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Revocable Living Trusts: A Beginner's Guide

A revocable living trust can save your family member's estate thousands of dollars, while still giving him the control he wants over his assets, before and after death.

By , Caring.com senior editor
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The advantages of a revocable living trust

A revocable living trust is one of the single most important documents for older adults -- or anyone with assets -- to have in their estate plan. It functions as a will, allows their estate to avoid probate, makes a potential guardianship process unnecessary, and gives them control of their assets for as long as they'd like or are able to manage them. They don't need to be rich or have vast assets -- a life insurance policy, checking account, house, or any asset of value merits establishing a revocable living trust.

There are other important advantages to this type of trust. "While a will is a matter of public record, a trust isn't. You may have an issue in your family that you don't want the public at large to know about, but anyone can get access to a recorded will," says Ashley Biteler, a trusts and estates attorney in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Also, without a trust, an estate will go through probate, a costly and lengthy process in which the court administers the distribution of the estate. And if the estate holds property in multiple states, it will have to go through probate in each state.