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Julie Garber

Basic Estate Planning: What's the Difference Between a Revocable Trust and a Living Trust?

By September 26, 2008

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Recently a client asked me "What's the difference between a Revocable Trust and a Living Trust?" It turns out that the client's mom did her original estate plan over 12 years ago and mom has a trust named the "Jane Doe Revocable Trust dated June 2, 1996." The client did her estate plan with me earlier this year and she has a trust named the "Susan Doe Living Trust dated January 4, 2008."

I explained to the client that while the general terms of her trust and her mom's trust are different, they're both "revocable" trusts. Thus, even though one is called a "Revocable Trust" and the other is called a "Living Trust," both trusts function in the same manner when it comes to their "revocability." In other words, since the trusts are both revocable, as long as the client and her mom remain competent, they can change the terms of their trusts or completely revoke them.

I've also run into revocable trusts named "Revocable Living Trusts," "Loving Trusts," and "Declarations of Trust," as well as a variety of other titles. The name used is really based upon the preference of the attorney who drafts the trust, and the key to it being a "revocable" trust doesn't depend on its name but on the actual terms of the written trust agreement. For our clients we use the name "Living Trust" simply because it's shorter to type than "Revocable Trust," but I tend to use "Revocable Living Trust" in my articles because it clearly describes the type of trust I'm writing about.

Further Reading

What is a Trust?
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
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