Using Trusts to Avoid Probate in New Jersey

Avoid Probate by Using Trusts in New Jersey

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. It encompasses the crucial steps of validating a will, assessing assets, settling debts, and distributing property to beneficiaries. Probate is often time-consuming and costly, particularly in complex or contested estates. Yet, strategies exist to circumvent probate, notably through establishing trusts.

This article delves into using trusts for probate avoidance within New Jersey.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal agreement in which a property holder, known as the grantor, transfers their assets to a trustee tasked with administering and disbursing them as stipulated in the trust’s terms. While beneficiaries enjoy the benefits of the trust, they do not own the assets. There are two main forms of trusts: revocable and irrevocable, which allow the grantor to modify or revoke the trust during their lifetime.

How Can Trusts Help Avoid Probate?

Trusts can help avoid probate by transferring assets to the trust rather than the estate. Upon the grantor’s demise, assets within the trust seamlessly transfer to the beneficiaries, bypassing the probate process. Furthermore, trusts offer confidentiality, as they are not subjected to public records, unlike wills, which require filing with the probate court.

Types of Trusts That Can Help Avoid Probate

Several types of trusts can help avoid probate in New Jersey. Here are some examples:

Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable living trust remains alterable or revocable by the grantor throughout their lifetime. Serving as the trustee, the grantor can administer the trust’s assets. Upon the grantor’s demise, assets within the trust smoothly transition to the beneficiaries, evading probate. Moreover, this trust type aids in incapacity planning, as a designated successor trustee can assume control should the grantor become unable to manage their affairs.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed or revoked once it’s created. The grantor transfers assets to the trust, which the trustee administers for the beneficiaries’ benefit. Upon the grantor’s demise, assets within the trust seamlessly transfer to the beneficiaries, bypassing probate. Irrevocable trusts are practical tools for tax planning, facilitating the removal of assets from the grantor’s estate and potentially diminishing estate tax liabilities.

Charitable Trusts

Charitable trusts benefit a charitable organization or purpose. They can help decrease estate taxes by removing assets from the grantor’s estate. Additionally, charitable trusts can provide income to the grantor or their beneficiaries during their lifetime, with the remainder passing to the charity after their death.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust is customized to meet the needs of a disabled beneficiary while safeguarding their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid or SSI. It facilitates covering expenses beyond government benefits, such as medical care, education, and recreational activities.

Testamentary Trusts

A testamentary trust is established through a will and becomes effective upon the grantor’s demise. While the assets within the trust undergo probate, it offers advantages, including asset protection, tax planning, and management of asset distribution to beneficiaries according to the grantor’s wishes.

Choosing the Right Trust for Your Needs

Choosing the right trust depends on several factors, such as your goals, the size of your estate, and your family situation. Seeking guidance from an estate planning attorney, such as the NJ Executor is crucial as they can assist you in selecting the most suitable trust for your needs.

Here are some considerations when choosing a trust:


What are your goals for creating a trust? Do you want to avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, provide for your family, protect your assets, or accomplish other objectives?

Size of Estate

What is the size of your estate? If your estate is large, consider an irrevocable trust to remove assets from your taxable estate.

Family Situation

What is your family situation? Do you have minor children, disabled beneficiaries, or other exceptional circumstances that require special planning?

Advantages of Using Trusts to Avoid Probate

There are several advantages to using trusts to avoid probate, including:

Time Savings

Probate can be time-consuming, taking months or years to complete. Trusts can bypass probate and distribute assets to the beneficiaries much faster.

Cost Savings

Probate often entails significant expenses, encompassing court, legal, and other expenditures. Trusts offer a cost-saving alternative by circumventing probate and its accompanying financial burdens.


Probate is a public process; the estate details are available for public records. Trusts are private arrangements and do not require public disclosure.


Trusts allow the grantor to maintain control over the distribution of their assets, even after their death. This is significant for blended families, second marriages, or other intricate family dynamics.

Asset Protection

Trusts can protect the beneficiaries, shielding their inheritance from creditors, lawsuits, or other claims.

Using Trusts to Avoid Probate in New Jersey

Disadvantages of Using Trusts to Avoid Probate

There are also some disadvantages to using trusts to avoid probate, including:

Cost When Establishing

Establishing a trust typically incurs higher costs than creating a will due to the additional legal complexities and ongoing upkeep.


Trusts can be complex legal arrangements, requiring careful drafting and management. They may require ongoing maintenance, such as funding, investment management, and distribution planning.

Loss of Control

Irrevocable trusts can result in losing control over the assets transferred to the trust. The grantor lacks the authority to alter or annul the trust, while the trustee holds discretion over the administration and allocation of assets.

Tax Implications

Trusts may have tax considerations, including income taxes, estate taxes, and gift taxes. Consulting with a tax expert is imperative to comprehend the tax ramifications of establishing a trust.

Secure Your Legacy: Navigate Probate with Trusts in New Jersey

Probate can be lengthy and costly in New Jersey. However, establishing a trust can be an effective means of circumventing probate while also offering additional advantages like privacy and incapacity planning. Several types of trusts can help avoid probate, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and charitable trusts. If you’re contemplating establishing a trust, seeking guidance from a seasoned estate planning attorney is imperative. 

Their proficiency can aid you in choosing the optimal trust type that aligns precisely with your needs.

Contact NJ Executor for Assistance or Services

If you need assistance or services related to probate or trusts in New Jersey, contact the NJ Executor. Our proficient attorneys are adept at crafting personalized estate plans custom to your objectives and requirements. Additionally, we provide comprehensive assistance in managing trusts and estates. Our estate planning services encompass wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advanced directives, and other essential facets.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest