Determining how your valuable assets will be handled after you pass is a crucial aspect of estate planning.
Many people place important assets such as real property, cash, brokerage and money market accounts, bonds, business interests and other important financial resources and possessions into living trusts while they are still alive so that they know exactly who will receive these assets upon their death. Revocable living trusts differ from other types of trusts because the grantor – the creator of the trust – can change, alter or void the provisions of the trust at any time.
Of course making changes to a trust comes with expenses. In this article we’ll take a look at costs to establish a revocable living trust, as well the costs associated if you want to make changes to it.
What Is a Revocable Living Trust?
Revocable living trusts are created during your lifetime to help manage and protect important financial assets prior to your passing or becoming unable to manage your affairs due to the effects of aging. This type of trust can help solve many of the estate planning problems associated with wills, the American Bar Association reports, since this type of trust helps beneficiaries avoid the probate process.¹
With a living trust, a designated trustee (which can be you if you wish, or you can name a co-trustee) manages the assets held under trust. When you die, the trustee either disperses the assets held under trust to the proper designated beneficiaries or continues to hold and manage the assets depending on how the trust was written and structured. This type of trust differs from a will because it provides a legal mechanism to manage key financial assets while you are still alive, and it also creates a designated trustee to manage these affairs if you are unable to do it yourself, such as if you suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Tax treatment is another major difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts. With a revocable trust, you still own the assets held under trust and will have to pay taxes on them, as well as report any income generated from those assets on your individual tax return. In an irrevocable trust, however, you no directly longer own those assets – they belong to the trust, which is responsible for paying taxes and reporting income generated from the trust.
Lastly, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust upon your passing since the grantor no longer has the ability to make changes to the trust.
Cost Associated with Establishing a Revocable Living Trust
Costs associated with having an attorney create a revocable living trust depends on a number of factors. These can include:
- Number and value of assets to be placed under trust
- Complexity of drafting the document
- Length of time assets are to be held under trust
- Additional provisions included in the trust, such as disbursements, number of beneficiaries, and appointees for minor children
Expect to pay roughly $1,500 to $2,000 for this type of legal help, but your costs could run several thousand dollars more if it’s a complicated process. If your attorney bills by the hour, the average time to create a revocable living trust is about 10 hours.
The Bottom Line
Creating a revocable living trust can help you manage and protect important financial assets while you are still living. The trust is revocable because you can change the provisions of the trust at any time while alive. Expect to pay a few thousand dollars to create a revocable living trust, more if you have a large estate and multiple assets to place under trust.
An attorney can help you determine if this type of trust is beneficial to your estate planning goals, as well as give you a clearer idea of the costs associated creating the trust.
1. Revocable Trusts, American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/revocable_trusts/