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Do I need a Trust?

Many people think Trusts are only for rich people; however they have a very important role in asset management and most importantly probate avoidance. A Trust accomplishes the same things that a Will accomplishes with many extra added benefits such as probate court avoidance and benefits during your life. A Will is always drafted along with a Trust, often described as a Pour-Over Will, which is in place in case an asset has not been deeded into the Trust. If the Trust has been properly funded, meaning all the assets have been titled into the Trust, then the Will would not need to be probated and Court can be avoided.

  • Beneficiaries: Similar to a Will you decide who you want to get your property, the difference with a Trust is there is a lot of flexibility with regard to the terms of how you distribute property and you can decide more specifically how you want your assets distributed.
  • Fiduciaries: Similar to an Executor, Trusts require Trustees, usually during life you are the Trustee and control your assets, but should you die or become incompetent a Successor Trustee can take care of your estate. It is important to think carefully about whom you choose for this role and consider aptitude for the task involved as well as how close that person lives.
  • Assets: Sometimes it makes sense to keep assets outside of the Trust if they are the type of asset that falls outside of probate, such as life insurance policies, but sometimes it makes sense to put those assets in the Trust in order to control how the money is distributed more carefully.
  • Minors: You may have grandchildren or children that could become beneficiaries, but you want someone else to be guardian of their bequest or gift, consider whether you want your Trustee to do all the work, or whether you want someone else to be in charge of any gifts to minors.
Sarah A. Paris