When it comes to planning for the future, understanding your estate planning options is crucial. In Arizona, as in other states, trusts are a cornerstone of effective estate planning. Trusts not only help you manage your assets during your lifetime but also ensure they are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. Two main types of trusts are available: revocable and irrevocable. Paula Hannah Law specializes in guiding Phoenix residents through the nuances of each, ensuring your estate plan meets your individual needs and goals.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is a flexible estate planning tool that allows you to retain control over your assets during your lifetime. You can alter, amend, or revoke the trust at any time. This flexibility makes it a popular choice for many Arizonans.

Key Benefits:

  • Control: You can name yourself as the trustee, maintaining control over the trust assets.
  • Avoidance of Probate: Assets in a revocable trust bypass the probate process, ensuring a smoother and faster transfer to your beneficiaries.
  • Privacy: Unlike wills, which become public record, revocable trusts keep your estate matters private.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

Contrary to a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust cannot be easily changed or revoked once it has been established. This type of trust requires you to relinquish control over the assets placed within it, which may seem daunting but comes with its own set of advantages.

Key Benefits:

  • Asset Protection: Assets in an irrevocable trust are generally protected from creditors and legal judgments.
  • Estate Tax Benefits: An irrevocable trust can help reduce estate taxes, as the assets in the trust are no longer considered part of your estate.
  • Eligibility for Government Benefits: By removing assets from your estate, an irrevocable trust may help you qualify for Medicaid and other government benefits.

Choosing the Right Trust for Your Estate Planning Needs in Arizona

Deciding between a revocable vs irrevocable trust depends on several factors, including your financial situation, estate planning goals, and need for control over your assets. At Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC, we understand that each individual’s needs are unique. We’re here to help you navigate these decisions, providing expert advice tailored to the Arizona legal landscape.

Understanding the Process and Costs of Establishing Trusts in Arizona

Estate planning through trusts is a strategic approach to manage and protect your assets, both during your lifetime and after. Establishing a trust in Arizona involves a series of steps designed to ensure your estate planning aligns with your unique goals and circumstances. At Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC, we specialize in creating tailored trust arrangements that reflect your individual needs. Here’s a focused look at the process and costs associated with setting up trusts, as part of your estate planning in Arizona.

Step One: The Initial Consultation

Our process begins with a complimentary initial consultation. This session is crucial for understanding the specific benefits of revocable vs irrevocable trusts under Arizona law and determining which fits your estate planning needs. We provide an overview of how trusts can be utilized in your estate plan, answer any preliminary questions, and outline a plan that considers your unique situation. Following this consultation, we quote a flat fee for the design, drafting, and implementation of your trust-based estate plan.

Step Two: The Design Meeting

The next step involves a detailed design meeting, where we gather comprehensive information about your estate, discuss your goals, and consider how best to structure your trust. This collaborative approach ensures that your trust is customized to provide for your loved ones, manage your assets according to your wishes, and offer any necessary protections against creditors or legal judgments.

Step Three: Review and Sign the Documents

Once your trust documents are drafted, we schedule a review meeting. This is where we explain the details of your trust, ensuring you understand the roles, responsibilities, and benefits of the trust arrangement. This meeting is also an opportunity to make any final adjustments before the documents are signed and the trust is officially established.

Step Four: Continuing Client Care

Establishing your trust is just the beginning of our relationship. We offer ongoing support and advice to ensure your trust operates as intended and remains aligned with your estate planning goals. This includes assistance with funding the trust, periodic reviews of the trust’s terms, and updates in response to changes in your life or the law.

What Does it Cost to Create a Trust in Arizona?

The cost of establishing a trust in Arizona varies based on the complexity of your estate and the specific type of trust you choose to create. Our flat fee, quoted after the initial consultation, covers the design, drafting, and implementation of your trust, providing transparency and predictability in your estate planning expenses. This fee reflects the personalized service and expertise required to create a trust that effectively manages and protects your assets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Trusts in Estate Planning

1. What is the difference between a revocable and an irrevocable trust?

A: A revocable trust allows you to maintain control over the assets within the trust, including the ability to alter or revoke the trust at any time. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, cannot be easily changed or revoked after it’s established, requiring you to relinquish control over the assets placed into it. Each type offers different benefits, including asset protection and potential tax advantages.

2. Why would I choose a trust over a will?

A: Trusts offer several advantages over wills, including avoiding probate, providing privacy, and potentially reducing estate taxes. Trusts also allow for more detailed control over the distribution of your assets and can offer protection to beneficiaries from creditors and legal judgments.

