Living Trusts in the State of Washington

By David Carnes

Under a living trust arrangement, you place your assets under the care of a trustee, and the trustee distributes them to your beneficiaries, according to your wishes, after your death. The creation of a trust offers certain legal benefits, such as tax exemptions and probate avoidance. In the state of Washington, trusts are created and governed by Chapter 11.98 of the Revised Code of Washington.

Probate Avoidance

The main benefit of a revocable living trust is that its assets are not subject to the probate process -- the trustee can distribute assets at any time before or after death, as long as distribution is authorized by the trust document. This benefit often saves your heirs time and money after you die because probate administration can be expensive and take months or years to complete. Washington offers an inexpensive, expedited probate process for estates worth less than $100,000, which may be an alternative to creating a trust.

Revocability

A trust can be either revocable or irrevocable. You can dissolve or amend a revocable trust at any time before you die, but irrevocable trusts cannot be dissolved or amended. Unlike some states, Washington considers a trust to be irrevocable unless the trust document specifically states otherwise. The main advantage of an irrevocable trust is that the trust assets are normally protected from creditors and are not counted as part of your probate estate for estate tax purposes. This is important if the value of your estate would otherwise exceed the estate tax exemption -- $5,120,000 in 2012 and set to fall to one million dollars in 2013.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Creation

In the state of Washington, you must be at least 18 to establish a trust. Create the trust by drafting a document that specifically states its purpose is to create a trust; names the beneficiaries; names a trustee who lives in Washington; and instructs the trustee in how to distribute the assets. Under Washington law, the same person cannot be the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary. Although not required by law, carefully listing trust assets in the trust document helps to prevent disputes concerning the identities of the assets that belong to the trust. Signing and dating the trust document in front of a notary public prevents questions about its authenticity.

Transferring Assets

Transferring title of your assets to the name of your trustee prevents the court from considering these assets as part of your probate estate. If the trust assets include cash, the trustee should establish a bank account in the name of the trust using the trust instrument as proof of his authority to open the account. Title to real estate and automobiles should also be transferred into the trust. When you add property to the trust, always amend the trust document to include the new property and, if it is titled property such as real estate, change the title to the name of your trustee.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Consumer's Guide to Living Trusts & Wills in Arizona
 

References

Resources

Related articles

Living Trust Guidelines

A living trust is a way of managing assets, a tool used primarily in estate planning. It offers a number of advantages over a last will and testament, including greater flexibility in the management and distribution of your assets. Living trusts are governed by state laws and these laws differ slightly from state to state.

How to Write a Last Will & Living Trust

A last will and testament sets out how your property is to be distributed after your death. A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, allows you to dispose of your property while you are still alive, as well as after your death. Many people use living trusts to avoid the delays of probate court and to avoid estate taxes.

What Is a Reversible Living Trust?

In order to shelter assets from the probate courts and taxation, many people choose to create a trust. In a trust, a grantor transfers property to the care of a trustee and names a beneficiary who will inherit the property. There are many different kinds of trust, but two main forms affect how a grantor may handle the assets. These are revocable (or reversible) and irrevocable.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

How Long Must a Trust Be in Place to Avoid Inheritance Tax?

A trust is a method of protecting your assets from a complex and expensive trip through the probate courts, which have ...

Family Trust Planning Guide

A family trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to appoint a trustee to administer assets on behalf of ...

How to Create a Legal Trust

A trust is a legal instrument that is useful for tax and estate planning. Under a trust arrangement, a trustee manages ...

When Does a Testamentary Trust Will Go Through Probate?

When you die, many of your assets will have to go through probate before your estate’s representative can distribute ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED