Living trusts are created during the settlors’ lifetime, a trustee is given responsibility for managing the individual’s assets for the eventual beneficiary. The trust allows the beneficiaries to easily receive the assets without going through probate since it’s active while the settlor is alive. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable.
Irrevocable trusts require the settlor to give up absolute control over the trust, the trustee is effectively the legal owner, but the individual’s taxable estate is reduced. Once the irrevocable living trust is made, the named beneficiaries cannot be changed.
Revocable trusts allow the settlor to become the trustee as well, with control of assets within the trust. The assets in the trust are still a part of the settlor’s estate , so there could still be estate taxes if the value is beyond the tax exemption. The settlor does have the power to change the rules at any time, so the beneficiaries can change or undo the trust all together.
Testamentary trusts are created in the terms of a will, they don’t exist until the individual dies, so it goes through the probate process. The deceased’s assets are paid out only when certain conditions are met. They are useful for children who stand to inherit the estate, and for setting aside property to care for a pet. The expiration of the trust is usually tied to an event, such as the beneficiary graduating college or reaching a certain age. The trust is revocable until the settlor dies since it hasn’t been created, and it becomes irrevocable after.