This blog has previously discussed the different components of a comprehensive estate plan and a trust is an estate planning tool that can be used on its own or to supplement a will as part of an estate plan.
It is useful for estate planners to be familiar with how trusts work and how a trust can help them accomplish their goals for their estate plan.
It is important to know how a trust is created. A trust is created when a property owner transfers legal ownership of the property to a person or institution, which is referred to as a trustee, to manage the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. Trustees have important duties to the beneficiary that the trustee and the estate planner should be aware of. Property must be transferred into the trust for it to be valid. It is essential for an estate planner using a trust as part of their overall estate plan to ensure their trust is valid.
There are two broad categories of trusts including testamentary trusts and living trusts. Testamentary trusts go into effect when the estate planner passes, while a living trust is in effect during the estate planner’s life. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable and can continue after the estate planner passes. They can also be used to help avoid the probate process. As a result, there are different rules associated with the two different categories of trusts. In addition, there are several different types of trusts that can help meet specific needs, goals and desires of the estate planner.
A complete estate plan includes a variety of different estate planning tools and documents. It is helpful for estate planners to be familiar with the estate planning tools available through estate laws, including trusts which are sometimes less well understood when compared to the other estate planning tools but just as valuable for estate planners to be familiar with.