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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Q: Should my estate plan include a revocable trust?

In a nutshell, a simple will is actually not so simple and can often be a costly mistake by people who think they can do it themselves or even inexperienced attorneys. In addition, a will on its own doesn’t take advantage of other estate planning tools that may be advisable in the person’s particular case, nor does it protect the maker in the event they become incapacitated prior to death.

Comprehensive estate planning through a skilled New York or New Jersey estate planning attorney is personalized to each client’s particular situation and needs. Often, either in place of or in addition to the last will and testament, trusts may be used. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable and accomplish different goals.

A common trust used in estate planning is called a revocable trust or living trust. As its name implies, it can be revoked or changed at any time while the grantor (the maker) is alive. The grantor usually names themself to manage the trust and then, upon their death, the person they chose as a successor trustee takes over managing the trust and distributing its assets to the beneficiaries designated by the grantor.

Revocable trusts have many benefits including enabling the property placed in the trust to pass directly and more quickly to the beneficiaries because it passes outside of the probate court process. Another perk is privacy. Assets distributed under a will must go through the probate process and incur the cost and fees, delays, and lack of privacy associated with probate court matters being matters of public record. Revocable trusts can also help plan for potential future disability since a successor trustee can take over managing the trust in the event of the grantor’s incapacity.

While revocable trusts are an important part of many people’s estate plans, sometimes an irrevocable trust is used—such as when doing Medicaid planning. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will review your particular circumstances and advise what’s best in your case.

Contact Our New York or New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney

If you need help with an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning attorneys at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our office is in Staten Island, New York and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we represent clients in both states in all aspects of estate planning and estate administration.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.