Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is a trust a good idea for me?

A lot of people wonder if they need a trust or if a trust will be a "cure-all" to all issues that could come up after they die. This seemingly simple question is really only properly addressed through determining an individual's goals for their overall estate plan. A trust may play a role in accomplishing these goals.

First, a definition, a trust is a type of ownership where the control of the property and the benefits of ownership are split. A trustee has control of the property and the beneficiary has the benefits of the property. Because pieces of the ownership are split, trusts end up being a useful vehicle to accomplish many types of estate planning goals. These goals include:

1. avoiding or eliminating estate tax
2. avoiding probate
3. becoming eligible for medical assistance
4. farm or family cabin continuation
5. providing for young children or those with special needs
6. allowing another to use your assets to provide for your needs in case of incapacitation
7. using your assets to accomplish a charitable purpose.

If you are interested in using a trust to accomplish some of these goals, speak with a licensed attorney who can discuss your estate planning goals and various legal tools, including trusts, that may help.