A revocable trust, or living trust, is an estate planning device that allows you to manage your property while you are alive and after your death. It is effective immediately after you execute it, and you can amend the trust during your lifetime. However, it becomes irrevocable at death. Although a will can add additional assets to the trust, it cannot dispose of the assets already in the trust or alter any trust provisions.
Parties to Trust
A living trust involves three parties: the grantor, who sets up and funds the trust; the trustee, who manages the trust assets; and the beneficiary, who gets use of the trust interest or assets. Generally, the person setting up the trust plays all three roles during her lifetime. In the trust document, the grantor names successors to manage and benefit from the trust after her death. She can amend any terms of the trust during her lifetime, but a will cannot be used to do so.
Role of Will
A revocable trust does not make a will unnecessary. If a grantor has assets that she neglected to add to the trust during her lifetime, a “pour over” will, which names the trust as beneficiary, transfers that property to the trust upon death. However, all assets transferred to a trust during the grantor's lifetime are trust property at her death. They cannot be bequeathed by the terms of a will, even if the will was executed after the trust.