A WAY TO AVOID PROBATE

A primary benefit of a trust is that your assets are transferred out of your name and into the name of the trust. From a legal perspective, when you die, there is nothing to probate because nothing was owned in your name. The trust owns the assets and it continues after your death.

However, there is no reason to worry. Even though you transfer your assets to the trust, you maintain full control over the trust (and your assets) while you are alive and competent. You can use the trust assets during your lifetime any way you want, just as if they were not held in trust. You can change the terms of the trust whenever you want and even terminate the trust altogether.

Your trust documents will dictate how the trust assets will be distributed upon your death. As such, you will retain the same ability to control how your estate will be divided that you had without a trust. In fact, you can provide that your trust remain in effect for years after your death and thus, control your assets long after your death.

Your trust also can designate someone of your choosing to control the trust assets if you become incompetent before your death. Of course, if you recover from your disability, you will again take control of the trust assets.

Another benefit to a trust is that it often can provide ways of reducing the taxes on your estate.

Despite the many advantages of the revocable living trust, the cost is not significantly greater than a will, and since the will must be probated and the trust does not, the trust is a less expensive way of transferring your assets to your loved ones upon your death.

Naturally, the above description of the benefits of a trust is not intended to be comprehensive. Is a trust right for everyone? Of course not. Trusts, however, can benefit many people. We would be happy to meet with you and to discuss your situation to determine if a trust is right for you.

A trust typically includes a variety of related documents that complete your estate plan. These documents may include a general power of attorney for financial matters, a power of attorney for medical and/or mental health issues, and a living will for decisions regarding treatments for catastrophic disease or injury. It is important to have these documents even if you do not have a trust.

Trusts have been around for hundreds of years and they are approved of in every state. A trust may provide you with important benefits that you should not ignore.

As a final note, you should remember that trust laws change from time to time, and may not be quite the same in every state. You should have your trust documents reviewed periodically by a competent attorney to ensure that your trust provides you with the maximum benefits under the law. You may be surprised how your needs change over time. For example, you have more nieces and nephews today than you had when you had your original estate plan prepared. To avoid cutting someone out of your estate unintentionally, it is a good idea to have a review every year or so. Our office will review existing estate plans at no charge whatsoever.

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