Advantages of trusts
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal entity that is created for the purpose of transferring property to a trustee for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). The trustee manages the property for the beneficiary according to the terms specified in the trust document.
Why you might consider discussing trusts with your attorney
- Trusts may be used to minimize federal estate taxes for married individuals with substantial assets.
- Trusts provide management assistance for your heirs.*
- Contingent trusts for minors (which take effect in the event that both parents die) may be used to avoid the costs of having a court-appointed trustee.**
- Properly funded trusts avoid many of the administrative costs of probate (e.g., attorney fees, document filing fees).
- Generally, revocable living trusts will keep the distribution of your estate private.
- Trusts can be used to dispense income to intermediate beneficiaries (e.g., children, elderly parents) before final property distribution.
- Trusts can ensure that assets go to your intended beneficiaries. For example, if you have children from a prior marriage you can make sure that they, as well as a current spouse, are provided for.
- Trusts can minimize income taxes by allowing the shifting of income among beneficiaries.
- Properly structured irrevocable life insurance trusts can provide liquidity for estate settlement needs while removing the policy proceeds from estate taxation at the death of the insured.
*This is particularly important for minors and incapacitated adults who may need support, maintenance, and/or education over a long period of time.
**With a court-appointed trustee, the court must be petitioned each time funds are needed for the minor. In addition, the assets are generally invested in very conservative investments.