Q. What is a living trust?

A living trust is a legal document in which a trust is created for you during your lifetime that allows easy transfer of your assets and property to your beneficiaries and heirs.

Q. What happens if I die without a will or a living trust?

The state of Utah will decide how your property is distributed to your beneficiaries, namely your spouse, children and close relatives. If you have minor children, a judge will decide who will care for them.

Q. What are the benefits of a living trust vs a last will and testament?

A last will provides detailed instructions on how property and assets will be managed and distributed when an individual dies. It becomes effective only after the individual’s death and after the will has been accepted by the court in a probate proceeding. Upon acceptance by the court, an executor or representative is appointed and given authority to carry out an individual’s wishes as detailed in the last will.

A living trust bypasses probate and provides detailed instructions on how property and assets which are held in the trust are to be managed and distributed.  A living trust becomes effective upon its creation and provides for the transfer of authority to a successor trustee or representative without court involvement in the event of disability or death.

Q. Do I need a will if I create a living trust?

Yes. A will includes any property not included in the living trust. All Utah Legal Express living trusts and living trust bundles include a pour-over will for this purpose, to gather all property left out of the trust or property acquired after the trust was created. A will also allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.

Q. Is a living trust document made public?

No. A will becomes a matter of public record. But with a living trust information regarding your estate, it’s property, and heirs is kept private and away from the public.

Q. When should you use a living trust?

You should use a living trust to disburse property when you die, efficiently distribute assets to your children and heirs, avoid probate, keep details of your estate private, continue to care for your family and children if you are incapacitated, and leave an inheritance to your children in the form of a trust.

Q. Can I put my house in a living trust if I have a mortgage?

Yes. Your beneficiary becomes responsible for the mortgage when they receive the property. If you have questions about using the trust to pay the balance on a mortgage or other debt before it is distributed to your heirs, you might want to speak with an attorney. Our living trust bundles offer an attorney advice option.

Q. Does a living trust protect my assets from creditors?

No. If a creditor wins a lawsuit against you he can go after the trust property just as if you owned it in your own name.

Q. Can I avoid probate with a living trust?

Yes. A living trust allows you to bypass probate. This can save your family and beneficiaries time and money. In many cases probate can last for several years. With a trust, the successor trustee will simply transfer ownership of the property to the beneficiaries you name in the trust. This process may only take a few weeks with no court cost or lawyer fees.

Q. Can a living trust be changed or revoked?

Yes. Provisions in the living trust can be changed or altered and even canceled at the grantor’s direction at anytime. Trusts are often referred to as revocable trusts.

Q. Can I be my own trustee in a living trust?

Yes. You can manage your own trust for as long as you are able to do so. When you die, or if you become incapacitated and unable to manage your financial and legal affairs, the successor trustee will step in and begin managing the trust. Many married couples are co-trustees, meaning when one spouse dies or becomes incapacitated, the other spouse can continue managing the trust.

Q. What is a trustee and successor trustee?

A trustee is responsible for managing the assets in the trust. A successor trustee will begin managing the trust when the person is unable to manage his or her financial affairs due to incapacity or after death. Married couples are often co-trustees, when one of them dies the surviving spouse can continue managing the trust without any further action or court involvement.