If you haven’t considered using a trust as part of your estate plan, why not?
While most people know that they need a will (even if they don’t have one), few people realize just how useful a trust can be for their goals — especially if they want to protect their assets and ensure a smooth transition of wealth to the next generation.
This is where trusts come in.
Trusts can help your estate neatly avoid probate — which also reduces the tax burden and fees that your heirs will face. A trust can also keep your family affairs private because — unlike wills — they are not public records. Trusts can also be designed so that they are revocable (and, therefore, able to be reclaimed by the grantor) or irrevocable (which can protect the assets inside them from creditors.) That makes a trust useful even while you’re still living.
Trusts also offer you a variety of ways to ensure that the assets they hold are used wisely. Fixed trusts, for example, can be created in a way that only allows assets to be distributed at certain times — like on your heir’s 21st, 25th and 30th birthdays — to prevent the funds from being depleted too soon. Discretionary trusts, on the other hand, might be more useful if you want the trustee to make sure that your heir has everything he or she needs as situations arise (which might be better if your heir has chronic medical issues or other problems).
If you thought that trusts were only for the ultra-wealthy, it may be time to investigate more about how trusts can benefit you and your estate.