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Revocable v. Irrevocable Trust

Revocable and irrevocable trusts are two distinct types of legal arrangements used in estate planning and asset management, and they have key differences in terms of flexibility, control, and purpose:

Revocable Trust (Living Trust):


  • Flexibility: A revocable trust, often referred to as a living trust, can be altered, amended, or revoked by the grantor (the person who creates the trust) at any time during their lifetime. This flexibility allows the grantor to make changes to the trust’s terms, beneficiaries, or assets as needed.
  • Control: Since the grantor retains the ability to modify or revoke the trust, they maintain significant control over the assets placed in the trust. They can also serve as the trustee, managing the assets themselves.
  • Probate Avoidance: One of the primary purposes of a revocable trust is to avoid probate, the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate. Assets held in a revocable trust typically pass to the beneficiaries without going through probate, which can be a time-consuming and costly process.
  • Estate Planning: Revocable trusts are often used for basic estate planning, allowing for the seamless transfer of assets to beneficiaries upon the grantor’s death while maintaining control and flexibility during the grantor’s lifetime.

Irrevocable Trust:


  • Permanence: An irrevocable trust, as the name suggests, cannot be altered or revoked by the grantor once it is established, or it can only be modified under specific circumstances outlined in the trust agreement. This means the grantor gives up control and ownership of the assets placed in the trust.
  • Asset Protection: Irrevocable trusts are commonly used for asset protection purposes. Since the grantor no longer owns the assets, they are shielded from creditors and lawsuits. This can be particularly useful for protecting family wealth or ensuring that specific assets are preserved for certain beneficiaries.
  • Tax Planning: Irrevocable trusts are also employed in estate tax planning. By removing assets from the grantor’s taxable estate, they can reduce estate tax liabilities. Examples of such trusts include irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) and grantor-retained annuity trusts (GRATs).
  • Medicaid Planning: Irrevocable trusts are sometimes used to help individuals qualify for Medicaid benefits by transferring assets out of their estate, which may otherwise disqualify them from Medicaid eligibility.

In summary, the key difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts lies in the grantor’s ability to change or revoke the trust. Revocable trusts offer flexibility and control during the grantor’s lifetime but do not provide the same level of asset protection and tax benefits as irrevocable trusts, which are more permanent and have specific legal advantages for certain estate planning and asset protection goals. Consulting with legal professionals to determine which type of trust best suits your individual needs and objectives is crucial in this regard.

Contact Martha Mendez today by calling 786-636-938 or by email: [email protected] to discuss your options with respect to your estate planning.

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