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If your estate is complicated you may wish to consider using a Revocable Living Trust as the cornerstone of your estate plan.  A Revocable Living Trust is one you can change or cancel during your lifetime.

Unlike a Will, a properly-funded Trust does not go through probate because the estate is controlled by a trustee of the Trust – usually you and your spouse.  It prevents the courts from controlling your assets should you become ill, and it gives you control over the assets you leave behind for your children and/or grandchildren.

A Revocable Living Trust allows you to combine all of your properties and assets into one Trust, including bank accounts, CDs, retirement plans or even life insurance.  Transferring all of these assets into a Trust is referred to as funding your Trust.  You will still need a Will, however, for “rollover” assets from your estate that have not been placed previously in your Trust.

In the Trust agreement you can direct how you want Trust property to be used after your death.  You can even name the Trust itself as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy and your employee benefits.  Assets placed in the Trust during your lifetime will escape the delays associated with the probate process.