Do you have a will that provides instructions about how your assets should be distributed after your death? If so, you’re in the minority. According to a 2015 survey from Rocket Lawyer, 64 percent of Americans don’t have a will.1
While a will is an important planning tool, it may not be sufficient to meet your needs. It could be possible that you also need a trust to achieve your estate planning objectives. Trusts aren’t just for the ultrawealthy. They can benefit anyone who wishes to exercise control over their legacy and protect their heirs.
Not sure if you could benefit from a trust? Below are a few questions to ask yourself. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may want to consult with an estate planning professional to determine whether a trust might benefit your estate plan.
Do you want to maintain control of your assets after you pass away?
A will can dictate who should receive your assets, but it doesn’t state when or how they receive them. You simply state who your heirs are and which assets they’ll receive. Then your assets are distributed to those heirs after the probate process is complete.
With a trust, you can specify when assets are distributed and how they are managed in the meantime. For example, you might state that grandchildren receive their inheritances when they reach a certain age or after they accomplish a major life goal. You could specify that assets be paid out as annual or monthly income instead of in a lump sum. The choice is yours when it comes to distribution.
Your assets are managed by a trustee until they are distributed. The trustee could be an adviser, a friend, a relative or an estate planning professional. Whomever you choose, that individual has a legal obligation to follow the instructions you set forth in the trust document.
Do some of your heirs need assistance managing their inheritance?
You may have some heirs who are unable to manage a large inheritance. Minor children are a good example. While you may want them to benefit from your assets, they don’t have the skills or knowledge to manage a sizable amount of money or property. A trust could be used to manage the funds on their behalf until they reach legal age.
You may also have adult heirs who face challenges. Perhaps they are handicapped and are unable to manage their own financial affairs. Maybe you have a child who’s a spendthrift or who has faced substance abuse issues. In those instances, you may feel more comfortable setting up a trust that slowly distributes assets rather than leaving them a sizable lump sum.
Do you want to minimize probate expenses?
Even if you have a will, your estate will still have to go through a process called probate. This is the legal process for settling an estate. During this time, the court and your executor settle outstanding debts, file tax returns, liquidate assets, notify heirs and more. The process can be time-consuming, and it can generate substantial administrative and legal costs.
Assets that are held in a trust avoid the probate process. Instead of going through probate, those assets are simply distributed to heirs according to the terms of the trust. You can use a trust to get assets into your beneficiaries’ hands faster and with reduced legal expense.
Ready to explore which strategy is best for you in your estate plan? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Bridgeriver Advisors. We can help you analyze your needs and refer you to an estate attorney. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. 16995 - 2017/9/25