates involve proceedings open to the general public, trusts on the other hand are conducted privately and outside of the court system.
Four. Flexibility. You manage your Trust while you are living. You can adjust how it works.
Five. Trusts greatly reduce legal challenges made by disgruntled family members. These individuals have a open forum to file a “Will Contest” in a probate action. That’s not the case however when dealing with a Revocable Living Trust. Challenges there are much more difficult.
Six. In the event you become disabled: your Successor Trustee can manage your financial affairs without having to resort to filing a Guardianship action on your behalf.
It makes sense to have a Revocable Living Trust. There’s a reason why they have become as popular as they are here in Oklahoma. Give us a call at: 918-286-8001 and let’s discuss setting one up for you.