Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Differences
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Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Differences

Revocable trusts and living trusts are individual terms that detail the same thing: a trust in which the conditions can be modified at any time. Irrevocable trusts detail a trust that cannot be altered after its creation without the permission of the beneficiaries.

A trust is an individual legal entity an individual creates up to manage their assets. Trusts are created throughout an individual’s lifetime to guarantee that assets are used in such a way in which the individual creating the trust considers appropriate. After assets are placed inside a trust, a 3rd party, named a trustee, manages them. The trustee establishes how the assets are invested and to who they are allocated to when the owner of the trust passes away, though a trustee is required to manage the trust according to the guidelines detailed when the trust was created.

It is not uncommon for a wealthy individual to utilize a trust instead of a will for their estate plan and for specifying what will happen to their wealth upon their passing. Trusts are also a way to decrease tax responsibilities and avoid assets going through probate.

Key Takeaways

Revocable, or living, trusts can be altered following their creation.

Irrevocable trusts cannot be altered following their creation, or at least they are very challenging to alter.

An irrevocable trust offers tax reduction benefits that revocable trusts will not.

Revocable Trust (Living Trust)

The 2 primary kinds of trusts are revocable trusts, also called a revocable living trust or basically a living trust, and irrevocable trusts. The owner of a revocable trust can change its conditions anytime they wish. They are able take-out beneficiaries, name new ones, and modify conditions as to how assets inside the trust are administered.

Given the adaptability of revocable or living trusts on the contrary with the inflexibility of irrevocable trusts, it would seem every trust needs to be revocable. The reasoning they aren’t is because revocable trusts come with a couple of primary disadvantages.

Since the owner maintains such a degree of control over a revocable trust, the assets they place into it are not protected from creditors the way they would be in irrevocable trusts. If they get sued, the trust assets could be systematically liquidated to fulfill any judgment set forth. Should the owner of a revocable trust pass away, the assets inside the trust are also going to be subject to both state and federal estate tax.

Irrevocable Trust

The conditions of an irrevocable trust, on the other hand, are uncompromising once it is signed. Apart from extremely rare circumstances, no alterations can be made to an irrevocable trust.

The benefactor, having moved assets into the trust, effectively removes all ownership rights to the assets and, largely, all management.

The primary reason to opt for an irrevocable trust arrangement is for tax reasons. Irrevocable trusts take out the assets from the benefactor’s taxable estate, which means they aren’t subjected to estate tax following their passing, and it also frees the benefactor of tax responsibilities for any income gained from the assets. Irrevocable trusts can be challenging to create and require the assistance of a qualified lawyer.



  1. DePersio, G. (2021, September 8). Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Trust: What’s the difference? Investopedia. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

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