Revocable Trusts are designed to avoid the probate process, but often they are unsuccessful because people fail to complete the critical step of transferring their assets into the trust vehicle.
Probate is the process of transferring title to your assets after your death. During your lifetime you are able to transfer assets by executing a transfer document, whether that be a deed, assignment or other instrument. These transfers can also be accomplished during your lifetime by a power of attorney; however your power of attorney’s authority is terminated upon your death.
Generally speaking, a Revocable Trust works by providing your “successor trustee” with the power to manage and transfer the assets owned by the Revocable Trust upon your death without having to go through probate. In the case of assets titled in your name and not in the name of your Revocable Trust, the only person who is able to execute transfer documents on your behalf after your death is the “personal representative,” who is designated in your will. However, a probate in State court is necessary to empower your personal representative to transfer any assets not included in the Revocable Trust. Not the result most people bargain for when they create a Revocable Trust – so be sure to review the titling of your assets!