Forbes’ recent article entitled “Do You Need A Trust? 8 Important Goals A Trust Can Help You Achieve” discusses eight ways a trust can help you achieve specific legacy planning goals. The first step is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Everybody needs a will, but not everyone requires a trust. A trust provides greater flexibility and control over how your property and assets are distributed. Many people create a trust to avoid probate. As a result, it’s faster and easier for your named trustee(s) to distribute your assets to your heirs. There are a many different types of trusts with advantages and disadvantages. Talk about what will be best for you with your estate planning attorney.
- No probate. This process can take months or more to complete, and it can be very expensive. A trust is designed to settle your estate in a timely and relatively inexpensive manner.
- Privacy and confidentiality. Probate is public, so your will and other private financial and business info is available to everyone. However, a trust maintains privacy and confidentiality.
- Protection for beneficiaries. A trust can shield beneficiaries from lawsuits, creditors, or divorce. A trust can also protect the interests of a minor, by including direction for when distributions are made.
- Provide for children with special needs. This type of trust provides for the health care and personal needs of a minor child or adult who has special needs and won’t impact their eligibility for Medicaid benefits.
- Flexibility. As the creator of the trust, you determine the terms of the trust, and can put restrictions on how trust assets are managed. For instance, the trust could state that assets may only be used by the beneficiary to purchase a home or to pay medical bills but may not be distributed directly to the beneficiary.
- Preserve family wealth. Divorce and remarriage can result in assets that were supposed to stay in the family wind up leaving with the ex-spouse. A trust can make certain that your estate is preserved for grandchildren.
- Family values. A trust can be a wonderful way to pass down family values concerning education, home ownership, land conservation, community service, religious beliefs and other topics.
- Lessening family conflict. Challenging a trust is difficult and costly. Having a trust in place that clearly articulates your wishes for your family, reduces the potential for misunderstanding.
Whether you have a trust in place or are thinking about creating one, it’s important to meet regularly with your estate planning attorney to be certain your strategy and estate planning documents reflect any new state and federal tax laws, as well as any changes in your goals and circumstances.