How to Get Your Trust Right
Trusts are effective tools to include in your estate plan. They provide flexible and varied ways to ensure that your assets are distributed to your loves ones according to their needs and on your terms. Each type of trust has certain advantages and disadvantages, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you decide if creating a trust is right for your family. Keep in mind that a trust is only effective if it is set up properly:
Determine the type of trust(s) you need
The type of trust you decide to create depends on your financial circumstances and goals. Forms of trusts include:
- Revocable Living Trust. Avoids probate and specifies how assets should be managed and distributed in the event of your incapacity and death. Provisions may be included to preserve assets for the child of a previous marriage.
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. Removes the proceeds of life insurance from the estate for estate tax purposes
- Qualified Domestic Trust. Enables a noncitizen spouse to inherit and take advantage of the unlimited marital deduction
- Minor’s Trust. Assets are managed for a minor’s education and other needs until the person reaches adulthood
Transfer assets to your trust
Once your trust has been established, you must fund it. This involves transferring title to your assets so they are held in the name of the trust. This step is critical to the trust creation process, since anything left out of the trust may not be subject to its terms. Your estate planning attorney can assist you with this.
Choose your beneficiaries carefully
You may choose family, friends or charities as beneficiaries of your trust. You may also name alternates in case a beneficiary predeceases you. One of the advantages of using a trust is that your beneficiaries are not made public as they are for estates that are probated.
Name a successor trustee
Unless your trust is irrevocable, you may serve as the initial trustee. You should, however, name someone to manage and control the trust property when you are no longer able to do so. You should notify your successor trustees of the storage location of the original trust document.
A qualified Tampa Bay estate planning attorney can help you create the right trust for your needs.