Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trust: Which One Is Right for Me?

Law Office of Geoffrey Fong Dec. 7, 2023

Lawyer working with client about trust in officeTrusts are powerful legal tools that can provide individuals with control over how their assets are managed and distributed. They come in various forms, each with its own unique features and benefits. Two of the most common types of trusts are revocable and irrevocable trusts. While they share some similarities, their differences can significantly impact estate planning strategies.

Navigating the ins and outs of trusts can be a daunting task. That's where the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong comes in. Based in Rocklin, California, the firm serves clients throughout the surrounding areas, including Roseville, Folsom, and Citrus Heights. Their team is well-versed in estate planning and can provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions about revocable and irrevocable trusts. 

Overview of Trusts 

A trust is a legal agreement involving three parties: the settlor, the trustee, and the beneficiaries. The settlor places their assets under the management of a trustee, who then manages these assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Trusts can be set up while the settlor is still alive or established through a will upon their passing.  

Trusts offer several advantages over traditional wills. They allow for more control over asset distribution, maintain privacy by avoiding the public probate process, and can offer protection for your assets. Furthermore, trusts can be customized to suit individual needs and objectives, making them a versatile tool for estate planning. 

What Are Revocable Trusts? 

A revocable trust, often referred to as a living trust, is a type of trust that can be altered or revoked by the settlor during their lifetime. This flexibility allows the settlor to retain control over their assets and make changes to the trust's terms or beneficiaries as needed. Upon the settlor's death, the assets within the revocable trust are transferred to the designated beneficiaries.  

The primary advantage of a revocable trust is its adaptability. It can be modified to accommodate changing circumstances, such as adding or removing beneficiaries or altering distribution instructions. Additionally, assets within a revocable trust can bypass the probate process, saving time and money. However, it's crucial to note that revocable trusts do not offer substantial asset protection from creditors or significant tax advantages. 

What Are Irrevocable Trusts? 

An irrevocable trust, as the name implies, is a type of trust that cannot be changed or revoked once established. The settlor permanently transfers control and ownership of their assets to the trustee, who then manages these assets for the beneficiaries' benefit according to the trust document's instructions. 

Irrevocable trusts offer potential tax savings and asset protection. By transferring assets out of the settlor's estate, they may reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Furthermore, since the assets are no longer part of the settlor's estate, they are protected from creditors. However, the terms of an irrevocable trust cannot be altered once established, so it's essential to carefully consider the implications before setting one up. 

Considerations When Choosing Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts 

Choosing between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust depends on several factors. If flexibility is a priority, a revocable trust might be more suitable as it allows changes during the settlor's lifetime. However, if you're looking to save on estate taxes or protect your assets from creditors, an irrevocable trust might be more beneficial. 

It's also crucial to consider how much control you want to maintain over your assets. Revocable trusts allow the settlor to retain control over their assets, while irrevocable trusts transfer this control to the trustee. 

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong Can Help You 

Deciding between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust is a significant decision that can have long-term implications for you and your loved ones. It's crucial to take the time to understand each option fully and consider your unique needs and goals. With the help of a trusted estate planning attorney from the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong, you can create an estate plan that offers peace of mind and protection for your assets. Contact the firm today.