Compassionate Attorneys Providing Trust Services for Clients
Expertise provided for the following areas:
- Revocable trusts
- Irrevocable trusts
- Transfer on Death Deeds, quit claim deeds
- Wealth Transfer & Gifts
What is a Trust? A trust is a legal property interest held by one person (trustee) for the benefit of another (beneficiary). Different Types of Trusts There are several different types of trusts one can create:
- Living trust – A trust that is created while you are alive. A living trust allows the trustee and beneficiary to avoid the probate process.
- Testamentary trust – A trust established through a will. A testamentary trust generally must go through probate.
- Revocable trust – A trust that can be terminated at any time by the grantor for any reason.
- Irrevocable trust – A trust that cannot be changed or terminated for any reason.
Requirements for a Trust Creating a trust is a relatively simple process. All that you must do is fill out a:
- Valid Declaration of Trust form
- Sign over the required deeds for property such as homes and automobiles that will be included in the trust
Advantages of a Trust
- Property in a living trust does not go through probate
- The trust document is never made public like a will
- You can name alternative beneficiaries to inherit property if a primary beneficiary dies before you do
- Allows others to handle your assets when you are not able to
Do I Need an Attorney to Draft a Will or Trust? If you choose to create a will or trust, consulting with an attorney experienced in estate planning is always a wise thing to do. The potential tax implications and legal formalities of will and trust drafting make a lawyer's counsel indispensable. A lawyer can explain all your options and help you understand what types of wills or trusts are right for you and your family.
Do Living Trusts Protect Assets from Creditors?
These trusts are useful for estate planning, but you'll need to take other steps to shield assets.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust is the kind of trust a lawyer might recommend when you're writing your will and taking other estate planning steps but it is not for everybody. Its primary purpose is to save your family the expense and hassle of probate after your death.
Avoiding probate is a worthy goal. Unlike property left through your will, property that you leave to others through a living trust doesn’t need probate court approval before it can be passed on to those who inherit it. That means your surviving family members don’t need to conduct a probate court proceeding, which typically takes eight months to a year and can eat up over $20,000 of your estate. (Probate’s complexity and expense depend on where you live and how complicated your financial and family situations are.)
Living trusts have other benefits, too. If you ever become incapacitated, your “successor trustee”—the person you name in the trust document to take over after your death—can step in and manage trust assets. That can be extremely helpful in an emergency or in the case of a serious, chronic illness.
Why Creditors Can Get to Assets in a Revocable Living Trust
Revocable living trusts don’t, however, protect your assets from people with legal claims against you. That’s because although the trust is a legal entity, for legal purposes you’re treated as the owner of the trust assets.
When you set up a typical probate-avoidance revocable living trust, you name yourself as the trustee. That lets you keep complete control over the assets you transfer to the trust. You can put property in the trust, take it out, sell it, or give it away at any time, with no restrictions. As a practical matter, it’s still yours.
Another reason the law considers you the owner of trust property is that the trust is revocable—that is, you can revoke it at any time. If you did, the assets would once again be in your name.
While assets are in the trust, any income they generate is taxed on your personal income tax return. The trust isn’t a separate tax-paying entity as long as you’re alive.
Trusts That Can Protect Assets
Although a simple probate-avoidance trust can’t shield assets from creditors, there’s a whole industry devoted to asset protection. If you put money in an irrevocable trust—one you don’t control and can’t revoke—then the money probably won’t be considered yours any more, and it won’t be available to creditors. Wealthy people who are worried about lawsuits may create very complex trusts, often set up with an offshore trustee. They may also set up limited liability companies or entities called “family limited partnerships.”
If you're concerned about creditors and lawsuits, there are also simpler methods to protect assets, such as putting your money in assets that your state protects from creditors. (For example, even if you file for bankruptcy, you can keep the money in your retirement plan accounts; and in some states creditors can’t take your house, no matter how much it’s worth.) And of course, you can buy insurance to protect you from liability. Control is the operative word here; the more you control, the less protection you have. The least control, the better protection you have with a trust. Trust us to protect what matters, your empire. Call today.