By Kent Walker
As a married father of three children, there is nothing more important than my family. And so, in order to protect my family if I should pass, much like my clients, I have an estate plan. I chose to use what is referred to as the “Revocable Living Trust” as the backbone of my estate plan.
As an estate attorney, I receive frequent calls from family members that are needing to address intestate scenarios, involving the loss of a family member who died without a will, or family members that are in need of my direction and counsel to probate a Will and begin the estate administration. Whether a person dies with or without a Will – either way the probate process is required.
Probate is the legal process in which a court of law – i.e. a branch of the local county government – oversees the administration of the decedent (the person that died). Typically, a Will must go through this probate process before the distributions may be carried out.
Once the Will is proven, the Court mandates the decedent’s debts are paid using a 4 week notice system, followed by a 90 day waiting period before the assets are distributed according to the directives in the Will.
All Wills are subject to the Probate Court of the County. The length of the timeframe involved with this process, along with the expenses involved with the administration, are the last thing I want for my wife and children. So, I decided to use a Revocable Living Trust instead of a Will.
A Revocable Living Trust is similar to a Will in the sense that I created the Trust for the same purpose: transferring assets to my beneficiaries at my death. That is, my assets will first pass to my wife, and then to my children. I often refer to the Revocable Living Trust as a “Will Substitute”.
Unlike a Will, my Revocable Living Trust avoids the probate process entirely and it is completely private. Wills when probated become part of the public record. My Trust will keep my affairs from the public eye – not that I have anything to hide. I simply prefer my private family affairs to remain exactly that – private.
As a result of creating my own Revocable Living Trust, I have created a legal agreement to hold title of ownership to my property. I am able to direct my property to be transferred from me as the owner to the trust as the new owner. There is typically no tax consequence.
I can also align my beneficiary designations from my investment accounts and my life insurance to properly fund my Revocable Living Trust to achieve tax planning strategies, and the funding of any trusts for my children in the event that both my wife and I should die at the same time.
As Trustee of my Revocable Living Trust, I retain complete control over my trust assets during my lifetime, as well as the direction of the distributions at death. Moreover, my trust is completely amendable so I can conveniently change it whenever I wish throughout my life.
I can update trustees that age out of roles. I can add gifting to charities later in life. I can implement a Special Needs Trust if my children should require one. Even upon my death, I will retain control of the Trust because the people I name in the key roles and the distributions that I have provided become irrevocable upon my death.
The Revocable Living Trust is a great strategy that I have used to ensure my family will be provided for while minimizing the burdens of financial affairs and administration after my death. I recommend using it for your family as well.
We are here to help you and your family through all aspects of your financial life. Please contact us at 800-871-1219 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to speak to Kent Walker and his team directly his contact information is below.
Mr. Walker earned his Juris Doctor Degree from Emory University School of Law and is admitted to practice law in the State of Georgia. He is a member of the Atlanta Bar Association and the Trusts and Estates section of the State Bar of Georgia.
Mr. Walker lives with his wife and their three children near Chastain Park. He returns often to his native British Columbia to snow ski, sail, hike, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with his family. He is a passionate supporter of his favorite soccer team, the Chelsea Football Club. Mr. Walker is the Founding Partner of Walker Estate Planning.
He can be reached:
Walker Estate Planning
6075 Barfield Road, Atlanta, GA 30328