Everyone has heard that they need a will in order to make sure that the state doesn't decide where their assets go. Many people in Washington, DC use their will for this purpose, but instead of the will being the document that distributes property, it merely points to a trust that handles the actual distribution of a person's assets. There are many types of trusts, but a revocable living trust is a popular one.
The main reason for its popularity is that it can be changed during the lifetime of the person making the trust. Another reason these trusts are popular is that they can also be used to take care of the person making the trust and his or her assets should that person become incapacitated somehow. Another benefit of this type of trust is that while the grantor is alive, that person may also serve as the trustee of the trust.
The trustee is the one that manages the trust and its assets. Once all of a person's assets have been placed into the trust, the trustee handles any distributions to beneficiaries, which may also include the person making the trust, and ensures the assets in the trust are not squandered. Upon the death of the grantor of the trust, none of its assets will have to through probate since the trust will outlive the person that made it.
Understandably, few in Washington, DC enjoy thinking or talking about their own death or possible incapacity. However, it is a necessary process, especially if there are children or others that the person with the estate plan is responsible for taking care of day-to-day. Trusts can be an integral part of any estate plan, and people don't have to be rich to benefit from something like a revocable living trust.
Source: thespectrum.com, Five important estate planning documents, Dustin Schofield, Sept. 27, 2013