Washington estate planning tools often focus on trusts as part of the plan. A trust is a way for an individual to distribute property by transferring its benefits and obligations to different people. When a trust is created, the owner or "trustor" or "grantor" transfers the legal ownership to a person, a "trustee," to manage for the benefit of another person, the "beneficiary." The trustee is responsible for acting in the best interest of the beneficiary.
The trusts can be either a testamentary trust or a living trust. A testamentary trust begins when the grantor dies and allows for the grantor to specify conditions for the receipt of the benefits and perhaps to spread payments out over a period of time. A living trust can start when the grantor is still alive. These are often used to help avoid probate as the assets can be distributed before the grantor dies. Within the living trust umbrella, there are revocable and irrevocable trusts.