Requirements in Illinois for Revocable Living Trusts

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Requirements in Illinois for Revocable Living Trusts

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Some Illinois residents choose to plan their estates and get their affairs in order using revocable living trusts. Unlike a will, which takes effect upon a person's death, when an individual uses this kind of estate planning, it goes into effect during their lifetime. When the creator, or grantor, sets up a trust, they often plan to manage it, acting as the trustee, while they are still alive. In this case, they can be allowed free use of the property in it.

Family smiling on front lawn

However, this is not always the case. The grantor is free to select another person to be the trustee if they so choose. In that case, the designated trustee manages the property and funds of the estate. Often, a revocable living trust has a provision for an alternate trustee if the grantor becomes incapacitated. In this case, the grantor can create and leave detailed instructions regarding how to use their assets during their incapacitation.

In Illinois and every other state, while the grantor is alive, they are capable of changing, amending, or terminating the trust at their discretion. Upon the death of the grantor, or at another triggering event detailed in the estate-planning documents, the trustee takes over and distributes the property in the estate to its beneficiaries pursuant to the grantor's terms.

The main difference between a will and a trust is that assets within the latter do not have to go through probate. Once the assets transfer, the trust, not the person, owns the assets.

Designating Guardians

A revocable living trust can identify guardians for the underage children of the grantor. A well-written plan also identifies temporary guardians. These temporary guardians can take immediate custody of the children until the permanent guardians arrive.

Additionally, these documents can include the identification of alternate guardians. These individuals are able to step in if the original guardians cannot or do not wish to take on the responsibility of guardianship.

Funding the Trust

Only funded trusts are effective. In other words, it is not enough to draft a document establishing one. You must transfer assets from the grantor to the trust. Financial institutions must receive notice of the transfer. The deed to property, such as a house or car, must reflect the trust's ownership of the asset. For example, instead of a home being owned by Jeff and Christine Olson, the deed must read "Jeff and Christine Olson as Trustees for the Jeff and Christine Olson Revocable Trust." Items such as jewelry and art are not held in someone's name and therefore do not have a separate legal process for transferring.

A pour-over will is a will that states any assets not in the trust at the time of the grantor's death become assets of it upon the grantor's death.

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

There are several benefits to estate planning in general, as well as revocable living trusts specifically. For example, this method of planning allows you to:

  • Provide for a spouse, children, and grandchildren
  • Distribute property pursuant to the owner's wishes
  • Organize finances
  • Plan for a potential disability

Additionally, this method of planning avoids the probate process that comes with a will. Property must go through probate in the state of its location. If a person owns properties in Illinois and Wisconsin, for example, their heirs have to probate the two properties in two different states if the person simply leaves a will, or if they die without a will. A revocable living trust, however, owns both properties, and they can transfer according to the grantor's wishes without having to go through probate.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.