Only about 20 percent of Americans create a living trust, but there are many advantages to doing. One of the biggest advantages for a New Jersey resident is to avoid the probate process, which can delay the transfer of of decedent's assets by up to a year. If properties exist in more than one state, then a person may even have to deal with multiple probate processes
A living trust is a legal document that gives a person a great deal of flexibility. The trust allows people to keep control and ownership of their assets while still designating what happens to them upon death. It is essentially a jump start on the paperwork usually done during probate and can shorten the disbursement of assets to only a few weeks. If the trust is designated as revocable, then the settlor can alter what is in the trust or get rid of it entirely as they choose. An irrevocable trust can't be altered, but it also takes assets out of the owner's estate for estate tax purposes.
Choosing which assets to place in a living trust is important. Usually, it makes the best sense to place all large assets in the trust. This includes real estate as well as other valuable items like artwork, vehicles and antiques.
Creating living trusts is usually done with the help of an attorney who has experience with these types of estate planning matters. The attorney may also advise the client about which assets to place in the trust or leave out and whether or not to make the trust revocable or irrevocable.