A "living trust" is a trust which is funded with assets and which can be amended and revoked by the person creating the trust. The person creating the trust, often called the "settlor" or the "grantor," typically retains all the benefits to the property placed into the trust. The grantor can also be the trustee in Ohio, although the grantor's spouse or a trust company also often serves as trustee. The terms of a "living trust" are established in a written agreement signed by the grantor and the trustee. A "living trust" can be funded with bank accounts, stocks and bonds, a home and other assets. The terms of the "living trust" should provide for the disposition of the property in the trust both during the life and following the death of the grantor.
A "living trust" may have many purposes. A common goal is to avoid "probate." Assets within a "living trust" will generally not be subject to the jurisdiction of the probate court, either while the grantor is living or following the grantor's death. Assets owned in individual name and not contractually payable on death will generally be subject to probate.
When an Ohio resident dies owning probate property, a legal proceeding is begun (1) to determine the last valid will of the decedent, if any, (2) to determine the nature, extent and value of the decedent's assets, (3) to establish the valid debts of the decedent and (4) to establish the method of distribution of the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent after payment of applicable debts, taxes and expenses. This proceeding is known as probate. A more detailed explanation of the probate process is available in the publication "What you should know about ... Probate", published by the Ohio State Bar Association.