This guide explores the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts under New York State law.

Whether you need one or both depends on your unique circumstances.

Understanding Revocable Trusts

Think of a revocable trust as a flexible tool in estate planning, similar to a well-tailored suit that adapts to your needs. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Control and Flexibility:
    • Adjustable: You can modify or revoke the trust anytime. 
    • Personal Financial Roadmap: Allows adjustments as circumstances change. This gives you the option to change the beneficiaries, successor Trustees, and distribution. 
  • Advantages:
    • Probate Avoidance: Avoids the probate process, saving time and costs.  The probate process in New York can last for years, costing tens of thousands of dollars. 
    • Ease of Modification: Offers flexibility to change terms.
  • Limitations:
    • Creditor Vulnerability: Assets held by a Revocable Trust may still be pursued by creditors.
    • Limited Tax Efficiency: Revocable Trust does not protect your assets from estate taxes. 

Exploring Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust is like a fortified stronghold offering unparalleled asset protection. Here’s a closer look:

  • Asset Protection:
    • Impenetrable Armor: Shields assets from BOTH creditors and estate taxes.
    • Vault-Like Security: Protects your financial legacy.
  • Control:
    • Relinquished Control: You cannot make changes unilaterally once assets are transferred.

Comparing Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

Here’s a quick comparison of the key differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts:

FeatureRevocable TrustsIrrevocable Trusts
FlexibilityUnparalleled adaptability, modifiable anytimeFixed terms, assets locked for beneficiaries
ControlFull control over assetsTrustee manages assets according to trust terms
Probate AvoidanceBypasses probate, saving time and costsAlso bypasses probate for seamless asset transfer
Creditor ProtectionLimited protection, assets vulnerable to claimsRobust protection, assets shielded from creditors
Estate Tax MigrationSome opportunities, may need additional strategiesEffective mitigation, assets excluded from taxable estate
DurationRevocable during settlor’s lifetime, irrevocable at deathGenerally irrevocable, with limited modification provisions


  • Revocable Trust:
    • Ideal for those seeking flexibility and control.
    • Allows adjustments as needed during your lifetime.
  • Irrevocable Trust:
    • Suited for those prioritizing asset protection and estate tax planning.
    • Offers enhanced security and tax benefits, but less flexibility.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing between these trusts depends on your priorities: flexibility versus security.

  • Revocable Trust:
    • Offers adaptability, like a custom-tailored suit.
  • Irrevocable Trust:
    • Provides steadfast protection, like a fortress for your assets.

For personalized advice, contact Sverdlov Law at 212-709-8112. We’ll help determine the best trust option for your estate plan.