A living trust is not the same as a will, but it is a legal document that partially substitutes for a will. When you set up a living trust, you put certain of your assets into a trust that someone (you usually designate yourself) administers during your lifetime, with the assets then transferring to your beneficiaries when you die. So you retain control of your assets during your life, even though they are in a trust.
You can then also name a successor trustee to manage the trust if you should become incapacitated. That party would still be obligated to administer the trust for your benefit, according to your wishes (previously stated if you are no longer competent).
The successor trustee is a particularly important aspect of a living trust. As long as you’re competent, you’re going to be calling the shots anyway, so there’s not much difference between having your assets in a living trust or not. However, when you’re incapacitated, it makes a big difference to have a living trust with a successor trustee, because otherwise there would be no one to administer your assets to your benefit. Everything would be in limbo.
The living trust also serves much of the purpose of a will. Upon your death, your assets can be transferred according to your wishes by the trustee without having to go through probate. It does not completely substitute for a will, though, in that it’s unlikely you’ll have had a chance to put every single asset you have in the living trust, since those are fluctuating all the time. So whatever is not in your living trust will indeed have to go through probate if you do not also have a will.
Living trusts are generally revocable, meaning you retain the right to amend or revoke a living trust at any time. There also exist, though, irrevocable living trusts, which have different legal and tax implications.
There are plenty of forms for living trusts available online. Here’s a good example of a quite simple form from the ‘Lectric Law Library. At Legal Forms, you will find a more elaborate set of living trust forms, including amendment forms, revocation forms, etc.
But you have to be careful doing it yourself online like that (or using slickly marketed non-lawyers who bill themselves as “trust specialists” or “certified estate planners”). The laws concerning living trusts can get quite complicated, and they vary from state to state, with different forms being appropriate for different states. It is strongly recommended that if you are interested in setting up a living trust, you consult with a lawyer or a financial advisor you are sure has expertise in this area.
Also keep in mind that just by filling out the necessary legal forms and setting up the trust, you’re not done. At that point, your trust exists but it’s empty. The actual transfer of assets into the trust is a separate stage in the process.