Q: Do I need a trust?
A: A trust is usually the simplest, easiest, most efficient, and most flexible estate planning tool for any given scenario. Examples of who may benefit from a trust include:
Established couples. Many middle-aged or more established families benefit from a trust over a will. By the time children start to move into adolescence, many families have enough assets that they want a trust to help manage them if something were to happen to the parents.
Estates containing real estate. In general, an estate that contains any real estate is large enough and creates enough complications in probate to benefit from a trust. This is, in fact, the most common type of estate plan: a modest estate containing the home as the primary asset, which is to pass in more or less equal shares to the children.
Clients who want to leave a legacy. For anybody who wants to do more than simply pass their assets on to their children, a trust is essential. For example, if you want to provide ongoing payments to your children rather than leave them a lump sum, you will want to use a trust. Likewise, if you want to protect your children’s inheritance from creditors, a trust is the best vehicle. A special purpose fund, like a “grandchildren college fund” or the “family cabin fund” will need to be administered through a trust. These matters are especially acute for people who have children with special needs, or who are bad with money, or where addiction is a concern.