It seems like most estate planning advice that is handed out today by non-estate planning attorneys is to get a revocable living trust. Just how effective are these trusts? The answer is that it depends.
Revocable Living Trusts can be wonderful. They can provide an excellent way to avoid probate and divide your estate after you pass away. However, these trusts can also have serious flaws if they are not done properly. In an article titled " The black hole revocable trust" in Smoke Signals, an attorney details one of the flaws that these trusts can have.
The article tells a fairly typical story of a married couple getting a trust at a bank. The bank hands the couple a standard form to create the trust. However, the couple never takes the next step because no one tells them that they need to do so. They never actually put any of their assets into the trust, making it a completely empty trust. It is only when they end up with an issue that they think about the trust, and by then it is often difficult to put assets into the trust.
That is just one problem with standard trust forms you can get from the bank or download online. Another is that the standard forms normally do not contain provisions regarding when significant changes need to be made, such as needing to provide for a new child. You should not rely on standard forms to create your trust. If you do want a revocable living trust, go to an estate planning attorney and get a trust that is customized for you.
Reference: Smoke Signals (undated, within last week) "The black hole revocable trust"