The Washington trust is an estate-planning document used to dispose of one’s estate. Its principal advantage over a regular will is avoiding probate, providing guardianship planning, offering privacy, and allowing quicker and easier administration.
The creator of the trust is called the grantor or trustor and can be the trustee of his own trust as well as the primary beneficiary of the trust. Therefore, the same person can play three roles at one time: grantor, trustee, and beneficiary.
If the grantors are married, own everything jointly, and have less than a 5 million estate, they will probably have one joint trust in which they serve as co-trustees. If they own assets separately, as can be the case in second marriages, or have an estate of over 5 million, then two trusts should be considered.
Successor trustees are those chosen to manage the trust upon the incapacity of the grantor (creator). They can serve in first, second or third order or two can serve as successor co-trustees. Also, their function begins upon the death of the last grantor, at which time they would distribute the estate according to the instructions in the trust. Successor trustees can reside anywhere and do not have to be related.
The pour-over will is a document that “pours over” to the trust everything that is not in the trust upon the death of the creator of the trust. It is also a way to bequeath personal effects, if desired. It replaces any previous will, and, in fact, becomes the “Last Will.”
Trusts have become a very popular way to plan one’s estate. The advantages over having a simple will are (1) avoiding probate, (2) avoiding guardianship problems, (3) obtaining privacy, and (4) providing for efficient administration of the estate.