Most people are at least generally familiar with wills. You likely understand that a will is an instrument that ensures your final wishes are carried out regarding the distribution of your estate when you pass away. Some people are less familiar with trusts, and they might assume that only extremely wealthy people benefit from trusts. However, trusts are not just for the very wealthy. A trust is simply an arrangement whereby you appoint a third party to manage your assets for the benefit of the people you designate as beneficiaries of the trust.
Whether your estate is large or small, a trust can be a useful vehicle for passing your estate to your loved ones. Even if you have a will already, you should discuss the possible benefits of a trust with an experienced Charleston trust lawyer at Weeks & Irvine, LLC.
Trusts can be designed to accomplish many goals. Most trusts keep your property out of the probate process, meaning that your beneficiaries can have access to the assets of the trust without waiting for probate to settle the will. Some trusts can be used to avoid estate taxes, if this is a concern for your estate.
Also, while the probate process is public record, trusts are not and can enhance your family’s privacy after your passing. Because you can set very specific terms for a trust, you can control to whom distributions are made, when, in what amount, and for what purposes. Further, you can set up a revocable trust while you are alive and still have access to the assets during your lifetime while still specifying the distribution of assets after you die. Trusts also can be set up to protect the assets of the trust from creditors your heirs might have, or to manage the assets for heirs who might not be good at money management.
There are many kinds of trusts designed to serve different purposes. Among these are:
One of the more important distinctions among trusts is whether they are revocable or irrevocable. You can access the funds and property in a revocable trust during your lifetime, which is why they sometimes are called living trusts. You can dissolve such a trust at any time while you are alive, though they usually become irrevocable upon your death. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, removes the assets from your direct control, and the terms of the trust cannot be changed once established. Irrevocable trusts often work to avoid estate taxes, unlike revocable trusts.
As you consider your estate plan and whether you want to include trust in that plan, you should talk to a professional. Contact the attorneys of Weeks & Irvine, LLC. We can assess your situation and advise you of how a trust might benefit you and your family, and we can ensure that you have the right type of trust in place.