What is a Revocable Living Trust?

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

How does a revocable living trust work? This question is an important matter that you can discuss with the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, as soon as a potential need arises. If the question of how living trusts work in Texas is on your mind, you may feel overwhelmed. A revocable living trust, or living trust, is a legal document created during a person’s lifetime that permits a chosen trustee to manage that individual’s assets to benefit the current and future beneficiaries.

The dedicated Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) recognize just how serious questions related to living trusts are. Our team is committed to finding answers that work for you or your loved one who may need a living trust.

How Does a Revocable Living Trust Work?

Most people think of a last will and testament as the most common way to pass an estate on to beneficiaries. Another way is to create a revocable living trust. Depending on your particular circumstances, a revocable living trust may be the best choice for your estate plan.

To create a revocable living trust, a person (the grantor) signs a trust agreement naming a person(s), a corporation, or both as trustee to manage the trust. In Texas, the grantor and the trustee can be the same person. If you name a trust company or bank as trustee–instead of an individual, it ensures that a professional trustee will always be available to act in the best interest of a grantor.

A revocable living trust usually allows property to be managed for the grantor’s benefit. Usually, the grantor retains certain rights over the trust during their lifetime, including:

  • the ability to direct the trustee to give away all or any portion of the trust property;
  • the ability to revoke or change the living trust whenever they want;
  • the ability to make discretionary distributions of income and principal to the grantor and/or the grantor’s family

A revocable living trust acts as a last will and testament when a grantor dies, and property is distributed to beneficiaries following the trust document.

Generally, it’s best to fund the trust while the grantor is living, rather than when the grantor dies; that ensures continuity of asset management and financial support, should the grantor face a disability.

To fund a trust during a grantor’s lifetime, you must title real property, securities, and other assets in the name of the trust. Retitling property is not required for trusts funded at death when the probate estate is “poured over” into the trust. However, funding a trust at death may not avoid the necessity of probate.

Benefits of Revocable Living Trusts

1. Continuity of Management During a Disability

A revocable living trust is a great way to plan for your property to be used for your benefit– if you become mentally or physically incapable of managing your affairs.

The continuity of management is possible when a financial power of attorney is signed. Still, third parties (banks, brokers, and transfer agents) often have more trouble dealing with a power of attorney than a trust agreement. And, if the designated agent cannot act, a financial power of attorney will not be helpful.

Suppose you become disabled and don’t have a revocable living trust or a power of attorney. In that case, you may face a lengthy and expensive court proceeding to appoint a guardian for you before your property can be used for you (or your family).

Even after a guardian is named, ongoing court supervision for managing investments and disbursements is usually required.

2.  Flexibility

With a revocable living trust, out-of-state individuals or trust companies can administer your property at death if you choose. Also, it is usually easier to make changes to a revocable living trust than to a will.

3.  Avoiding probate

Probate is the court process required to determine whether a last will and testament are valid. Because probate can be costly and time-consuming, avoiding probate is one of the benefits of a revocable living trust. For example, if you have homes in more than one state, avoiding probate may be a significant benefit because you can avoid more than one probate proceeding. However, every state has a different probate process, so consult a local attorney.

4.  Immediate Availability of Assets at Death

Revocable living trust assets are available immediately after death to pay estate taxes, administration expenses, and debts without waiting for a probate court decree. If the trust is funded before death, the property in the trust remains in the trustee’s name before and after the death. It is immediately available for liquidation should the need arise.

5.  No Issue with Missing or Destroyed Originals

Original wills must be provided in court to avoid the suspicion that the will was revoked. Usually, one original must be produced at death. Because revocable living trusts avoid probate, many originals may be signed, and one original can validate property held in the trust at death. A revocable living trust can simplify property transfer at death if the original will cannot be found or is destroyed.

6.  No Interference with Investment Management

A primary benefit of revocable living trusts is providing uninterrupted investment management should the grantor become disabled and after the grantor dies. If you previously transferred assets to the trust, you don’t need to retitle securities after death. Additionally, depending on the grantor’s estate’s cash needs and investment objectives, there may be no need to create a new investment strategy.

Disadvantages of Revocable Living Trusts

A few disadvantages to revocable living trusts arise from the different treatment of trusts and wills under specific property laws.

1.  Funding Your Trust

In addition to creating your trust, you must take action to fund it. You must change beneficiary designations on accounts owned by the grantor. You must change your property to a trust’s name to include it in a revocable living trust, which may be difficult and involve costs like filing fees. As part of your estate plan, using a pour-over will transfer all additional assets into your revocable trust, so no assets have to go through probate.

2.  Adapting to Changed Circumstances

The grantor must be sure to update the provisions of a revocable living trust as things change.


Trusts are very complex. If you have concerns about how trusts work, seeking professional legal counsel is well-advised. The experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC understand your cares and are dedicated to helping you find the most suitable path forward, given your circumstances. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

The Texas probate process is a complex but important facet of the law. And whether you are ready to write your Last Will and Testament (will) or are executing the will of a loved one, an experienced Texas probate attorney can help ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.

Probate can be a complicated legal process that can directly affect how your legacy will flow from you to your loved ones upon your death. It is important to better understand the Texas probate process in order to help protect your estate and to help ensure that your wishes –regarding which of your assets will go to whom –are effectively and efficiently upheld. The probate process can become exceptionally difficult very quickly, but working closely with an experienced Texas probate attorney from Ibekwe Law, PLLC can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are protecting your legacy and your loved one’s rights to the assets you intend for them to have. Contact our compassionate and experienced estate planning attorneys at 512-505-2753 or at www.willsintexas.com to learn more about the Texas probate process and how it may impact your decisions.

