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Monday, February 26, 2024

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: Key Differences Explained by a San Diego County Trust Attorney

When it comes to estate planning, understanding the different types of trusts available is crucial. Two common types are revocable and irrevocable trusts, each with its own set of features and benefits. As a San Diego County trust attorney, I often encounter questions about the differences between these two types of trusts and which one might be the best fit for a particular estate plan. 

What is a Revocable Trust? 

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is a flexible estate planning tool. The grantor – the person who creates the trust – retains the ability to modify or completely revoke the trust at any time during their lifetime. This flexibility allows for adjustments as life circumstances or estate planning goals change. 

Benefits of a Revocable Trust 

The main benefits of a revocable trust include:

  • Privacy: Unlike a will, a revocable trust is not a public record. It allows for a more private distribution of assets.
  • Probate Avoidance: Assets held in a revocable trust bypass the probate process, facilitating a smoother and quicker transfer to beneficiaries.
  • Lifetime Control Over Assets: The grantor maintains control over the assets in the trust and can make changes as needed.
  • Long-term Stewardship Over Assets: The grantor can provide for how their assets will be managed and used after they are gone to provide guidance, incentives and support for those persons or causes about which they care. 

Upon the death of the grantor, a revocable trust typically becomes irrevocable, meaning it can no longer be changed except through court action or through decanting.

 What is an Irrevocable Trust? 

An irrevocable trust, once established, generally cannot be altered or revoked (except through court action, decanting, or under California law by agreement of the grantor and all beneficiaries). The grantor transfers assets into the trust, relinquishing control and ownership. This transfer is permanent, and the grantor typically cannot reclaim the assets or change the terms of the trust on their own. Irrevocable Trusts are usually custom crafted to meet specific needs. 

Benefits of an Irrevocable Trust

 Key benefits include:

  • Tax Advantages: An irrevocable trust can provide significant tax benefits, including estate tax reductions and income tax advantages.
  • Asset Protection: Assets in an irrevocable trust are generally protected from creditors and legal judgments against the grantor.
  • Medi-Cal Planning: Properly structured irrevocable trusts can help in Medi-Cal share of cost planning and protecting assets from Medi-Cal recovery. 

Choosing the Right Trust for Your Needs 

Deciding whether a revocable or irrevocable trust is right for you depends on your individual circumstances, financial goals, and estate planning objectives. Factors such as the desire for flexibility, tax considerations, and asset protection needs all play a role in this decision. 

Getting Help

Revocable and irrevocable trusts serve different purposes in estate planning. Understanding these differences is key to making an informed decision about which trust suits your needs best. 

Whether you’re considering a revocable trust for flexibility or an irrevocable trust for asset protection and public or tax benefits, our San Diego County trust attorneys are here to guide you. Contact us at 619-281-1888 to discuss your estate planning needs and determine the best trust strategy for your situation. 

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The Attorneys of the Weissler Law Group assist clients in San Diego, California as well as in: Coronado, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Escondido, National City, Spring Valley, and Chula Vista.

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