• Living Trust Book Back Cover (1)
  • Living Trust Book Back Cover (1)

Make Your Own Living Trust & Avoid Probate

In Make Your Own Living Trust and Avoid Probate, you’ll learn all you need to know about living trusts, their advantages and disadvantages, the tax implications, the alternatives to living trusts and, of course, how to easily make your own.

  • Create your own legally valid revocable living trust – step-by-step.
  • Avoid the delays and costs of probate.
  • Manage your assets during incapacity.
  • Leave money and property to your loved ones.
  • Save money and reduce taxes.

With detailed information, easy-to-follow instructions, helpful worksheets and all of the forms necessary, we show both individuals and couples how to avoid the otherwise inevitable delays and costs of probate by preparing a revocable living trust and using other simple probate avoidance strategies.


When a person dies, their assets often have to go through a formal court supervised process called probate. During that process, the deceased’s assets are often frozen until probate is complete. During the intervening period, the deceased’s family and other beneficiaries may be unable to access those assets. This can often cause them financial hardship as they wait months, and in some cases years, to have the assets released.

Add to this the fact that legal and probate fees can cost up to 11% of the gross value of an estate, and it’s not difficult to see why so many people want to avoid probate.

Fortunately, probate can (for the most part) be easily avoided by making a revocable living trust.

It’s relatively easy to make a living trust. All you need to do is complete and sign a revocable living trust agreement naming yourself as both grantor (the creator of the living trust) and trustee (the person who manages the assets transferred to the living trust). So, it’s essentially an agreement between you as grantor and you as trustee – no third parties involved. Once the living trust is created, you then transfer some or all of your assets to the trust. As trustee, you then take over the management of those same trust assets – which means you retain the use of and control over those assets.

When you die, the assets in your living trust are distributed by a successor trustee (which is little like an executor of a will, and is someone who you name in your living trust) to the beneficiaries named in your living trust agreement – in much the same way as assets are transferred to beneficiaries under a will.

However, importantly, as the assets are held in the trust’s name rather than in your personal name, they will not form part of your estate for probate purposes. As a result, they will not need to go through the probate process and can therefore be distributed quite quickly after you die.

EstateBee’s lawyers have created a straightforward and easy to understand book to show you how to:

  • easily create your own revocable living trust & avoid probate;
  • transfer property to and from your living trust;
  • amend and revoke your living trust;
  • manage your living trust;
  • make gifts to beneficiaries;
  • make provisions for the management of property gifted to young beneficiaries; and
  • much more.

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Table of Contents

An Introduction to Living Trusts and Probate

Chapter 1 – Probate and Why People Try to Avoid it

Overview of the Probate Process

What are the Steps Involved in Probate or Intestate Administration?

How Long Does it Take?

How Much will Probate Cost?

Disadvantages of Probate

Advantages of Probate


Chapter 2 – Probate Avoidance Measures


Advantages and Disadvantages of Probate

Avoidance Measures

Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Accounts

Transfer on Death Securities

Retirement Accounts

Joint Accounts

Custodial Accounts

Savings Bonds

Life Insurance Proceeds

Joint Ownership of Property

Revocable Living Trust

Lifetime Gifts

Probate Free Transfers of Assets

Simplified Transfer Procedures for “Small Estates

Chapter 3 – An Introduction to Trusts

What exactly is a Trust?

The Origin of Trusts

Basic Types of Trusts

What Exactly are Living Trusts?

Parties to a Living Trust

The Development and Growing Use of Living Trusts

Chapter 4 – Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Trusts

Advantages of Using a Living Trust

Disadvantages of Living Trusts

Chapter 5 – Types of Living Trusts

What Type of Trust do You Need?

Living Trust for an Individual

Living Trusts for Couples

Individual Living Trusts

Basic Shared Living Trusts

Basic AB Trusts

AB Disclaimer Trust


Chapter 6 – Successor Trustees

The Role of the Initial Trustee

Appointing a Co-Trustee

Appointing a Successor Trustee

Appointing an Alternate Successor Trustee

The Role of the Successor Trustee

Payment of Compensation to Successor Trustees

Entitlement to act as a Successor Trustee

Whom Should You Choose as a Successor Trustee?

Successor Trustee’s Duties

Changing Trustees

Removing a Trustee


Chapter 7 - Making gifts under Your Living Trust

Types of Gifts

What Is a Beneficiary?

Types of Beneficiaries

Gifts to Spouses

Gifts to Minors

Gifts to Charities

Failed Gifts


Disinheriting Your Spouse

Disinheriting Your Child

Children’s Inheritance & Property Guardians

Failing to Designate a Property Guardian

Options for Property Management

Chapter 8 - Estate Taxes

Estate Taxes

Federal Estate and Gift Tax

How to Determine the Estate Tax?

State Taxes

Marital Deduction

Non-Citizen Spouses

Charitable Deductions

Charitable Remainder Trust

Charitable Lead Trust

Other Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes

Lifetime Gifts

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

Family Limited Partnerships

Special Use Real Estate Valuation


Chapter 9 - Transferring Assets to Your Living Trust


What Assets Should Be Put in Your Living Trust?

Transferring Title in Assets to a Living Trust

Employer Identification Numbers

How to Transfer Specific Property to a Trust

Real Estate

Tangible Personal Property

Cars, Boats and Other Vehicles

Cash Accounts

United States Savings Bonds

Broker Accounts

Publicly Traded Stocks and Bonds

Retirement Plans

Life Insurance/Annuities

Other Property

Chapter 10 - Executing and Making Changes to Your Living Trust

Executing Your Living Trust

Reviewing Your Living Trust

Amending Your Living Trust Agreement

Transferring and Removing Property from the Trust

Revocation of Your Living Trust

Chapter 11 - Administering a Living Trust After the grantor Dies

The Successor Trustee’s Role

Obtaining Certified Copies of the Death Certificate

Obtaining Tax Identification Number for the Trust

Notifying Beneficiaries

Collecting and Managing Trust Assets

Preparing and Filing Tax Returns

Transferring Property to Beneficiaries

Administering a Child’s Trust


Chapter 12 - Ancillary Estate Planning Documents

What is a ‘Pour-Over Will?’

Avoiding Conflicts between Your Living Trust & Your Will

Planning for Incapacity - Power of Attorney for Finance & Property

Planning for Incapacity – Advance Healthcare Directives

Living Wills

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Appendix 1 - Instructions for Completing Your Documents

Appendix 2 - Revocable Living Trust Documents

Appendix 3 - Miscellaneous Clauses for Use in a Revocable Living Trust

Appendix 4 - Deeds of Assignment

Appendix 5 - Certifications of Trust

Appendix 6 - Revocable Living Trust Amendment Agreements

Appendix 7 - Notice for Revocation of a Living Trust Agreement

Appendix 8 - Estate Planning Worksheet


The following forms are included on this book:

- Revocable Living Trust for an Individual
- Revocable Living Trust for a Couple
- AB Revocable Living Trust for a Couple
- Deed of Assignment for Use with a Revocable Living Trust for an Individual
- Deed of Assignment for Use with a Revocable Living Trust for a Couple
- Certification of Trust for Use with a Revocable Living Trust for an Individual
- Certification of Trust for Use with a Revocable Living Trust for a Couple
- Revocable Living Trust Agreement (Amendment Agreement) for an Individual
- Revocable Living Trust Agreement (Amendment Agreement) for a Couple
- Notice of Revocation

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