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What are some basic types of trusts in Washington?


Most Washington State residents are at least aware that trusts exist. Even if they are only familiar with them due to television depictions of wealthy people, or because of certain cultural references like 'trust fund kids,' they probably have at least some idea that these instruments are used in order to distribute wealth under certain controlled conditions. However, in reality, trusts are not only for rich people, and can be useful for many different kinds of estate planning. Further, there are a number of different types of trusts that are used for different purposes.

Today, we will look at two very basic forms of trusts: 'inter vivos' (during life) and testamentary. Both of these trusts can be used by Washington residents to implement their estate planning desires, but they work in slightly different ways.


Inter vivos trusts, as the name implies, are created while the people creating them are still living. These types of trusts can be either 'revocable' or 'irrevocable.' A revocable trust can be cancelled by the person who created it at any point. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, once created, generally must remain in existence. Both types of inter vivos trusts will help with avoiding probate, but will have differences in other areas, such as protection of assets from creditors. In most cases, it is a good idea to have a 'pour-over' clause in a will when setting up an inter vivos trust to avoid probate, so as to catch any assets that may have been missed when creating or adding to the trust.

Testamentary trusts are created within the will document of the testator. These are often used to ensure that there are controls on how assets are distributed to heirs, or to help protect assets from creditors. While these trusts will not necessarily help avoid probate, they can help a testator ensure that heirs don't spend all their inheritance immediately. They can also place other conditions on the distribution of certain assets.

It is important that Washington residents note that the way trusts are formed and worded are important with regard to whether they will be enforceable and how the trustee will be able to interpret the testator's intent. Choosing a proper trustee is also an essential part of the trust process. Those residents with questions may wish to consider contacting an experienced Washington estate planning lawyer for more information.

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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