This is the year for finally establishing a complete estate plan!
Part of your complete estate planning could include a trust. Some situations are best handled by a trust, but it’s not the right fit for everyone. In our practice we think it’s really important to use the correct tool for the job at hand. We also believe that you shouldn’t take a hammer to a thumbtack! So when is a trust a consideration?
Trusts can be used for a variety of reasons, one being to avoid probate.
All of your assets fall into one of three categories:
- They have a beneficiary designation (including assets held in a trust)
- They have a joint owner(s)
- They are only owned by you and have no beneficiary assigned to them.
If your assets are in a trust, you can name a beneficiary of those assets who will inherit them after your death. This process helps to avoid probate and is a preferred method for many. Because probate is time-consuming, potentially expensive and public, avoiding probate is a common estate planning goal. A revocable living trust acts as a will substitute, providing instructions for the management of your assets on your death and, if funded, during your life. You will still also need to have a short will, often referred to as a “pour over” will.
When you avoid probate, you avoid a hassle and keep your affairs private.
When your assets are held in a trust, they are not exposed to public record. Besides keeping your affairs private, this makes it more difficult for anyone to challenge the disposition of your estate.
Trusts help your loved ones avoid opening probate in multiple states. If you own property in Georgia and in another state or states, your heirs will likely have to go through the probate process in all of the states where you own property. Having your property be owned by a trust avoids this situation.
Trusts are becoming more popular for many families. Trusts are not just estate planning tools for the wealthy! In fact over the last few decades, people across all income brackets have used trusts to plan their estates and to avoid the costs and delays of probate. A trust is a separate legal entity that controls the assets you place into it.
Trusts can help you and your loved ones properly manage your assets. Trusts can serve as a vehicle for managing your financial assets if you become cognitively incapacitated or disabled. A properly drawn living trust avoids embarrassing conservatorship proceedings and related costs, and it offers greater protection and control than a durable power of attorney since the successor trustee can manage trust assets for your benefit.
Trusts are not as complicated as they seem. Once a trust is established, you title assets into it by changing the name of who owns the asset to the trust. These assets will still be for your own benefit. In most trusts, you can serve as trustee or select a professional trustee. You then create the terms of the trust, controlling who will be the back-up trustee if ever needed. You control how your assets can be used, how they can be distributed after your death, and other specific limits.
Trusts are not a DIY project!
Determining whether using a trust is the right vehicle for you is an important part of designing a complete estate plan. The Certified Elder Law Attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law can review your family’s situation and recommend a plan that will minimize many of the bureaucratic headaches for your survivors, ease the potential conflict among family members and maximize the assets that can be distributed to your heirs.
You can start this process with Hurley Elder Care Law today by contacting our office at (404) 843-0121 or through our website https://hurleylaw.wpengine.com/contacts/ for a complimentary phone consultation.
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