Under current law, a revocable Living Trust may be established to provide for the handling of certain property for the benefit of an individual or charity by a trustee. Assets passing through Living Trusts upon the death of the creator of the trust (the “Grantor” or “Trustor”) are currently exempt from the probate process.
A trust allows you to decide how you want property or money handled over a defined period of time for an individual or charity. This is frequently seen with special needs children or a disabled adult beneficiary (“special needs trusts“). Real estate (including your primary residence), businesses, stocks, bonds, artwork, antiques, artwork and certain other assets may be transferred to a Living Trust that is then administered by a Trustee (in many cases, you may be the named Trustee of the Living Trust you create). Certain types of assets are not well-suited to be transferred to a Trust, including vehicles, IRA’s, and other tax-deferred investments like certain annuities. The property legally belongs to the Trust and not you individually. Upon your death, the revocable Living Trust allows for a private transfer of assets, as specified in the trust agreement.
If the beneficiaries of your Trust are minor children at the time of your death, the Trust will generally be managed by another Trustee until the children have reached legal age or the age you have specified. You also have the option of setting up distribution rules to protect the Trust. As an example, you might allow a specific amount to be distributed until your beneficiary is 25 years old or older if there are doubts that the person would manage the funds well. In cases where a Trust is set up for a disabled adult child, distributions for ongoing supplemental medical care and living expenses over and above what public benefits such as Medicaid/SSI will pay could continue until the death of the trust beneficiary.
If you have assets, it is worth speaking to an estate planning attorney to see if a Trust is right for you. Brinkley Walser Stoner has the depth of experience to guide you through the estate planning process no matter how small or how complex your estate is. Contact us today.