Living trusts are created with a clearly defined objective: to avoid probate. Misconceptions about living trusts have spread to the point where people think trusts can accomplish much more than they are designed to. But if you are worried about your will being contested or your heirs fighting over your assets, a revocable living trust may be your best option.
You fund a revocable living trust with all, or largely all, of your assets during your lifetime. The trust owns the assets, but you can still use and control them while you’re alive. Once you die, the revocable living trust becomes irrevocable, and the assets in the trust are distributed according to your wishes by designated successor trustees who are exempt from probate.
In addition to giving you more control and privacy over your assets, a living trust may save your heirs time and money. An AARP survey found that it takes roughly 18 months to distribute the typical estate due to probate. Settlement costs from probate may eat up as much as 5% of an estate.