When planning for your future, one of the primary concerns is how to preserve your estate. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can utilize various tools to transfer your assets to the important people in your life. Depending on your situation, a trust may be the best option. At Halpin Law Firm, not only can we explain the various types and uses for this arrangement, but also we can assist you in establishing one. Here’s what you need to know:
What is a trust?
Basically, it’s a legal agreement which results in one person or entity holding a specified property or amount of assets on behalf of another. It primarily exists to transfer your estate more seamlessly to the desired heirs, but it has several advantages. Parents often utilize this tool to provide for juvenile children (under the age of 18). By placing their assets in a trust, they can then name a trustee (such as the children’s guardian, or even a bank) who can control and distribute the assets in accordance with your wishes.
Why would you establish one?
Traditionally, having a trust as the intermediary allows for several different advantages. One of the primary benefits includes control, by setting up a plan for managing your assets in the event of poor health (with a living trust) or after your passing (with a testamentary trust). Not only can you name a trustee of your choice, but also you can leave detailed instructions for them to follow concerning the distribution of funds. Thus, if you want to allocate money specifically for your grandchild(ren) to go to college, then you could establish a Generation-Skipping Trust that can only be used for that purpose. While some types of trusts may perfectly align with your purpose (as in our example), others you’ll have to handcraft with the help of a lawyer.
Apart from this, having a trust also allows you to bypass probate. Probate is the legal term for essentially “proving” that a person’s will is/was legitimate. Normally, it has to be presented in a court of law and validated as an official public document. Therefore, if you believe your will may be contested, funneling your estate through a trust instead will avoid future legal complications amongst your heirs.
What do you need?
Well, the first thing is an experienced estate attorney. Depending on the type of trust you select, it can be a complex legal arrangement. So, not only can your lawyer help you decide which route to take, but also they can expertly create an agreement in accordance with your wishes. You also need trustee(s) to execute the terms of your trust, to your specifications. Although you may leave detailed instructions, you also want to choose a trustworthy person to fulfill this position. They can include friends, family members, associates, or even professionals (like a lawyer or a bank), but it helps if they have a firm understanding of the duties related to this position, along with some financial experience. After all, they can be a position to invest the trust to ensure income for the beneficiaries. If you wouldn’t trust the person with your money, you probably don’t want to name them as your trustee.
You’ll also need to name your beneficiaries. Whether these include family members, spouses, or even charitable organizations, this is the ultimate destination for your assets. Everything you’re doing is to allow your estate to pass through to these named people or entities, exactly as you intend. Name as many as you like, specify the splits, the timeline for the distributions, etc. Just be as descriptive as you can be when crafting this document. You can even choose whether or not the assets will pass beyond a beneficiary to his/her descendants—as long as you get it in writing.
At the Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A., we can help you with every aspect of your estate planning—including the creation of an appropriate trust. Allow our dedicated team to answer any questions you may have and provide for an exact plan for your assets. It’s never too early to start thinking about this, so give us a call today.