Living Trusts

Individuals and families frequently turn to living trusts to protect and preserve hard-earned assets and wealth, and to pass them on with minimal effort and expense. If you believe a living trust might serve your estate planning needs, Amoruso & Amoruso LLP is here to help.

A living trust is one of the vital pieces of the puzzle that makes up our signature comprehensive estate planning package. This holistic, innovative strategy is designed to manage, preserve, and distribute your wealth and assets in life and after death.

With nearly six decades of combined legal experience, Michael J. Amoruso and Sreelekha Chakrabarty Amoruso have gained substantial knowledge and insight into estate planning law. We’ve earned a reputation in New York and Connecticut for providing clients with cutting-edge legal solutions and comprehensive estate plans, all tailored to clients’ needs and aspirations for the future.

A New York living trust lawyer from our firm can review your financial and personal circumstances to advise whether a living trust can help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn more.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust is a legal structure established by you, the grantor, to protect assets during your lifetime and direct the assets’ distribution after your death.

Living trusts are frequently used in estate planning as an alternative or complement to wills and other estate planning tools. You can also use living trusts for other financial purposes, such as protecting assets from waste or creditors or minimizing tax liabilities for you or your family.

In a living trust, a party known as a trustee manages assets placed into the trust by you, the grantor. You establish the living trust by executing a trust document. The trust document governs how the trustee must manage the trust and directs the use or distribution of the trust’s assets and income. You may name yourself as the trustee, usually when you designate the trust as revocable, or you can nominate a third party to serve as trustee. You must also designate beneficiaries to receive trust income and principal.

Living trusts differ from testamentary trusts, in that testamentary trusts are usually created in a Last Will and only become effective after your death and your Last Will is probated, whereas living trusts become effective the moment you sign the document during your lifetime.

Is a Living Trust Revocable?

You may make your living trust revocable and amendable, and you may reserve the right to restate the entire trust in the event you make significant changes to your estate plan. A revocable trust allows you to retain complete control over the trust assets by appointing yourself as trustee and sole beneficiary. You also retain the legal authority to name successor trustees, change the terms of the trust, add or remove assets from the trust, change beneficiaries, or terminate the trust. You are in control and still own all of the assets you place in the trust.

Conversely, you may establish an irrevocable living trust. However, with irrevocable trusts, you as the grantor will lose some level of control and ownership in order to accomplish the purpose for which the trust was created (for example, Medicaid planning, tax benefits, or generational gifting). In addition, assets placed into an irrevocable trust stay in the trust and are distributed to beneficiaries as directed by the trust document.

Does a Living Trust Avoid Probate?

You and your family can use living trusts to pass wealth to succeeding generations without the time and expense of probate. You can direct who will receive assets from the trust following your death, the way a will directs the distribution of assets from a decedent’s estate, but without going through probate in court. Your successor trustee simply distributes trust assets according to your stated beneficiaries in the trust document.