Trusts can offer a number of advantages in the estate planning process. Depending on how they are drafted, trusts can provide asset protection, avoid the costs of probate, and enable you to leave a meaningful legacy. Establishing well-drafted trusts requires comprehensive legal knowledge, so it is important to have experienced, insightful estate planning attorneys to guide you in preserving your assets. In Southern Massachusetts, there is no better choice than the trust attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. We offer you services tailored to your specific needs and provide you the personal attention you deserve.
How Trusts Can Help With Preserving Your Assets
Trusts are useful in asset protection because they can insulate you from the costs of long-term care, lawsuit and divorce settlements, and creditors. They can also minimize estate taxes. In addition, trusts can allow loved ones with special needs to retain their government benefits, prevent relatives with addictions or spendthrift tendencies from rapidly depleting their inheritance, make sure minors don’t inherit until they are legally able to do so, and protect your child’s inheritance in case you divorce.
Another advantage of well-drafted trusts is that they can help you to simplify or avoid probate, the court process of validating a last will and testament. The probate process can be expensive, as well as time-consuming, especially when it comes to high-net-worth estates. Different sources estimate probate to cost between 5 and 10 percent of your estate’s worth.
By having our savvy asset protection attorneys handle this matter with the sole intent of preserving your assets, you ensure that your loved ones will inherit the maximum amount of your estate. In a related matter, you can also make certain that your heirs from a previous marriage are not denied the funds you intend to bequeath them. Trusts also provide the benefit of being private documents; unlike wills, trusts are not available for public view.
It should be noted that revocable trusts (i.e. ones you may alter during your lifetime), while valuable in terms of avoiding probate and making the transfer of funds to your loved ones after you pass a smoother process, will not protect your assets.
How an Irrevocable Trust Protects Your Assets
When Surprenant & Beneski creates an irrevocable trust for you (i.e. one you cannot alter during your lifetime), you are known as the “grantor” and the person you designate to be in charge of the assets it contains is known as the “trustee.” The trustee is not only someone you consider dependable, but is someone in a fiduciary role, so the state will hold that individual to a high standard of integrity. Typically, your trustee will seek wise counsel from an experienced investment advisor to ensure that the funds in your trust continue to grow.
Because the trustee you appoint is now in control of whatever assets the trust contains — real estate, a life insurance settlement, your collection of artwork or guns, funds you intend for your minor heirs — these assets are no longer considered to be your property and so are safely protected from creditors and lawsuits targeting you personally. Since a trust makes your wishes for distribution of your wealth very clear, its existence can also minimize the risk family disputes after your death.
Trusts for Particular Purposes
One of the benefits of using trusts to plan your estate is that you can make very specific provisions when doing so. For example, you may designate at what age your minor child or grandchild will inherit money, or even make the receipt of the funds dependent on a prerequisite.
You may, for instance, only permit the recipient to receive money once he or she graduates college or becomes self-supporting. You can also require that the funds you leave be used only for medical or educational expenses. Having the ability to direct your heirs in this way will provide you with comfort, knowing that your wishes will be followed.
Establishing a charitable trust can enable you to leave a meaningful legacy to a charity, medical or educational institution, or other type of organization dear to your heart. Our wills and trusts attorneys can assist you in crafting a trust that specifies precisely how your money will be used — e.g. for a science center at a university, a new playground in the local park, a wing at a hospital, or a new roof for your place of worship.
Trust Planning For Preserving Your Assets
To summarize, a Trust provides both lifetime and after-death property management. Trust-based Plans avoid the cost and delay of probate and can achieve many other goals including keeping assets in your family.
You may want a Trust-based Plan if the following circumstances apply to you:
- Have significant assets (such as a home).
- Want to avoid the costs, delays and public nature of probate court.
- Want to protect assets for your family incase of your child’s divorce, death or lawsuit.
- Don’t like the idea that if your child passes your assets may go to his/her spouse, or that spouse’s new significant other.
- Have a more complicated distribution plan.
Contact Our Southern Massachusetts Asset Protection Attorney
At Surprenant & Beneski, our attorneys are well-schooled in every aspect of trust formation and management, as well as in all other aspects of estate planning and asset protection. We will pay close attention to the unique elements of your financial and familial needs, then clarify all relevant options. We will also help you by regularly reviewing your plans in view of significant recent events. Contact our office promptly. Once you know your assets and your loved ones are protected for the future, you will be more relaxed and productive in the present.
©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. This article is for illustration purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article. DO NOT make decisions based upon information provided. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.