How Can a Trust Avoid Probate?

By forming a revocable living trust, one can readily avoid probate. When a trust is formed, the creator of the trust would normally transfer most (or all) of their assets to the trustee of the trust (which is in most cases that same owner/individual) for the benefit of that same owner/individual during their lifetime. Accordingly, during the creator’s lifetime, the trust would not usually have any impact on control or use of the assets.

However, the key benefit of a trust is what occurs upon the death of the individual establishing the trust. Upon death, the trustee’s rights and responsibilities are transferred to a new pre-determined individual (usually appointed by the initial owner) and the assets of the trust are distributed (or retained for the benefit of successor beneficiaries) in whatever fashion has been laid out in the trust document by the owner. This often involves distribution to family members or other beneficiaries but it could be whatever the trust creator has established in the trust agreement.

In short, because the owner’s property was held by the trust, probate would be entirely avoided. The trustee takes control of trust property and manages and distributes the assets pursuant to the written trust agreement and no court involvement would normally be needed.