In many circumstances, you might have additional desires or unique circumstances that can’t be sufficiently addressed with a simple will. These could include owning property out of state, concerns about incapacity, desire for privacy, high net worth, or beneficiaries with special needs. In these situations, a trust might provide a better option.
To understand some basic trust terminology, the grantor or settlor is the person – possibly you – who creates the trust and provides it with some initial funding. The trustee is the person or company who controls the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In some instances, the same person might serve as all three parties. This can change over time.
As opposed to a will, a trust is its own legal entity. Whereas a will is mainly an instruction list for the distribution of your assets, a trust offers much greater control and flexibility for asset distribution. Because it is its own legal entity, a major benefit of a trust is that it can own property. Therefore, any assets owned by the trust at the grantor’s death aren’t subject to probate. This allows beneficiaries to gain control of the assets almost immediately and can save significant time and money – including court costs, lawyer fees, and taxes – upon the transfer of those assets.
Trusts offer an incredible level of control over how and when funds may be distributed. They also offer protection for your legacy and safekeeping of assets that can support and provide for loved ones for years to come.
Types of Trusts
Trusts may be established during your life but not all trusts become effective immediately. Trusts come in many shapes and sizes; here are a few common trust distinctions.
Living Trust vs. Testamentary Trust
A living trust, or inter vivos trust, is established by the grantor to go into affect immediately upon signing; in other words, while the grantor is still alive. In the alternative, a testamentary trust is set up through a will and goes into affect once the grantor has died.
Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Trust
Revocable trusts allow you to maintain ownership and control of the assets during your lifetime. If at any time you decide your trust is not the best solution in your estate plan, you can revoke the trust. This gives you the option to change ownership, control assets, and add or remove beneficiaries. Irrevocable trusts give ownership and control of your property to your trustees, limiting your rights to make future changes.
Additional categories of trusts include Marital Trusts, Charitable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc. It’s never too early to establish your trust. Ready to begin? Contact Asurest to start the process.
This is one of the most common objections I hear to starting an estate plan and, to be honest, one of my least favorite to address. Not because there aren’t several very good reasons to have an estate plan regardless of your asset level (which I’ll discuss) but...
Guardian vs. Trustee: Can a family member be both?
The short answer is yes, it’s certainly possible, a family member can be both guardian and trustee. In fact, that’s presumably what you’ve been doing while raising them – protecting and caring for them like a Guardian, but also controlling finances and expenditures like a Trustee. In many cases, nominating one person or couple to serve as your child’s Guardian and Trustee will simplify the process. It’s a rare combination (for reasons that will soon become clear) but there are certainly individuals who could excel in both roles.