Do I need a Trust? Estate Planning & Probate

Will and Trust

Will and Trusts“Do I need a Trust?” This is a question frequently asked of by many Estate Planning prospective clients; however it is a difficult one to answer without first understanding more about the individual circumstances and objectives. There are many different types of trusts: revocable, irrevocable, charitable, special needs, just to name a few. Various trusts can be used based on the purpose of planning. Following an initial fact-gathering consultation, we are able to advise clients on the type of trust that is right for them.

Despite what many people may think, trusts can be for anyone, regardless of the amount of assets they have. Most often, our clients desire to use a trust for traditional estate planning purposes and avoidance of probate. This can be done by utilizing a revocable living trust. By creating a revocable living trust and funding it with assets during a client’s lifetime, we can streamline the trust and estate administration process so that the Successor Trustee, and ultimately, the beneficiaries can have quicker access to funds following an individual’s death and avoid involvement of the courts. Additionally, if necessary, taxes can be planned for and minimized through the use of Trust planning.

The key to trust planning is making sure that a revocable living trust is properly funded. Trusts are only valuable tools to the extent that they are funded. Funding involves transferring assets to the trust by deed for real estate and by contacting banks and brokerages to rename accounts to the name of the Trust. This part of planning is frequently overlooked and assets not funded to the trust often end up in probate. During our planning process, we provide a trust funding conference so that clients walk away with a “to-do” list of items and complete instructions on how to fund their trusts properly. We also provide follow up assistance to make sure the funding has taken place.

In the event a trust is not fully funded, we include a Pour-over Will for our clients so that assets not placed in the Trust during their lifetime will be poured into the Trust, through the probate process, following death.

If you would like to discuss whether a Trust is right for you, please contact us for a consultation.

Elaine N. McGinnis. Esq.

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