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Living Trusts and Creditor Protection

Living trusts, also known as revocable trusts or inter vivos trusts, are legal entities created to hold and manage assets during a person’s lifetime and distribute them upon death. As a Folsom estate planning lawyer, living trusts make up one of the most important areas of my practice. One common question related to living trusts is whether they offer protection from creditors. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Revocable Nature:

  • Living trusts are typically revocable, meaning the grantor (the person who creates the trust) can modify or revoke the trust during their lifetime. Since the grantor retains control and access to the trust assets, the assets are generally considered part of the grantor’s estate for creditor claims.

2. Creditor Access During Grantor’s Lifetime:

  • Creditors generally have access to the assets held in a revocable living trust during the grantor’s lifetime. If the grantor owes debts, creditors may seek repayment from the assets within the trust.

3. Irrevocable Trusts and Creditor Protection:

  • Irrevocable trusts, as opposed to revocable trusts, may offer more creditor protection. Once assets are transferred into an irrevocable trust, they are usually shielded from the grantor’s creditors, as the grantor no longer has direct control over the assets.

4. Spendthrift Provisions:

  • Some trusts, whether revocable or irrevocable, include spendthrift provisions. These provisions restrict the ability of beneficiaries to transfer their interests in the trust, protecting the assets from the claims of the beneficiaries’ creditors.

5. State Laws Vary:

  • Creditor protection afforded by trusts can vary significantly depending on state laws. Some states have stronger creditor protection laws for trusts than others. It’s important to consult with legal professionals familiar with the laws in your specific jurisdiction. In California, the creditor protection laws are fairly standard, whereas in certain states such as Alaska, the legal framework allows for greater protection for grantors in certain situations.

6. Fraudulent Transfer Laws:

  • Transferring assets into a trust with the intent to defraud creditors may be subject to fraudulent transfer laws. If a court determines that the transfer was made to avoid paying creditors, it may be set aside.

7. Asset Protection Trusts:

  • Some jurisdictions allow for the creation of specific types of trusts designed for asset protection purposes. These trusts, often called Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPTs), provide a level of protection against creditors.

8. Professional Advice:

  • Consult with legal and financial professionals to understand the specific creditor protection benefits and limitations of trusts in your jurisdiction. They can help you structure your trust in a way that aligns with your goals and provides the desired level of protection.


In summary, while living trusts may not provide robust creditor protection during the grantor’s lifetime, other types of trusts and specific legal provisions can offer varying degrees of protection. The effectiveness of these protections depends on the specific details of the trust, the applicable state laws, and the circumstances surrounding the creation and funding of the trust. Always seek advice from a qualified estate planning lawyer in Folsom when considering trust arrangements for asset protection purposes. If you have any other questions about living trusts and creditor protection, contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message

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