3. How does setting up a trust impact my taxes?

A: The impact of a trust on your taxes depends on the type of trust you choose. Revocable trusts typically do not change your tax situation, as you retain control over the assets and they are still considered part of your estate for tax purposes. Irrevocable trusts, however, can remove assets from your estate, potentially reducing estate taxes. It’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney in Arizona and a tax advisor to understand the specific tax implications.

4. Can I change my trust once it’s established?

A: If you have a revocable trust, you can change or revoke it at any time. However, irrevocable trusts are generally not changeable once they’ve been established. There are some exceptions and strategies for modifying an irrevocable trust under certain circumstances, but these require legal expertise to navigate.

5. How long does the process of setting up a trust take?

A: The time frame for setting up a trust can vary depending on the complexity of your estate and the specific details of the trust. After the initial consultation, the design and drafting process typically takes a few weeks to a month, followed by a review and signing meeting. The entire process from consultation to implementation can range from a month to several months.

6. What are the costs associated with setting up a trust?

A: The costs for setting up a trust depend on the complexity of your estate plan and the type of trust you wish to establish. At Paula Hannah Law, we provide a flat fee quote after the initial consultation that covers the design, drafting, and implementation of your trust. This fee is transparent and all-inclusive, ensuring you understand the investment involved in securing your estate planning needs.

7. How do I fund a trust?

A: Funding a trust involves transferring assets into the name of the trust. This can include real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, and personal property. The specific process for funding a trust varies based on the asset type, and it’s crucial to ensure all relevant assets are properly transferred to the trust to achieve your estate planning goals. Our team provides guidance and support throughout this process to ensure your trust is fully operational.

Case Study: Choosing a Revocable Trust for Flexibility and Control

Client Background:

John, a retired school teacher in Phoenix, AZ, sought to manage his estate proactively. He owned a primary residence, had a substantial retirement savings account, and was keen on ensuring his two adult children were well taken care of after his passing. However, John also wanted the flexibility to adjust his estate plan as his financial situation or family dynamics changed over time.

The Challenge:

John was concerned about the probate process and its impact on his children, including potential delays and public exposure of his estate’s details. He also expressed a desire to maintain control over his assets during his lifetime, with the ability to make changes to his estate plan as needed.

The Solution:

After a comprehensive consultation, Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC recommended a revocable trust as the most suitable option for John. This type of trust allowed him to:

  • Remain the trustee and retain complete control over his assets during his lifetime.
  • Avoid probate, facilitating a smoother and more private transfer of assets to his beneficiaries upon his death.
  • Retain the flexibility to amend or revoke the trust if his circumstances changed.


John moved forward with the revocable trust, transferring his home and retirement accounts into the trust’s name. He appreciated the peace of mind knowing his children would benefit from a streamlined asset transfer process without the need for probate. Over the years, he made several adjustments to the trust, reflecting changes in his financial situation and personal wishes, demonstrating the flexibility and control he desired from the outset.

Case Study: Selecting an Irrevocable Trust for Asset Protection and Estate Tax Benefits

Client Background:

Samantha, a successful entrepreneur in Phoenix, AZ, had accumulated significant wealth through her business ventures. She was concerned about estate taxes and the potential vulnerability of her assets to creditors or legal judgments. Samantha was also passionate about ensuring her estate would support her philanthropic goals and provide for her family’s future generations.

The Challenge:

Samantha needed a strategy that would protect her assets, minimize estate taxes, and ensure her wealth was distributed according to her specific wishes. She understood the importance of securing her estate but was initially unsure about relinquishing control of her assets.

The Solution:

Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC advised Samantha on the benefits of an irrevocable trust. This solution offered:

  • Protection of assets from creditors and legal judgments, ensuring her wealth was preserved for her beneficiaries and philanthropic endeavors.
  • Potential estate tax benefits, as the assets transferred into the irrevocable trust were no longer part of Samantha’s taxable estate.
  • A structured way to support her charitable interests and provide for her family in the long term, in line with her estate planning goals.


Samantha established an irrevocable trust, transferring a portion of her business assets and investments into the trust. This move effectively reduced her taxable estate and safeguarded the assets from external threats. The trust was structured to provide annual donations to her chosen charities and set up a generational wealth plan for her family, aligning with her desires to make a lasting impact.

How to Get Started

Trusts are a powerful tool in estate planning, offering flexibility, protection, and peace of mind. At Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC, we are committed to guiding you through each step of creating a trust that meets your needs and objectives. By understanding the process and associated costs, you can make informed decisions about how best to secure your legacy and provide for your loved ones. Contact us today to begin the conversation about your trust-based estate plan.