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November/December 2017

Trusts — A Helpful Planning Tool

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You may think you have to be very wealthy to include a trust in your estate plan. But even individuals with modest assets may find trusts to be useful for providing more control over how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Here is a brief overview of some of the estate planning objectives you can accomplish using a trust.

Distribute assets over a period of time. You can control how assets are passed to loved ones who may lack financial experience by setting up a trust designed to distribute assets in stages instead of in a lump sum. Alternatively, a trustee may be instructed to ensure that distributions are used only for essential needs.

Ensure the privacy of your financial affairs. Placing assets in a living trust allows you to avoid the probate process and transfer assets to beneficiaries privately.

Prevent unintentional disinheritance. In blended families, a trust can be used to distribute assets to a decedent’s biological children following the death of the second spouse.

Provide for disabled children or relatives. A special needs trust can ensure that assets benefit a disabled beneficiary without causing a loss of government benefits, such as health care and housing.

Appoint a financial fiduciary. Couples or individuals without children or other family may want to set up a trust and appoint a trust company to manage their financial affairs should they become unable to do so.

Give to charity. You can use a trust to make charitable donations while still providing for loved ones.

There are many ways to structure a trust. Be sure to consult an attorney who specializes in estate planning for guidance.


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