This California estate planning blog has discussed trusts in the past. Generally, a trust is a legal device that protects a property right for a person while that property is held by another individual. Though trusts can serve a wide range of intents and purposes, they are generally grouped into one of two categories -- revocable or irrevocable.
A revocable trust is one that can be modified during the lifetime of the individual who creates it. Modification can mean making slight changes to the trust instrument or making major overhauls, even to the point of revoking the entire trust. Despite their potential to be changed, revocable trusts are very helpful for individuals who wish to keep their property out of probate when they pass away.
Similar in function to a revocable trust is an irrevocable trust. As its name implies, an irrevocable trust cannot be terminated or revoked. It also cannot be changed once it is established. Any property that is placed in an irrevocable trust is there permanently and as such individuals who create enforceable irrevocable trusts should take care when using these important estate planning tools.
Outside of simply classifying a trust as revocable or irrevocable a trust may take on any number of different forms and functions. Charitable trusts may be set up to benefit nonprofit or other charitable organizations. Special needs trusts may be created in order to provide lasting financial support for an individual who does not have the capacity to take care of oneself.
As every trust is different readers of this estate planning blog are encouraged to discuss their needs with their own attorneys before creating their own trust documents. A trust can be a powerful tool in one's complete estate plan and attorneys who work in the estate planning field can guide their clients through the trust creation process to avoid any costly omissions or mistakes.