Have You Established a Revocable Living Trust?

When a Texas trust attorney helps you set up a revocable living trust, in many cases, that trust becomes irrevocable – which means that it can no longer be changed – upon your death.

However, if you have named a trust protector, that person will be able to make necessary changes to your revocable living trust even after your death.x

You can learn more about the advantages of a revocable living trust by speaking with a Texas estate planning attorney. And because no one can predict what tomorrow may bring, you should schedule that discussion with an attorney as quickly as possible.

What Does a Revocable Living Trust Accomplish?

A revocable living trust is a practical and intelligent way to protect your estate. Like a will, a revocable living trust gives you control over how your properties and assets are distributed after your death.

However, when your properties and assets are transferred into a revocable living trust, those properties and assets are no longer subject to the probate process.

What this means is that after your death, your trustee may quickly and easily distribute your assets to your beneficiaries – without interference from a probate court. Further, certain trust language can be included in your trust document so that your assets are distributed in amounts and at times that you have spelled out in the trust.

What is the Difference Between a Trustee and a Trust Protector?

When you create a revocable living trust, you must name a trustee – someone you trust – who will manage your trust after your death, protect your estate, and ensure that your properties and assets are distributed to your beneficiaries according to your instructions.

A trustee is a “fiduciary” who is ethically and legally responsible for managing your trust and for carrying out the terms and conditions of the trust in precisely the way those terms and conditions are written. Your trustee, however, cannot also act as your trust protector.

Texas law has recognized trust protectors only since 2015. In Texas, a trust protector has only the authority explicitly granted to the protector by the terms and conditions of the trust, and a trust protector may (or may not) also act as a fiduciary.

What Are a Trust Protector’s Obligations?

A trust protector is someone, usually a lawyer, who can modify the terms and conditions of the trust and correct errors and omissions as needed. A trust protector can make sure that the trust conforms to your wishes and intentions even if laws and circumstances change after your death.

Unless you have designated someone to act as your trust protector, only a court can make changes to your trust after your death.

Your trust protector also ensures that your trustee administers your trust in accordance with your instructions and intentions. If a trustee manages your trust negligently or mismanages the trust’s assets, you can give your trust protector authority to dismiss that person and name a new trustee.

However, your trust protector usually works together with your trustee to ensure that your trust is handled properly and that your instructions are honored. If your trust protector is an attorney, he or she can offer your trustee legal advice and help resolve any disputes that may arise.

Who May Be Named as a Trust Protector?

When you choose someone to act as your trust protector, you should consider that person’s expertise, impartiality, and attention to detail. A third party (such as an attorney, an accountant, or another professional) often serves as a trust protector.

Many people designate the attorney who drafts the trust to be the trust protector. That isn’t necessary, but your trust protector cannot also act as your trustee. A relative or loved one who has financial experience – and who is not one of your beneficiaries – may also be a good choice.

How Can Your Beneficiaries Avoid Probate?

Probate in Texas can take up to a year, and it may take longer if your estate is complicated or extensive. In some cases, probate costs may consume a substantial percentage of an estate. Additionally, the probate process frequently triggers contentious family disputes.

A probated estate must pay probate court fees, attorneys’ fees, appraisers’ fees, and other related expenses. A probate dispute only adds to those costs.

However, if you have prepared a revocable living trust, your trustee – and not a probate court – handles the assets and properties that you have transferred to the trust. Your estate will avoid probate court and your beneficiaries will save time and avoid the frustration and cost of probate.

What Else Should You Know About Revocable Living Trusts?

The surest way to prevent disputes among your loved ones after your death is to set up a revocable living trust that is written clearly and precisely, compliant with Texas law, and enforceable by a court.

You should have a Texas trust attorney prepare that trust for you now, while you’re clearly “of sound mind.” If you already have a revocable living trust, but you have not named a trust protector, an attorney can amend your trust to include a provision for a trust protector.

Everyone’s circumstances are unique, however, and a revocable living trust may not be right for you. It depends on your business, financial, and family situation, your personal wishes, and your needs. An attorney at Mike Massey Law can discuss with you all of your estate planning options.

Let Mike Massey Law Prepare Your Revocable Living Trust

The estate planning attorneys at Mike Massey Law help our clients prepare estate plans that include revocable living trusts, wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney, and advance health care directives. We also help and advise trustees, trust protectors, and beneficiaries.

If you need to prepare a revocable living trust, or if you need your trust amended to include a provision for a trust protector, promptly contact a Texas estate planning attorney at Mike Massey Law. We provide across-the-board estate planning services to clients in every region of Texas.

To prepare or revise your revocable living trust, contact Mike Massey Law now in Houston by calling 713-489-7360 or in Austin by calling 512-400-4430. We know how to help you protect your estate, provide for your family, and prepare for the future.