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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.
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*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.

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