by Estate Planning Attorney Patrick A. Metcalf
When you hear the words, “trust fund,” do you conjure up images of stately mansions and party yachts? A trust fund – or trust – is a great estate planning tool for many people with a wide range of incomes who want to accomplish a specific purpose with their money.
Simply put, a trust is just a vehicle used to transfer assets, and trusts are especially useful for parents of minor children as well as those who wish to spare their beneficiaries the hassle of going to Court in the event of their incapacity or death. And why would you want to keep your family out of court (known as avoiding probate)?
Perhaps you’d like to keep private the details of the assets you are leaving your heirs. Leaving assets via a will that must go through probate to go into effect makes your estate a matter of public record. A trust is a private document and distributes assets upon your death without the need for probate, which can tie up assets for a long period of time in court.
The court process can take longer than is necessary and keep your family from getting access to your assets as quickly as they want or need them.
If you have minor children, you need to create a trust to leave your assets to them since minors cannot inherit directly. You will want to name a trustee to manage those assets for your children. Even if your children are adults, a trust can help protect assets you leave for them from creditors, legal judgments, divorce, or even their poor money management habits.
You can even establish a trust for yourself in case you become incapacitated and cannot manage your own finances at some future time. The trust assets are managed by a successor trustee, which avoids the need for a court-appointed conservator if you become incapacitated.
Trusts are also wonderful tools for those who are members of a blended family. If you are remarried and have children from a previous marriage, you can provide for your current spouse while ensuring your assets pass to your children from another marriage using a by-pass trust.
This blog is not a legal advice. You should consult an experienced Estate Planning attorney help you with your estate planning process. It’s best to have an attorney review your background and your needs before you start your plan. You may not get the desired outcome if you do not pan properly.