An Introduction To Avoiding Probate With Trusts

Almost every discussion that involves someone attempting to avoid probate in Louisiana includes a discussion of the living trust.

The concept is that assets that are in your name when you die become frozen upon your death. Once the assets that are in your name are frozen, the surviving family members must hire attorneys  and go through a court-supervised probate proceeding. Many years ago, it was determined that the government, through the court system, would oversee how one's assets get managed and disbursed after they die. It is not a very efficient procedure. Note that not every asset you own is necessarily a "probate asset." For example, your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) likely is set up so that the financial institution will pay "designated beneficiaries" when you die. This can typically be handled outside of probate. But many other assets that you own, such as your home or other real estate, must go through a Succession.

It is also widely recognized, however, that when assets are set up the right way in a trust, the probate proceeding is not necessary to transfer those assets to your survivors. 

Example: Mom and Dad own a home, and they would like to leave it to their children. If the home is titled in the name of Mom and Dad, then their will be a probate proceeding at each death to transfer each spouse's interest in the home out of their name.  However, if Mom and Dad create a living trust and transfer, during their lifetime, their home to their trust, then typically when the first spouse dies, the home stays in the trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse (and the surviving spouse is the sole trustee of the trust), and after the surviving spouse dies, the home can immediately be transferred to the their children, without the government or the court system needing to supervise or approve any transfer, and without the family having to hire attorneys after each death to prepare and monitor all of the court legal work and court pleadings.