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Estate Planning: Can a Trust Help You Avoid Probate Court?

Estate planning experts warn that the probate process can tie up your property for several months or longer, and the accompanying fees can total up to 5 percent of your estate’s value. Furthermore, if your will goes to probate, it becomes a matter of public record — which means anyone could obtain a copy.

If the value of your estate is not more than $100,000, no probate is required. For larger estates, one way to avoid probate court is by creating a revocable living trust.

Complex estate planning lawyer in Utah

How a Revocable Living Trust Works

A revocable living trust, also referred to as a living trust, is an estate-planning tool that holds ownership of your assets until you die.

With this arrangement, your property is transferred to the trust. You, as the appointed trustee, retain control of the assets and have the right to use them as you see fit during your lifetime. At any time, you can undo the arrangement, reclaim specific assets, add more property or designate a different successor trustee.

A living trust will survive your death, as your named successor will step in and take over the asset management. Since ownership of your property remains with the trust, it will not be subject to probate.

Using a Living Trust to Avoid Probate Court

A revocable living trust has several advantages:

  • Retain control over your property while you are alive.
  • Keep your estate plans a private matter instead of part of the public record.
  • Have asset protection in the event you become incapacitated.
  • Enjoy peace of mind in knowing your estate will be handled as you prefer.

Trusts are not without drawbacks, however. The disadvantages to avoiding probate court with this estate-planning approach include:

  • Establishing a trust requires legal assistance, which can be expensive.
  • Transferring property and assets into a trust can be difficult.
  • Using trust assets as collateral or making contracts regarding trust property can involve additional hurdles.

Should You Set Up a Revocable Living Trust?

Creating a trust is not the only way to avoid probate court. You could, for example, make certain accounts payable on your death to a designated beneficiary. And if you own shares of stock or business interests, you could use a transfer on death designation to avoid probate.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to estate planning, consulting with a legal professional is virtually always in your best interest. An expert in wills, trusts and asset protection can help you understand your options and determine the best approach to distributing your property.

If you live in northern Utah, contact the Franchise & Business Law Group for assistance. Our legal team has extensive experience creating complex estate plans, and we can ensure your assets are handled according to your wishes.

To discuss whether you should consider the use of a revocable living trust, contact our Salt Lake City, Utah, office and schedule an estate planning consultation today.

How to Choose a Business Attorney

The right business attorney can see you through the legal matters you face as a business owner. From employment issues and contracts to founder agreements, trademark protection and raising venture capital, many situations may require the assistance of a qualified lawyer.

To best protect your company, experts recommend looking for a business attorney before the need for legal help arises. How can you find a lawyer who can protect your interests and meet your needs?

Business attorney in Salt Lake City

Ask Another Attorney

If you have worked with a lawyer in the past — perhaps in writing a will or purchasing real estate — contact them and ask for recommendations. Attorneys often know lawyers in other specialization areas, and your contact may be able to suggest a highly qualified local business lawyer. 

Request Referrals from Colleagues

You can also look to other business owners in the area. While hiring an attorney who represents a big competitor may not be wise, choosing a business lawyer who works with other companies that deal with similar issues can be beneficial. 

Check with the Local Bar Association

Local and state bar associations are another good source of business attorney referrals. Most organizations provide contact lists of lawyers and legal practices arranged by area of specialty and location. 

Research Each Business Attorney

When you have several names of local lawyers, check their credentials and work history. Most attorneys maintain websites where you can find out about their educational background, how long they have been practicing law, their professional qualifications and their core competencies. Use this information to narrow down the list to your top attorney choices. 

Schedule Introductory Consultations

Most business lawyers offer complimentary introductory consultations. Make appointments with each of the attorneys you’re considering.

Come to the meeting with questions that pertain to your specific needs and the expertise of the lawyer. Treat the consultation as a sort of job interview, as you want to leave knowing whether this attorney is one you would hire. Take notes to help you remember your impressions during the meeting. 

Select the Best Business Attorney

As you make your final decision, consider how comfortable you are with the lawyer and their communication skills, and be sure to choose a professional you feel you can trust.

Are you looking for a reputable and experienced local business lawyer in the greater Salt Lake City area? Schedule a consultation with the award-winning legal team at the Franchise & Business Law Group.

Our lawyers have decades of experience working with Utah business owners. And with our forward-thinking advice and client-centered approach, the Franchise & Business Law Group can protect your company and help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to schedule a confidential business attorney consultation.