What is an Irrevocable Trust

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

An irrevocable trust is a legal arrangement through which a grantor permanently transfers assets to a trust, relinquishing control over them and appointing a trustee to manage the assets for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries.

Once established, the terms of an irrevocable trust generally cannot be modified, amended, or terminated without the consent of the trust’s beneficiaries, making it a powerful tool for estate planning, asset protection, and tax benefits.

The assets placed into the trust are removed from the grantor’s taxable estate, potentially shielding them from estate taxes and creditors while also providing for the beneficiaries’ future financial needs according to the trust’s stipulations.

The pros and cons of irrevocable trusts:


  • Estate Tax Reduction: Assets transferred into the trust are no longer considered part of the grantor’s estate, potentially reducing estate taxes upon their death.
  • Asset Protection: Assets in the trust are generally protected from creditors and legal judgments against the grantor.
  • Government Benefit Preservation: Beneficiaries may still be eligible for government benefits, as assets in the trust may not be counted as personal assets.
  • Avoidance of Probate: The trust’s assets can be distributed to beneficiaries without going through the probate process, which can be costly and time-consuming.


  • Loss of Control: Once the trust is established, the grantor cannot change its terms or reclaim the assets.
  • Initial and Ongoing Costs: Setting up an irrevocable trust can be expensive and complex, and there may be ongoing administrative costs.
  • Potential Tax Consequences: Depending on the structure, the income generated by the trust may be taxed at higher rates, and the grantor may be subject to gift taxes upon transferring assets into the trust.
  • Inflexibility: Life circumstances change, but an irrevocable trust typically cannot adapt to these changes due to its permanent nature.
Is an Irrevocable Trust right for you?

When deciding if an irrevocable trust is suitable for your estate planning needs, consider the following aspects:

Understanding Your Goals:

  • Estate Planning: If you seek to reduce your taxable estate and potentially minimize estate taxes, an irrevocable trust could be beneficial.
  • Asset Protection: If protecting your assets from creditors or legal judgments is a priority, an irrevocable trust offers a robust solution.
  • Charitable Intentions: If you aim to leave a legacy through charitable giving, an irrevocable trust can facilitate this in a tax-efficient manner.

Assessing the Implications:

  • Loss of Control: Are you comfortable with the idea of relinquishing control over the assets you place into the trust?
  • Long-Term Planning: Is your financial plan stable enough to commit to the irrevocable nature of this trust?
  • Beneficiary Considerations: Do you have clear intentions about who your beneficiaries are and how you want the trust to benefit them?

Understanding the Responsibilities:

  • Trustee Selection: Do you have a reliable and trustworthy individual or institution in mind to act as the trustee?
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Are the costs associated with setting up and maintaining an irrevocable trust justified by the benefits you and your beneficiaries will receive?

Legal and Tax Advice:

  • It’s imperative to seek advice from legal and tax professionals to understand the full ramifications of transferring assets into an irrevocable trust, as well as the ongoing tax obligations for you and your beneficiaries.

Personal Circumstances:

  • Family Dynamics: Consider how creating an irrevocable trust will impact your family dynamics and whether it aligns with your intentions for your legacy.
  • Financial Stability: Ensure that your current and future financial needs will be met without the assets you are considering placing in the trust.

An irrevocable trust can be a powerful tool, but it’s not for everyone. It requires careful consideration of your financial situation, goals, and the needs of your beneficiaries. A consultation with an estate planning attorney can provide personalized advice and help determine if an irrevocable trust is right for you.


What is an irrevocable trust?
An irrevocable trust is a trust that, once created, cannot be altered, amended, or revoked by the grantor. The grantor effectively removes all rights of ownership to the assets placed within the trust.

Why would someone set up an irrevocable trust?
Individuals often set up irrevocable trusts for estate tax considerations, asset protection, charitable giving, or to create a legacy for future generations while also potentially qualifying for certain government benefits.

What happens to the assets in an irrevocable trust?
Assets placed in an irrevocable trust are managed by a trustee for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries according to the terms set out in the trust agreement.

Can an irrevocable trust be changed or revoked?
Generally, an irrevocable trust cannot be changed or revoked once it has been established. However, in some jurisdictions, changes can be made with the consent of all beneficiaries or through a legal process.

Who can be a trustee of an irrevocable trust?
A trustee can be an individual, a group of individuals, or a professional entity such as a bank or trust company. The key requirement is that the trustee must act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Are assets in an irrevocable trust protected from creditors?
Yes, in most cases, assets in an irrevocable trust are protected from the grantor’s creditors because the grantor no longer legally owns the assets.

How does an irrevocable trust work after the grantor’s death?
Upon the grantor’s death, the trust operates according to the terms set out in the trust agreement. The trustee will manage and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries as specified.

Can an irrevocable trust be contested?
While irrevocable trusts are generally strong against contests, they can still be contested on certain grounds such as fraud, undue influence, or lack of capacity at the time of the trust’s creation.

Are there different types of irrevocable trusts?
Yes, there are several types, including life insurance trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, and bypass trusts, each serving different estate planning objectives.

What happens to the assets in an irrevocable trust during the grantor’s lifetime?
The assets are controlled by the trustee, and any income or benefits are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the trust’s terms, which may or may not include the grantor, depending on the trust’s design.

Contact Battlefront Legal

Christopher R. Harrison, Esq is a registered attorney in the state of Nevada who stands out as a highly creative trust attorney who is dedicated to tailoring a trust that perfectly aligns with your unique requirements. His approach to estate planning is both innovative and client-focused, ensuring that your trust is crafted to serve your needs effectively. 

If you’re looking to establish a trust that is as unique as your estate, reach out to Christopher Harrison. Call him today at (775) 539-0000 or click here to start the conversation about securing your legacy.