estate planning attorney

Trust Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Creating a trust can be an important component of estate planning, serving a number of useful purposes, including:

  • Helping to avoid probate
  • Lessening tax burdens
  • Protecting your loved ones (especially those with special needs)
  • Protecting your assets
  • Guarding your privacy. 

Trust mistakes can become serious problems. This is why it’s crucial to have knowledgeable, conscientious trusts attorneys like those at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 

If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts or on Cape Cod, we are here to guide you through the estate planning process smoothly and efficiently and to make certain your trusts are constructed without mistakes so they can be relied upon to serve the purposes you intend. 

As soon as you contact us, we will begin working to ensure that your future is protected and that your estate is properly arranged to transfer property to your heirs and other beneficiaries as effectively as possible. We will make certain that you avoid the following common trust mistakes:

Mistake #1: Not Choosing the Best Trustee for the Job

While you may be able to act as the trustee of your own trust during your lifetime, after your death, you will need someone dependable to execute transactions and manage/distribute assets.

Many of our clients automatically assume that their adult children should be put in the roles of trustees, but this is not always the best solution. Such a decision may have undesired repercussions, provoking unnecessary dissent among heirs. Our experienced trust attorneys will clarify other possible options, such as appointing a trusted friend or corporate entity as a trustee or even naming both as co-trustees.

Also, the state in which the trustee resides is significant under Massachusetts law.

In order to avoid Massachusetts income tax, you should select an out-of-state trustee. 

Mistake #2: Underestimating the Financial Needs of Your Heirs

It is all too easy to underestimate your loved ones’ needs going forward, especially in an inflationary economy. Our trust attorneys will help you to assess your family’s needs realistically, based on their ages, health, and earning capacities so that you can provide for their comfort and security in the best way possible.

We will make sure that you take into account the fact that some assets, as meaningful to you and your family as they are, may come with inherent financial burdens, such as maintenance and repair costs. 

Mistake #3: Insufficient Funding of Your Trusts

There is no sense in creating a trust if you don’t make sure that it’s properly funded. We will assist you in retitling appropriate assets, including insurance policies and retirement accounts. This may be as simple as retitling your beneficiary designations. 

We will also help you to make the necessary changes to your bank accounts, non-retirement investments accounts, and real estate or business interests so these funds, too, will be transferred to the trust at the time of your passing. Remember, simply mentioning in your will that you want this to occur will not avoid probate — it will just assure that these funds will go into the trust after the probate process is complete.

Mistake #4: Failing to Update Your Trust

While irrevocable trusts, once established, can’t be revoked or modified, if we have helped you to create living (revocable trusts), you may want or need to alter such trusts as your circumstances change. Examples of situations that may warrant changes to your revocable trusts are births, divorces, or deaths of family members. 

Another reason it is important to review your trusts and other aspects of your estate plan is that tax and inheritance laws may change and such changes may necessitate a re-examination of your documents and re-evaluation of your previous decisions.

At Surprenant & Beneski, we recommend routine reviews of your estate plan, including all trusts, every 3 years. There may be times, of course, when due to major life changes you want to meet with us more frequently. We are always available for consultation and will always provide you with thoughtful, well-founded advice.

Contact Our Experienced Trust Attorneys for Trustworthy Legal Counsel