Comparing Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

Trusts are an essential tool in estate planning, allowing individuals to protect and manage their assets for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones. When setting up a trust, one of the key decisions to make is whether to establish a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. Understanding the differences between these two types of trusts is crucial in order to make an informed choice that aligns with your specific goals and circumstances. Let’s delve into the characteristics and distinctions of revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.

Revocable Trust

A revocable trust, often referred to as a living trust or inter vivos trust, is a legal arrangement in which the grantor transfers their assets into the trust while retaining the ability to modify, amend, or revoke the trust during their lifetime. This type of trust provides flexibility and control to the grantor. They can act as both the grantor and trustee, managing the trust assets and making changes as they see fit.

One of the primary advantages of a revocable trust is that it allows for seamless management of assets in the event of the grantor’s incapacity or death. Since the trust is revocable, the grantor can appoint a successor trustee who will seamlessly step in and manage the trust affairs without the need for probate court involvement. Revocable trusts also offer privacy since the trust document does not become public record upon the grantor’s death.

However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind with revocable trusts. Firstly, although the trust assets are protected from probate, they are still considered part of the grantor’s estate for estate tax purposes. Secondly, since the grantor retains control over the assets, they are vulnerable to creditors and legal judgments against the grantor.

Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust, as the name suggests, is a trust that cannot be modified, amended, or revoked once it is established, except under limited circumstances and with the consent of all beneficiaries. Once the grantor transfers assets into an irrevocable trust, they relinquish control and ownership of those assets. The trust becomes a separate legal entity with its own tax identification number.

One of the primary advantages of an irrevocable trust is its ability to provide significant asset protection. Since the grantor no longer owns the assets in the trust, they are shielded from creditors, lawsuits, and estate taxes. Irrevocable trusts are commonly used for Medicaid planning, protecting assets from long-term care costs, and minimizing estate tax liability.

While the loss of control over assets may be seen as a disadvantage, it is also a benefit in certain situations. By removing assets from one’s estate, the grantor may be able to reduce their taxable estate, ultimately benefiting their heirs. Irrevocable trusts also offer a level of certainty and protection that can be appealing to individuals who want to ensure their assets are safeguarded for specific purposes, such as providing for a special needs child or preserving family wealth for future generations.

Choosing Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

When deciding between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust, it is crucial to consider your personal goals and circumstances. Some key factors to consider include asset protection, estate tax planning, control over assets, and the need for flexibility.

If you prioritize control and flexibility and want to maintain the ability to modify or revoke the trust, a revocable trust may be the preferred option. On the other hand, if asset protection, estate tax planning, and long-term preservation of wealth are your primary concerns, an irrevocable trust may better align with your objectives.

It’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can assess your individual situation, explain the intricacies of each trust type, and help you make an informed decision. Remember, estate planning is a complex area of law, and professional guidance is crucial to ensure your wishes are properly addressed and your assets are protected in the best possible manner.


the choice between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust depends on your unique goals and circumstances. Each type of trust offers distinct advantages and considerations. By understanding the differences between the two and seeking expert advice, you can create an estate plan that effectively meets your needs and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Video Transcript

What is the difference between a revocable trust and irrevocable trust? Well, let’s break this apart. A trust is essentially a fictional legal entity that is operated by somebody for the benefit of somebody. It is not registered like an LLC or a corporation, but it is an entity under the law. And there are certain rules, and somebody has appointed as the manager, we call them a trustee. And somebody gets the benefit of the trust. We call them beneficiary.

What is a Revocable Trust?

That is a trust that can be set up by someone, we call them the grantor, and it can be changed by that same person. So, for example, if I set up a trust and it says I have the right to change it at any time, and It is written right in there. That is what is called revocable. I can change it; I can revoke it. I can do whatever I want.

What is Irrevocable Trust?

Irrevocable means you can’t change it. So if I set up an irrevocable trust, that means once It is there, I can’t change it. It is stuck for life. Most people, for estate planning purposes, set up a revocable trust because they want the right to change it over time.

As they get older and as their circumstances change, or as the relationships change, they might want to change who is managing the trust and what happens with their assets in the trust. But there are definitely circumstances where it makes sense to have an irrevocable trust.

That is, for example, where the law requires it. Another example is where you want to protect whatever assets are in there that even somebody who steps into your own shoes could not change the trust because you don’t have the authority to change the trust. So somebody in your own shoes can’t change the trust. Irrevocable trusts are often used to protect assets from future creditors who might sue you, and they might be able to take everything you own, but they can’t take what you put in an irrevocable trust.

What’s Their Difference?

A revocable trust can be changed by you, usually at any time, and it can be wiped out. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed by you, which means once you put it in place, it is locked in. It is permanent.


All right. That does it for today. I would love to know if you find this helpful. And by the way, if you have other questions, feel free to add them in the comment section below. We will grab those and use those for future live sessions. You can also submit questions by email or using the form in the description below.

I am Aaron Hall, an attorney for business owners and entrepreneurial companies. This has been an educational broadcast. As always, all these issues I encourage you to use as topics to discuss with your attorney, not as a replacement for an attorney. This is educational information to empower you to avoid problems, establish a great company and hopefully have a better life You can find more about me at