Articles Posted in Trusts

2.17.20A will and a trust are separate legal documents that typically share a common goal of facilitating a unified estate plan. While these two items ideally work in tandem, since they are separate documents, they sometimes run in conflict with one another–either accidentally or intentionally.

A revocable trust, commonly called a living trust, is created during the lifetime of the grantor. This type of trust can be changed at any time, while the grantor is still alive. Because revocable trusts become operative before the will takes effect at death, the trust takes priority over the will, if there is any discrepancy between the two when it comes to assets titled in the name of the trust or that designate the trust as the beneficiary (e.g., life insurance).

A recent Investopedia article asks “What Happens When a Will and a Revocable Trust Conflict?” The article explains that a trust is a separate entity from an individual. When the grantor or creator of a revocable trust dies, the assets in the trust are not part of the decedent grantor's probate process.

12.20.19Consumers often find themselves with investments with one company, insurance with another, a financial advisor with a third company and one or maybe more banks. Depending upon the asset level, it may make sense to put all of this under one roof.

Trust companies provide clients with a variety of services, so that they are all managed in one place, by one individual or one team of professionals. Trust companies manage trusts, trust funds and estates for individuals, businesses and other types of entities. They also provide investment, tax and estate planning services.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “Understanding How Top Trust Companies Operate,” gives us a high-level overview of the nature and function of trust companies, as well as the services they provide.

11.25.19Both of these deeds are used widely, but they are very different. Choosing the wrong one, could lead to a lot of legal headaches.

Deeds are the legal documents used when real estate properties are purchased, sold or transferred from one owner to another. The deed is used to transfer title or ownership from one person to another.

Bankrate explains in its recent article, “Quitclaim vs. warranty deed: What you need to know,” that a quitclaim deed is a deed that transfers the actual legal rights to a property (if any exist) that the grantor has to another person. That is without any representation, warranty, or guarantee. A quitclaim deed gives no guarantee of the title status of a property, any liens against it or any encumbrances. It really means that you get only what a grantor may have—nothing more. Therefore, if the grantor has nothing, you get nothing.

11.20.19Many instances of estate planning disasters start when well-meaning people try to use a simple solution for what is ultimately a complicated problem. It’s better for all concerned to meet with an estate planning attorney who can present strategies that will achieve goals, rather than attempt a do-it-yourself plan that creates more problems than it solves.

In one example of a do-it-yourself estate plan, a husband decides to use his inheritance to purchase the family home. His wife signs a quitclaim deed to him that puts the property into his living trust, on the condition that if he dies before she does, she is allowed to live in the home until death.

However, the living trust was never signed. So, what would happen to the property if the husband were to die before the wife?

4.8.19The last step of an estate plan is one that all too often gets forgotten. That’s too bad, because unless you retitle assets so that they are owned by the trusts created for the plan, means that all good planning could be worthless.

When you are done creating an estate plan, your estate planning attorney might give you a list of items that you need to take care of, including retitling or changing the ownership of things like bank accounts, brokerage accounts, shares of a privately owned business, real estate and other assets.

These assets must be put into the trust while you’re alive, to avoid probate or be distributed to the trust as a beneficiary upon your death.

7.24.19A trust is a complex document, but taking the time to read it a few times will prove enlightening. If you have questions, call your estate planning attorney, so they can help clarify anything you don’t understand.

Attorneys do try to simplify documents when they can, so that clients will have a better understanding of what goes into their estate plans. However, according to a recent article from Forbes, “A Beginner's Guide To Reading A Trust,” there’s still enough legal language in trusts that they can sometimes be confusing. Here are some basics about trusts.

First, familiarize yourself with the terms. There are basic terms of the trust that you’ll need to know. Most of this can be found on its first page, such as the person who created the trust. He or she is frequently referred to as the donor, grantor or settlor. It is also necessary to identify the trustee, who will hold the trust assets and administer them for the benefit of the beneficiaries, and any successor trustees.

7.11.19Think of trusts like the Swiss army knives of estate planning. There are many different trusts that are used to accomplish many different tasks.

At its essence, a trust is a legal document that permits a third party, called the trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary, that is, the trust must put the beneficiary’s needs first. The trust document is drafted to address issues like how and when assets pass to the beneficiaries, what conditions must be met for the beneficiaries to receive assets, etc.

Because trusts usually avoid probate, the beneficiaries can get access to these assets more quickly than they might if the assets were transferred using a will. If it’s an irrevocable trust, it may not be considered part of the taxable estate, which means there will be fewer taxes due at your death.

3.18.19You’ve heard the expression “trust fund babies.” However, trusts are not just for the wealthy. They have a number of uses in estate planning and can be helpful at any asset level.

The reality of our own mortality keeps some of us up at night. For others, it’s a disturbing thought that is easily brushed aside. Whichever group you belong to, you need to have an estate plan in place. This is the only way that you can have any say in how your assets are distributed after you pass. Without an estate plan, your family will be subjected to much more stress and financial strain. One part of an estate plan is a trust.

Barron’s recent article, “Why a Trust Is a Great Estate-Planning Tool — Even if You’re Not Rich,” explains that there are many types of trusts, but the most frequently used for these purposes is a revocable living trust. This trust allows you—the grantor—to specify exactly how your estate will be distributed to your beneficiaries when you die, and at the same time avoiding probate and stress for your loved ones.

12.26.18Trusts serve a variety of functions in estate planning, and they aren’t just for wealthy people.

Trusts can be simple, or they can be complex, depending on what type of trust is being considered and how they are structured. Trusts should be set up by an estate planning attorney, who is familiar with asset ownership and how trusts impact inheritances and taxes.

U.S. News & World Report’s recent article, “Setting Up a Trust Fund,” explains that a trust fund refers to a fund made up of assets, like stocks, cash, real estate, mutual bonds, collectibles, or even a business, that are distributed after a death. The person setting up a trust fund is called the grantor, and the person, people or organization(s) receiving the assets are known as the beneficiaries. The person the grantor names to ensure that his or her wishes are carried out is the trustee.

10.18.17For living trusts, the person or people who set them up are usually named the initial trustees, but after that, there needs to be a successor trustee. Think carefully about who you would want to take on these responsibilities.

When the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse usually becomes the sole trustee, according to the article, “Women on Money and Mindset: Estate planning: choosing a trustee,” in The (Riverside CA) Press-Enterprise. When the second spouse dies, the trust passes to a successor trustee or trustees. Most people name an adult child, trusted friend or a family member who they trust. You can also name a bank or a professional fiduciary.

Children: Married couples often will name their oldest child as the successor trustee or they name all their children to act as co-trustees. This can work if there’s never been a divorce; there is only one child; she lives close; she doesn’t work and all the assets are investment accounts.  However, most adult children will have full-time jobs. Adding the job of trustee can be a strain because it’s time-consuming and technical. The administrative burden of taking care of your final business can be overwhelming.

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