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What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust is a document that allows you to place assets or property into a trust so they can seamlessly transfer to your beneficiaries after you pass away. Trusts are legal entities that hold assets for beneficiaries to eventually inherit. As its name suggests, you can amend or revoke the terms of a Revocable Living Trust at any time.

  • Revocable trust
  • Revocable grantor trust
  • Revocable inter-vivos trust
  • Living revocable trust
  • Joint revocable trust

What is the purpose of Revocable Living Trusts?

Revocable Living Trusts are valuable tools to use as part of your estate planning process.

If you pass away without a trust or Last Will, your assets will be distributed according to your state's intestate succession laws. If you decide to make a Last Will and Testament as part of your estate plan, your estate will be distributed according to your wishes documented in your Will. This process, known as probate, can take a long time.

A Revocable Living Trust avoids the public probate process, which means that your assets get distributed to your beneficiaries much quicker, usually in a matter of weeks rather than months or years.

A Revocable Living Trust can also serve other purposes, depending on your objective. Like with a Power of Attorney, a Revocable Living Trust can help with incapacity protection. Placing certain assets in a Revocable Living Trust can ensure that a trusted family member or friend, known as your successor trustee, can control the assets if you are incapacitated without needing a court's permission.

Who are the parties involved in a Revocable Living Trust?

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The grantor is the person who creates and places assets in a Revocable Living Trust. Sometimes, the grantor of a trust may also be referred to as the donor, trustor, or settlor. When two people create a joint revocable trust, they are co-grantors. Most often, co-grantors are spouses who own and control the trust together.


The trustee is the person who controls and manages the assets within the Revocable Living Trust. Most Grantors name themselves as the trustee of their Revocable Living Trust so they can retain control of their assets during their lifetime.

Successor Trustee

The successor trustee is the person who will manage the trust if the primary trustee passes away or becomes incapacitated. Suppose you name yourself as the trustee for your Revocable Living Trust and become incapacitated. In that case, your successor trustee can control the trust's assets without having to involve a court or take further action.


The beneficiary is the person or entity entitled to benefit from the assets within the trust. You can name individuals, charities, or business entities as beneficiaries.

How to set up a Revocable Living Trust

To set up a Revocable Living Trust, follow these steps:

Create a Revocable Living Trust document

Within it, you must name a trustee, list beneficiaries, and list the assets you will place in the trust.

Sign the document and get it notarized

If you appoint someone other than yourself as the trustee, they must also sign.

Transfer the ownership of assets into the name of your trust

This process varies depending on the type of asset. You will still have access and control over your assets.

If you become incapacitated, your trustee or successor trustee can manage the trust's assets. Upon your death, your trustee or successor trustee can seamlessly transfer the assets within your trust to your beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process.

Many people that create Revocable Living Trusts also create a Pour-Over Will for themselves. A Pour-Over Will transfers any of your remaining property into the trust when you pass away.

Who owns the property in a Revocable Living Trust?

As the grantor, you still own the property within a Revocable Living Trust. Despite transferring an asset's title to the name of your trust, the asset is still considered part of your property when you use a Revocable Living Trust.

The law still considers you the owner of the property within your Revocable Living Trust because you can change ownership of the property or terminate the trust at any time, and control the trust's contents as trustee. Therefore, you can be taxed for any income your Revocable Living Trust generates during your life.

What assets can I put in a Revocable Living Trust?

Generally, people place assets with high monetary value into Revocable Living Trusts. Some examples include:

  • Real estate property
  • Securities, such as stock, bonds, or mutual funds
  • Investments
  • Business interests, such as company shares and partnership interests
  • Bank accounts, cash, and notes payable
  • Valuable personal property, such as jewelry, artwork, and antiques

How do I transfer property to or from a Revocable Living Trust?

You need to use a deed to transfer real estate to or from a Revocable Living Trust. Deeds are legal documents that transfer real estate property ownership. Generally, you can use either a Warranty Deed or Quitclaim Deed.

If you are transferring tangible personal property without a title or registration, such as jewelry or furniture, use either a Bill of Sale or Gift Deed.

To transfer a bank account to a Revocable Living Trust, you are best off inquiring with your bank about their process. Each financial institution has its own rules and requirements for transferring a bank account to a trust. Generally, you have to complete a Certificate of Trust as part of the process.

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