How to Create a Living Trust Template

By Edward A. Haman, J.D.

How to Create a Living Trust Template

By Edward A. Haman, J.D.

You can use the following basic living trust to create a template for your own living trust. Underlined italics in brackets indicate the type of information to be inserted in various places. Keeping a template allows you to amend your living trust, or create a new one, without starting from scratch.

Man writing on paper at desk

Trusts commonly consist of more than 20 pages, so each section could be expanded and numerous other provisions added. Such modification will be determined by your particular needs, which you will better understand after reading more about living trusts. This template is for a single person, but it can easily be modified for a couple. Most people use their name for the title, in the form of “The John Smith Living Trust" or “The John and Mary Smith Living Trust" or “The Smith Family Trust."


ARTICLE 1. Creation of Trust

I, [Your Name], (the “Grantor"), declare and make this revocable living trust (“Trust"), which shall be known as: “The [Your Name or Name of Trust] Living Trust, dated [date Trust is signed]."

ARTICLE 2: Beneficiaries

In addition to the Grantor, the beneficiaries (“Beneficiary" or “Beneficiaries") of this Trust shall be: [Names of Beneficiaries]

During the Grantor's lifetime, the interests of the Grantor shall be considered primary and superior to the interests of the other Beneficiaries.

ARTICLE 3: Trustees

Section 1. Initial Trustee. During the lifetime of the Grantor, and unless the Grantor becomes incapacitated, the Grantor shall serve as the trustee (“Trustee") of this Trust.

Section 2. Successor Trustees. Upon the death or incapacity of the Grantor, [Name of Successor Trustee] shall serve as the successor trustee (“Successor Trustee"). If the Grantor is subsequently deemed no longer incapacitated, the Grantor shall resume the duties of trustee with full control of the management of this Trust.

Section 3. Bond, Accounting, and Compensation. Trustees shall serve without bond, shall not receive compensation, and shall not be required to make accountings or reports.

Section 4. Duties of Trustee. A Trustee, other than the Grantor, owes a fiduciary duty to the Beneficiaries, but shall only be liable for willful misconduct or gross negligence. Mistake or error in judgment shall not be considered a breach of fiduciary duty.

Section 5. Powers of Trustee. A Trustee shall have all powers necessary and allowed by law in order to carry out the purposes of this Trust. These powers include, but are not limited to, the power to sell, encumber, lease, repair, alter, insure, and manage trust assets as if the Trustee were the absolute owner of the property.

Section 6. Incapacity of Trustee. In the event of the physical or mental incapacity of the Trustee, including but not limited to the Grantor, the Successor Trustee shall serve as Trustee. Incapacity shall be determined by certification of two medical doctors who have examined the Trustee, that the Trustee is unable to discharge his or her duties as Trustee.

ARTICLE 4: Trust Property

Section 1. Initial Property. The Grantor has or will assign, convey, and deliver to the Trust all of the rights, title, and interest in the property described in Schedule A of this Trust, as a gift and without consideration.

Section 2. Additions to and Withdrawals of Property. The Grantor may add property to, or withdraw property from, the Trust at any time.

ARTICLE 5: Lifetime Rights of Grantor

Section 1. Trust Property. During the Grantor's lifetime, the Grantor retains all rights to the control and use of all Trust property, income, and profits.

Section 2. Amendment or Revocation. At any time during the Grantor's lifetime, and unless and until the Grantor becomes incapacitated, the Grantor may amend this Trust, or revoke it in its entirety. Any amendment or revocation shall be by written instrument, signed by the Grantor. In the event of revocation, any remaining property will revert to the Grantor. Amendments may include, but are not limited to, changing the number and identity of the Trustees or the Beneficiaries.

Section 3. Homestead. If the principal residence of the Grantor is held by the Trust, the Grantor shall be entitled to the occupation and possession of the property for life, so as to preserve the Grantor's eligibility for any state homestead tax exemption.

ARTICLE 6: Distribution Upon Death of Grantor

Section 1. Payment of Expenses, Claims, and Taxes. Upon the death of the Grantor, the Trustee shall, upon the request of the executor of the Grantor's estate, pay such part or all of the expenses of the last illness, funeral, burial, and estate administration; and any legally enforceable claims against the Grantor's estate. The Trustee may also pay any estate, inheritance, or succession taxes, or other taxes payable as a result of the Grantor's death (whether federal, state, or foreign), together with any interest or penalties thereon.

Section 2. Distributions to Beneficiaries. Upon the death of the Grantor, all property of the Trust remaining after payments pursuant to Article 6, Section 1, shall be distributed to the Beneficiaries as follows: [Insert a description of what property, dollar amount, or percentage of trust assets are to be distributed to each beneficiary].

ARTICLE 7: Miscellaneous Provisions

Section 1. Amendment After Death of Grantor. This Trust may not be amended after the death of the Grantor.

Section 2. Applicable Law. This Trust shall be governed by the laws of the State of [Name of State].

Section 3. Unenforceable Provisions. If any provision of this Trust is deemed unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall remain in effect.

Section 4. Titles and Headings. All titles and heading used in this Trust are for convenience only, and should not be used in interpreting this Trust.

Signatures and Notary: [Insert signature, date, witness, and notary provisions for your state.]

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