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Using a Living Trust to Avoid Probate

Using a Living Trust to Avoid Probate

The administration of one’s estate is rarely an easy process. There are ways to make it easier, though, and using a living trust to avoid probate may help you and your loved ones avoid several common headaches.

Why Avoid the Probate Process?

Probate is the court-led review of a decedent’s will or wishes to determine how assets should be divided amongst heirs. In addition, probate typically involves an accounting of assets, payment of debts, and other matters. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid probate as much as possible because:

  • Probate can add additional costs to the estate administration process
  • Probate generally involves a third party, which may be against the wishes of the decedent
  • Probate can be a thorough, and therefore complex, process

Dealing with the probate process may require you to face a loved one’s death for longer than you wish. In many cases, probate is completely unnecessary.

The Living Trust as a Way to Avoid Probate

One of the most common ways that people pass assets to beneficiaries outside of probate is by placing assets in a living, or inter vivos, trust. A living trust is simply a trust you make during your lifetime. In Missouri, you can be the trustee of your trust, which means you can still control and enjoy your assets during your lifetime. When you pass away, the assets in your trust will be passed to your designated beneficiaries without having to go through probate.


Additionally, you can make changes to your trust during your lifetime. Some changes that the owner of a living trust can make include:

  • Adding or removing beneficiaries from the trust
  • Set or alter conditions for beneficiaries to receive assets
  • Change the timeline upon which beneficiaries will receive assets
  • Add specific instructions for the administration of the trust 

One advantage of living trusts is the ability to alter them. With irrevocable trusts, beneficiaries generally have to agree to any changes that the owner makes to this trust. This makes irrevocable trusts something of an inflexible option.

How Do You Start a Living Trust?

If you want to start or explore the merits of a living trust, you can contact a lawyer from our firm. Though a living trust can be a viable option for many, it is not always necessary or appropriate. An experienced, knowledgeable attorney can discuss your personal circumstances and help you decide if an irrevocable trust is right for you.


When you meet with our firm, we may discuss:

  • The assets you plan to place into the trust
  • What your goals are for a possible living trust (or what you hope to accomplish, such as avoiding probate)
  • Any conditions that you would like to impose upon disbursement of your assets
  • Any questions or concerns that you have about irrevocable trusts

Call Us Today to Speak with a St. Louis Estate Planning Lawyer

Bruntrager & Billings, P.C. can simplify a process that, in many cases, can be complicated. We hope to help you put a clear succession plan in place that protects you, your beneficiaries, and your assets from the hazards of probate. Our firm is ready to help you and your loved ones with a living trust. Call us today at 314-646-0066 or contact us online.