Living Trust

Living trusts guarantee that your life’s decisions, plans & intentions will come to fruition– even if you are not able to personally oversee them.  Learn what a living trust can do for you.

Living Trust

A living trust is a useful estate planning tool that offers a number of protections to individuals and families with large estates. The advantages of a living trust are many and the Law Office of Constance A. Aschenbrenner handles these and the surrounding questions regularly.

Let’s talk about what a living trust is, why you may benefit from having one, and how to set one up.

What is a Living Trust and Do I have to Have One?

A living trust outlines your wishes for your family and property in the event of incapacitation or death.

Until then, you will make all decisions surrounding your property, just as you always have. The living trust will protect your real and personal property only when it’s needed.

While not mandatory, a living trust can provide estate planning advantages. By using a living trust, you can bypass the traditional probate process. Unlike probate proceedings, a living trust remains private, keeping the terms undisclosed and ensuring privacy for you and your family. Upon your death, the trust assets can be distributed without delay, bypassing probate or court orders.

How Does A Living Trust Work?

The act of putting your property into a living trust is known as funding the trust. You can fund your trust with any assets you like, with the following exceptions:

  • Property with beneficiary designations
  • Property with pay on death clauses
  • Property with joint ownership with survivorship rights

These are all excluded from the protection of a living trust. Examples of these include retirement accounts, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real property, or other personal property.

Throughout your life, you’ll act as the trustee of your living estate, deciding on all property matters. Writing a living trust is a matter of formalizing your estate plan.

In the event of your incapacitation or death, the person you appoint will assume your decision-making role. The person fulfilling this role is known as the successor trustee.

Your successor trustee steps in and ensures that your estate is distributed according to your wishes and takes care of your family’s needs, if any, as outlined in the living trust.

What are the Advantages of a Living Trust over a Will?

You may still need a will in order to:

  • Designate who your minor children’s guardian will be.
  • To disperse any property not added to the Living Trust.

Outside of that, the advantages of a living trust outweigh the use of a will to disperse your property. Here are just a few:

  • One key advantage to using a living trust is the ability to skip probate. Probate is the legal process of determining what to do with the assets of an individual after they die. These assets include bank accounts, real estate, and financial investments. It can be a long, drawn-out, expensive process. Especially if anything is left to question.
  • It protects the privacy of the deceased individual and their inheritors. Wills are public documents and anyone with an interest in the estate can access all the information pertaining to it, including who their creditors are, any debts they may owe, and any assets.
  • It allows the trustee (that’s you) to decide how to handle those assets after their death. This is especially useful when the successor trustee is young and inexperienced. Or if the situation is one of a blended family and you’d like to ensure that the properties are properly dispersed. It also offers protections in case of divorce.

Ready to Talk About Your Living Trust?

As you can see, the advantages of a living trust are well worth the time and effort needed to set one up. And while you can do much of it on your own, you really shouldn’t. Especially if your estate is involved and/or large.

Constance A. Aschenbrenner, our founder, has worked in Alaska since 1996 in various roles, including private, corporate, and state practice, as well as a public defender. She understands the needs of Alaskan citizens and is passionate about protecting her clients and solving their legal problems. She is an experienced estate planning attorney invested in both the state of Alaska and those who live here.

When you’re ready to consult with an Alaska-based Estate Planning Attorney, contact the Law Office of Constance A. Aschenbrenner. We are dedicated to empowering Alaska residents, one client at a time.


Get a FREE copy of

"The Alaska Wills and Trusts Guidebook"

by Connie Aschenbrenner


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!