Estate planning can seem complex, and many people dread the process. However, having a comprehensive estate plan in place can ensure that your living heirs get your assets in a timely manner. Failing to properly estate plan can mean that your assets end up in probate for a very long time: potentially years.

A living trust serves as the cornerstone of many effective estate plans. Living trusts can do many things, including helping your heirs avoid probate and giving you greater control over your assets after you die.

How does a living trust help avoid probate?

If you put property in a living trust, you have already transferred ownership of that property. Anything that goes into a living trust becomes property of the trust rather than your personal property. The reason why probate can take so long is that it involves ensuring that the property is correctly transferred.

With a living trust, you have already relinquished ownership of the property. Assuming that you have named a beneficiary for the trust, that person will automatically get the property upon your death. There is no probate associated with it. A living trust is particularly important if you own property in multiple states. Otherwise, your heirs will have to deal with out-of-state probate processes.

How does it give me greater control?

This is particularly important if you want to leave a valuable asset to somebody who may or may not be able to manage the asset. For instance, you can use a living trust to stipulate that your minor grandchildren receive money upon entering college or purchasing their first property.