Revocable Trusts / Living Trusts

What is a Revocable Trust?  How do I  set up a Living Trust?  How do I pick a Trustee?   Will a Trust shield my property from creditors?  Does a Trust avoid probate? What type of Trust should I have?  Do I need an attorney to prepare a trust?

Arden Law Firm prepares Revocable Trusts from $850 for individuals and $1250 for a husband and wife planning together but the very first question to ask should be "Do I even need a Trust?"

Perhaps surprisingly, a revocable trust is not always necessary for a comprehensive estate plan.   A trust CAN avoid probate and courts in Maryland but it generally can NOT save on death taxes.  Despite the stories, a revocable trust does not automatically shield property from creditor claims.  There may be easier and more cost effective ways to transfer assets.  (See basic Will/Power of Attorney and Living Will packages). 


Trusts, particularly Revocable Living Trusts, may be unnecessary for planners with basic needs.  For instance, a living trust may be unnecessary in particular cases where a Maryland resident has all of the following:

  • a simple estate of less than $2 million 
  • a single stable lifetime marriage
  • a simple plan of distribution (e.g., all to spouse, then all outright to kids)
  • children all responsible, stable adults
  • a single child OR all children get along very well, live nearby and would likely make decisions together easily  
  • no business interests
  • no vacation homes or other assets to be preserved without sale 
  • no real estate outside of Maryland
  • no need / desire to set forth detailed plans for the management or sale of assets 

Sometimes a Trust is a good planning strategy! An attorney will most likely recommend a Trust for the following scenarios:

  • bended families (estate planning with children / stepchildren from prior marriage(s) such as a  "his/hers" or "his/hers/ours" situation) 
  • special needs (where a child or other beneficiary has severe medical issues, relies on public assistance)
  • financial management concerns (where one or more beneficiaries have poor financial management skills, have drug or alcohol addictions or simply lack the ability to handle money well) 
  • family vacation properties (where the original owner has a special piece of real estate, such as a vacation home and desires to preserve the property for particular uses or make sure it is not sold after their death)
  • real estate in multiple jurisdictions (where the planner owns property in Maryland and other states)
  • many intended beneficiaires (where either adult children do not work well together or the number of children/grandchildren would make joint ownership of real estate difficult or cumbersome)
  • strong desire for privacy  (where the planner wants no public record of the names of the beneficiaries) 

Not everyone needs a Trust, but for those who do Arden Law Firm offers custom Trust Packages for $850 - $1000 per individual  or  $1250 - $1500 for a husband and wife planning together. Arden Law Firm's Revocable Trust Package includes Wills, Power of Attorney, Advance Directive / Health Care Power of Attorney, Revocable Trust and one Maryland Deed into Trust. (additonal deeds available at discounted rates.  clients pay any recording fees)

If none of these situations apply, ask about affordable Trust Alternatives!  Call 410-216-7000 for a no-cost initial 10 minute phone call or send us an E-mail


A Revocable Trust CAN:

  • Make it easier to distribute property 
  • Avoid court involvement 
  • Avoid probate taxes and personal representative commissions
  • Allow for control of assets after death
  • Keep (in most cases) the terms out of the public eye
  • Help protect assets from a beneficiary's creditors

A RevocableTrust CANNOT:

  • Avoid death taxes (in some cases a trust may minimize state death taxes by apportioning assets among spouses but death taxes are still calculated on the value of what a person gives away, inside or out of trust) 
  • Eliminate creditor claims entirely 

 Of course, each situation is unique and sitting down with an attorney can help parse out whether your situation is "simple" or not!  (Arden Law Firm offers a no-cost initial phone call of up to 10 minutes and flat fee consultations of $150 for estate planning, the full consult fee is credited towards any flat fee work over $500 if the firm is retaind within 30 days of consult). 

What type of Trust should I have?

One author suggested that there are as many different kinds of Trusts as a lawyer's imagination!   At its most basic, a trust involves property being held by a Trustee for the benefit of other people.  This could be for a spouse, for a minor child, for grandchildren or for almost any purpose one can imagine.  The most common types of trust types follow: 

  • Living Trust or "Inter Vivos Trust" - a living trust or "inter vivos" trust is simply one that comes into play while the Maker (Settlor) is still living.  Oftentimes this will be a Revocable Trust. 
  • Revocable Trust - a trust that can be revoked or changed for any reason by the planner; for most purposes property in a revocable trust is still treated as belonging to the person who set up the trust
  • Irrevocable Trust - a trust that cannot be changed.  Sometimes a revocable trust set up by two spouses becomes irrevocable once one dies. 
  • Marital Trust or "AB Trust"- a type of trust that allocates property among spouses to minimize federal death taxes.  Due to recent changes in federal taxation law, the need for Marital Trusts or A/B Trusts has been minimized. 
  • Testamentary Trust - a trust written into the language of the planner's Will

Affordable Trust Alternatives 

Sometimes a planner can get all the benefit of a trust without the cost or hassle of creating a Trust.  This is particularly true in situations where the primary asset is a planner's Maryland  home and the planner has a single individual or two in mind to get the property. 

Ask about Enhanced Life Estate Deeds.  From $240 (plus gov't recording fees, generally $60), one can avoid probate and the associated probate taxes and expense without giving up control of property and without a trust!  


I'd like to talk to a lawyer about setting up a Trust or figuring out whether I need a trust:  Call 410-216-7000 for a no-cost 10 minute phone consult or fill out the following estate planning information form: (Please read the Firm's Privacy Policy/Terms of Use before Submitting)

© ArdenLawFirm 2014-2018  Managing Attorney Cedulie Laumann, Esq.