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Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law

Avoiding Probate With A Revocable Living Trust

When planning their estate many Louisiana residents wish to have their assets distributed to their heirs without going through probate (succession). A succession could take months or even years to complete, and the associated legal fees and court costs can be significant. The time delays and expense of probate can increase greatly if there are one or more disgruntled heirs. For these reasons, many people want to avoid probate altogether to eliminate delays and the potential problems associated with probate.

Although not the norm, a succession may be delayed by the efforts of a disgruntled successor or due to a large and complex estate. An unhappy family member with adequate financial means can delay the succession by contesting the will, requiring estate accountings, and disputing the valuation of assets. Children from a prior marriage, for example, may be unhappy with how their parent’s estate is distributed. Unfortunately additional time to complete the succession will mean additional court costs and legal fees. By avoiding probate, many of the potential problem areas with unhappy family members can be eliminated.

Houma Revocable Living Trust Attorney

A revocable living trust is a trust that allows assets in the trust to pass outside of the will or intestacy thus avoiding probate. Avoiding probate by use of a revocable living trust, for example, can eliminate the potential delays of going through probate. Assets that transfer outside of probate may be transferred to the new owners as soon as administratively feasible. By avoiding probate the delays, expense and court supervision associated with probate is eliminated. If you have questions about revocable living trusts and avoiding probate, contact Houma revocable living trust attorney John Sirois. John can advise you of the advantages of avoiding probate, and whether avoiding probate is right for you and your family.

Beneficiary designated assets such as retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance by-pass probate. In addition, bank accounts may be registered as “payable on death” (POD) accounts and will transfer to the designated payee upon death. All other assets must be placed into a revocable living trust to avoid probate in Louisiana.

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Houma-Thibodaux Revocable Living Trust Attorney

Revocable living trusts do not have inherent tax saving advantages. Income from revocable living trust assets is taxed to the settlor (the person who created the trust). Estate tax saving provisions may be incorporated into a revocable living trust; however, these same provisions may be incorporated into a will. Revocable living trusts are also created for other reasons such as management of your affairs if you become incapacitated. If you have questions regarding revocable living trusts in Louisiana, contact Houma-Thibodaux living trust attorney John Sirois at 985-580-2520.

Typically spouses will establish a revocable living trust and transfer assets into the trust as a probate avoidance technique. Any asset in the trust will avoid probate, but will be subject to applicable federal estate taxes. The trust remains revocable until the surviving spouse’s death. While revocable, the spouse(s) may amend, change or dissolve the trust at any time.

While the spouses are living, they are the trustees and beneficiaries. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse assumes the role of sole trustee. After both spouses are deceased, the trust will either continue for the benefit of the children, grandchildren or other heirs, or the trust will dissolve and distribute the remaining trust assets to the beneficiaries (typically children and grandchildren). The trust document may stipulate that the trust remains in effect until the youngest beneficiary reaches a certain age. This helps ensure that the assets are properly managed and not squandered.

Revocable living trusts have received much attention as a probate avoidance planning technique. Many people are confused about the pros and cons of revocable living trusts, and whether they should use a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan. For the right situation, a revocable living trust is a wonderful planning tool; however, they are not necessary in certain circumstances. If you would like to learn more about the advantages of a revocable living trust in Louisiana, contact Houma-Thibodaux revocable living trust attorney John Sirois at 985-580-2520 or by email at

Metairie Revocable Living Trust Attorney

In addition to avoiding the expense and delay associated with probate, revocable living trusts can provide additional advantages.

Avoiding Ancillary Probate.

If you own real estate located in another state, a revocable living trust can help avoid an ancillary probate proceeding in that state. Likewise if you own real estate in Louisiana and move to another state, placing the Louisiana real estate in a revocable living trust can avoid going through probate in Louisiana.

Increased Privacy.

Probate proceedings are public record. If you prefer a greater degree of privacy, a revocable living trust can help. With more court records going online, privacy is a top priority with many people. Although not entirely private if real estate is held by the trust, a revocable living trust provides more privacy than probate.

Avoiding Will Challenges.

Revocable living trusts are also generally more difficult to challenge by a disgruntled heir than a will. If it is likely that a disinherited heir will challenge your will, consider establishing a revocable living trust. The greater degree of privacy and the ability to safeguard information about the trust can make challenges more difficult.

Asset Management if Incapacitated.

If you are likely to become incapacitated, revocable living trusts serve as an excellent tool to manage your affairs while you are incapacitated. You are typically the initial trustee of your trust. If you become incapacitated, your spouse, child, or other person you select steps into your shoes as the successor trustee. A revocable living trust can be an excellent property management tool without the need for an interdiction proceeding.

Revocable living trusts, like other estate planning tools, can be a valuable planning tool; nonetheless, they are not suitable for every situation. You must examine benefits and costs of a revocable living trust as they relate to your goals and particular situation.

Contact revocable living trust lawyer John Sirois in Houma at 985-580-2520 if you have questions about revocable living trusts and avoiding probate. Click on the Estate Planning Checklist to begin planning your estate. You may also e-mail him at for a consultation.

John works with clients throughout Louisiana including Houma, Thibodaux, Metairie, Kenner, Jefferson, New Orleans, Harahan, Gretna, and the River Parishes.

Click here to order a copy of John’s book, Louisiana Retirement and Estate Planning.