Complete Estate Planning: Trusts


Setting up a complete estate plan involves addressing what will happen to your assets and your stuff after you die. This means you may be executing a will, possibly establishing and funding a trust, and updating all of your beneficiary designations.


You have to create a plan for who gets your stuff after you die.


Many assets can have a beneficiary designation or joint owner (e.g, bank accounts, life insurance policies, real estate property, etc.). For other assets, you have two basic choices for transferring them after your death: a will or a trust. A will is the standard choice, but trusts are growing in popularity.


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 may seem confusing and complex, but they can be the right option for many families.


A revocable living trust offers many benefits. First, you can avoid probate and thus your assets 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. Second, a revocable living trust 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 because the trustee can manage trust assets for your benefit.


The most appealing advantage of a living trust is that assets placed in your revocable living trust avoid probate at your death.

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. Neither the will nor the revocable living trust, in and of itself, reduces estate taxes — though both can be drafted to do this. Whether a will or a revocable living trust is better for you depends on many personal factors.


You have the option of naming a trustee to help in case you can no longer manage your affairs.

You can name yourself as the trustee and retain the same control you had before you established the trust. You retain the right to revoke the trust and appoint and remove trustees. You can name another person (including a professional trustee) to manage the trust, and you can require the trustee to consult with you before buying or selling assets.


Determining if a trust is the right tool 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.  It is important for you to plan for your assets after you die. If you die without either a will or a living trust, state law controls the disposition of your property. Settling your estate likely will be more troublesome — and more costly.


The team at Hurley Elder Care Law is experienced and equipped to help lead families through these tough conversations as they work to create a complete estate plan. To learn more or to get started with your complete estate plan, contact Hurley Elder Care Law at (404) 843-0121 or through our website for a complimentary phone consultation.

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