What Is Probate?

While probate can be a very overwhelming legal process, it is not difficult to understand what probate actually entails. Your assets will go into probate upon your death if one of the following does not apply to the specific asset in question:

  • The property has been transferred to someone else by way of a trust.
  • The property has been transferred to someone else by way of joint ownership with a right of survivorship
  • The property has been transferred to someone else by way of direct payment to beneficiaries, such as with retirement accounts or insurance policies

In essence, probate is the legal process by which a court officially recognizes your death and oversees both the distribution of your assets and the payment of your debts. The court will facilitate this process and, if it becomes necessary, will protect the interests of both your creditors and beneficiaries. If you have a will, the executor of that will (or your personal representative) will likely file for probate. If you die without a will, it is called dying intestate, and Texas’s laws of intestacy will govern how your estate will be distributed (which can vary considerably from your own wishes).

Independent Probate Administration

The vast majority of probate cases in Texas are done via independent probate administration, which is generally the most efficient and least costly option and which avoids the bulk of court supervision. Independent probate administration bypasses the following requirements experienced with the dependent administration of estates:

  • Posting a bond to protect the estate against losses that could result from the executor’s careless or dishonest efforts
  • Asking the courts permission before taking specific steps necessary to settle the estate, including establishing a family allowance, paying debts, selling property of the estate, distributing assets to intended recipients, and more

The independent probate administrator is the executor of the will, and he or she is required to publish a notice for any potential creditors out there and to file an inventory that specifies the decedent’s assets with the court. Further, the executor must gather and protect the assets of the estate until they are distributed to their rightful recipients. The dependent administration of estates is much less common, but if an executor has reason to request greater supervision by the court, he or she can do so within the Texas probate process.

The Role of the Will’s Executor

The executor of a will is charged with specific duties that must be carefully addressed in order to satisfy the requirements of the court, including:

  • Compiling a complete inventory of the decedent’s assets
  • Addressing the debts and other financial liabilities of the estate
  • Resolving any claims the estate has against any other parties
  • Filing the decedent’s final income tax return and paying any outstanding taxes
  • Distributing all assets to those beneficiaries designated in the will –or to those that the state determines are heirs (if the decedent has no will)
  • Partitioning any land (as applicable)

The role of a will’s executor can be exceptionally detailed, and there can also be liability involved. The surest way to ensure that a will is executed faithfully is to work closely with an experienced Texas probate attorney.

The Role of Debts in Probate

As mentioned, the decedent’s debts must be addressed in the probate process –they do not simply disappear upon death. The debts that tend to play a role in the Texas probate process include:

  • The decedent’s mortgage
  • Any taxes owed by the decedent
  • The decedent’s pending medical bills
  • Any personal, car, and/or student loans of the decedent
  • And child support and/or alimony arrearages owed by the decedent
  • Common expenses that are generally addressed during probate include:
  • The decedent’s pending legal expenses
  • The decedent’s funeral and burial costs
  • Any pending accounting and tax filing expenses owed by the decedent
  • Any necessary appraisals for businesses and real estate owned by the decedent

How Does Probate Impact Community Property?

As a married couple in the State of Texas, the assets that you acquire over the course of your marriage are considered community property, which is the property that belongs to both spouses. Upon one spouse’s death –and as long as neither of you has children born of another relationship –this community property becomes the sole property of the surviving spouse.

Only those properties that either of you brings into the marriage with you and keeps separate throughout –or that you both agree is separate property in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement –will remain the owner’s separate property. It is important to note that establishing the property as separate is often more difficult than you might imagine.

An Experienced Texas Probate Attorney Can Help

The Texas probate process is an important component of the law. Because it is the legal mechanism by which you ensure your estate flows smoothly –and according to your wishes –to your loved ones upon your death, it is important to address it correctly, and the experienced Texas probate attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you do just that. We take great pride in helping our clients create estate planning documents that correlate exactly with their wishes and in helping others successfully maneuver the often-complicated probate process with their loved one’s wishes intact. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

Understanding the Texas Probate Process

Whenever someone dies and leaves property to their loved ones, the court starts legal proceedings and supervises the payment to the heirs and payment of debts once the decedent (deceased person) dies. This is called probate.
When people die with a valid will, their property will usually be distributed (according to their wishes in the will) after the probate process.

When someone dies without a will, they die “intestate,” and the rules of that particular state direct how assets will be shared. For example, when the decedent passes with a will, their personal representative or executor has four years to file the will and start the probate process. If no one presents the will by this four-year deadline, the court assumes that the person died intestate (without a will). If a person dies with no will and there is no executor, the court will appoint an administrator; that appointed person will review the deceased person’s assets and debts, provide a written inventory of these items, and assist with the probate process.

The probate process is not necessarily easy or fast. It can take six months or longer to complete. For example, if a will is lost, contested, or bogus, the probate process can take even longer. The good news is that even during extended probate processes, beneficiaries may still have access to some funds like IRAs, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. That’s because those funds do not go into probate and are distributed by the bank or firm that has them if an account beneficiary is named.

Whether you have a will or not, the probate process is extremely complicated. However, it can be easier if you have a competent and knowledgeable legal professional by your side who will explain the probate process. By hiring true professionals, like the staff at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, you can ensure that your assets are distributed to your loved ones, according to your wishes. Contact them today!