Sometimes, you can use a joint tenancy to bypass the need for real estate property to go through the probate process after you've passed away. You might buy a piece of property together with another person -- like your spouse -- and set up the ownership as joint tenants. Or, you might simply sign part ownership of your home to a joint tenant as a part of your estate planning strategy.
Living trusts are identified by the word "living" because you create them while you're alive, and you have the ability to change them while you're alive. After your death, the trust will be set in stone and no one will be allowed to change it. This flexibility while you're still alive is one of the many benefits received from an estate planning perspective when someone chooses to set up a living trust.
There are so many varieties of trusts that it's difficult to keep track of them all. These trusts can also drafted in a number of ways, which makes it tricky to know exactly what to do for an inexperienced trust planning attorney, and especially for a layperson who doesn't have any legal training. A Totten trust, for example, is a type of legal document that many people have never heard of.
Imagine that you want to use a trust as a part of your estate plan in order to protect the inheritances of your minor children. To put it bluntly, you don't want the inheritances of your children to be vulnerable to another family member -- like the guardian of the children -- taking them. Unfortunately, this can happen if both parents die and they leave behind a sizable inheritance for their child. The children's guardian could potentially spend the child's money for the guardian's own benefit.