How Does a Living Trust Work?


Quick Answer

A living trust is a legal, written document that details the assets a person wishes to place in the trust and includes instructions on how the assets should be distributed after the person's death, explains LegalZoom. The trust allows the ownership to remain with a person until his death.

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Full Answer

A living trust appoints a successor trustee to be in charge of the distribution of the deceased's assets, according to LegalZoom. A living trust is a private document, and unlike a will, does not need to go into probate for the assets to be distributed. Therefore, the successor trustee can begin making the distributions shortly after a person's death, and the contents of the trust, as well as the directions for distribution, do not need to become public knowledge.

The appointed trustee pays any bills incurred by the trust. Living trusts also allow for an individual to name guardians of his minor children, much like a will. The financial assets such as stocks, bonds and checking accounts must be transferred to the trust fund accordingly. Trusts can also be worded so the successor trustee can take over managing the fund if the owner of the living trust becomes incapacitated, notes LegalZoom.

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