What is the purpose of a Living Trust?

The term Living Trust refers to a revocable trust that is created by and for the benefit of an individual, the Settlor. The Settlor retains the right to alter or amend the trust document to withdraw any assets held by the trust and to revoke or terminate the trust at any time. Typically, all of the Settlor’s assets are retitled into the name of the living trust. At the Settlor’s death, the assets of the trust pass directly to the beneficiaries listed in the trust document. A number of commentators and speakers have promoted the living trust as a document every individual should have. Such commentators usually claim that a living trust will avoid the cost and delay of probate and insure privacy and save taxes. In some states, such as California, Florida, New York and Delaware, probate involves formal and involved court procedures which add to the cost and delay in distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, however, the probate process is straightforward and uncomplicated.