Revocable Trusts: Privacy and Protection For You and Your Family


Estate planning is essential for directing what happens to your assets and how your family is protected in the event you are incapacitated and after your death. The subject is complicated and emotional, causing many to delay and not prepare their family when it’s important.

MAI can simplify estate planning for you and your family. We do this by aligning the right strategy, documents, and tools. One of the tools we use is the Revocable Trust.

The Revocable Trust – also known as a “living trust” – is a useful estate planning tool that has advantages over a traditional Will. Importantly, Revocable Trusts are not only for ultra wealthy clients – but instead are being embraced by individuals across the country who want to control the distribution of assets and protect the well-being of their family.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A Revocable Trust is a legal instrument created by a grantor to ensure the proper management and distribution of assets in the event the grantor is incapacitated or dies. In effect, encompassing a grantor’s assets while they are alive and when they are deceased.

It is considered “revocable” because it can be changed or revoked by the grantor at any time during the grantor’s lifetime (assuming they are competent) – unlike “irrevocable trusts” which offer additional tax benefits but usually cannot be changed without a court order or approval of all beneficiaries of the trust.

The Revocable Trust can be used instead of a Will to distribute property after the person dies. However, it may not replace the Will completely if there are assets not included in the trust. In addition, parents who wish to name a guardian for their minor usually do so in a Will.

How is a Revocable Trust Created?

The grantor, also known as the trust creator, establishes the Revocable Trust document with the help of an estate planning lawyer. As part of the document, the grantor appoints a trustee (or trustees) who has a fiduciary duty to manage the grantor’s trust assets.

Sometimes, the grantor also becomes the first trustee. They may then select another person to be the trustee if they pass away or become unable to fulfill the role. After the grantor dies, the successor trustee is now responsible to give the assets in the trust to the beneficiaries listed in the Revocable Trust.

After the trust document is written, signed and notarized, the grantor then funds the trust by transferring or retitling assets such as investment accounts, bank accounts, and real estate into the trust.

What are the Advantages of a Revocable Trust?

There are several important benefits associated with Revocable Trusts that traditional Wills do not provide, including:

Asset Protection

Following the death of the grantor, assets left in trust for beneficiaries can be protected from
their creditors. It is important to note that not all Revocable Trusts are drafted to maximize creditor protection for beneficiaries, so be sure to consult your attorney if asset protection is important to you.

Privacy and Probate Avoidance

A Will must be submitted to a probate court following death. It is a public process available for inspection by any individual interested in your estate.

Revocable Trusts are not required to be filed with a court following death and only beneficiaries are entitled to a copy. If assets were properly transferred or retitled to the Revocable Trust, the successor trustee can administer and distribute trust assets privately and without court approval.

Immediate Access to Assets

An executor named in a Will has no power over the deceased person’s assets until a probate court validates the Will and officially appoints an executor. With a Revocable Trust, the successor trustee has immediate access to trust funds following death and can pay necessary estate expenses and living expenses for the surviving spouse or other beneficiaries without forcing a grantor’s friends or family to front the costs.

MAI Can Help You Get Started

A Revocable Trust is an essential and increasingly common estate planning tool for many families looking to protect assets, ensure privacy, and control the timely distribution of assets – without the hassle and cost of probate courts. MAI can simplify the process and align the right resources to help you get started. 

The opinions and analyses expressed herein are subject to change at any time. Any suggestions contained herein are general, and do not take into account an individual’s or entity’s specific circumstances or applicable governing law, which may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and be subject to change. Distribution hereof does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Recipients should consult their professional advisors prior to acting on the information set forth herein. In accordance with certain Treasury Regulations, we inform you that any federal tax conclusions set forth in this communication, were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purposes of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.

We look forward to learning about your financial goals.