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Creating an estate plan? Consider creating a trust

When people think of estate plans, they often think only of wills. Of course, wills can be a critical element in any estate plan, but they are not the only tool available.

People also establish trusts as part of an estate plan. Trusts are useful for a variety of reasons, from helping people avoid probate to minimizing tax payments. If you are interested in creating a trust, there are a few steps you will want to sure you take.

  1. Find the right kind of trust. There are a number of different types of trusts. Depending on your goals and what you want a trust to do, you might consider living trusts, special needs trusts, charitable trusts, or irrevocable trusts. There are benefits and limitations for each, so it is crucial to examine the options closely.
  2. Fund your trust. This means that you need to move assets and/or property into the trust. You will have to change ownership of the assets and property and put them in the trust's name, not yours. If you don't do this, your assets can still go through probate and any fees you may have been trying to avoid can still be paid.
  3. Set limitations, if necessary. Depending on the type of trust you have, limitations will be crucial. For instance, if you want to ensure the funds are available for as long as possible, you might stagger payouts. You might also want to make distribution contingent on certain task completion by a beneficiary, like graduation college. 

These basic first steps can get you to a place where you are confident that you are protecting your assets and loved ones.

However, there are many complications and questions that can arise when it comes to trust establishment, management and distribution so it is wise to have guidance and support throughout this process. An estate planning attorney is one person who can be especially helpful in explaining your options, guiding you through the legal process and ensuring your assets are protected.

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