Misconceptions About Revocable Living Trusts

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A revocable living trust is a written agreement that designates someone as responsible for managing property for the benefit of others. In Maryland, a trust is only revocable if it explicitly states so in the agreement. As long as you, known as the “Grantor”, are mentally competent, you can change the trust at any time. A revocable trust becomes irrevocable when you die.

Revocable living trusts are an attractive addition to an estate plan because the assets in the trust may not be subject to probate, saving you time and money. Take a look at 4 common misconceptions about revocable living trusts. 

Misconception #1: Assets in a revocable living trust cannot be used by the Grantor.

Contrary to popular belief, the Grantor can still access the assets in a revocable living trust because they can appoint themselves as the Trustee. Additionally, a successor trustee can be appointed to manage the trust in the event of the Grantor’s death or incapacity.

Misconception #2: Once a revocable living trust is signed, the Grantor’s assets are automatically exempt from the probate process.

A trust is considered unfunded if the ownership titles of the assets remain in the name of the Grantor. To properly “fund” a trust, the ownership titles of the Grantor’s assets, such as vehicle titles and financial accounts, must be transferred from the Grantor to the trust. Therefore, if the assets have not been retitled correctly, they may still be subject to probate.

Misconception #3: Revocable living trusts are only necessary for those with large estates or many assets. 

An estate not only encompasses money and real estate, but also includes vehicles, electronic equipment, art, and other valuable possessions. A revocable living trust can be beneficial for medium and small estates. Also, it offers the Grantor flexibility in distributing their funds and property. For example, a Grantor with minor children may prefer to hold funds in a trust to be dispersed in increments. It is advisable to consult with an estate planning professional to determine whether setting up a trust is appropriate for your specific situation.

Misconception #4: Revocable living trusts are always the correct option.  

Some individuals may find a will to be the better choice for preserving their wishes, while others may benefit more from transferring their assets into a revocable living trust. In estate planning,  it is crucial to consider all your options to determine what is best for you and your family. 

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that some of the information provided may not be applicable in your state, and if you are uncertain about a specific aspect of estate planning or have questions regarding your situation, seek the guidance of an estate planning attorney that can provide you with much-needed assurance and security.

This article is for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

For assistance with Maryland and D.C. wills, estate planning and probate, contact the

Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at


Attorney Elsa W. Smith