A trust is a written document that manages the assets of a family or individual. Trusts can be living, meaning it is created during the lifetime of the Settlor, or testamentary, meaning it is created by a will.
Benefits of a Trust versus a Will:
- Avoids the probate process (ie, the court system).
- It can provide the same protections of a will, but without the hassle of distinguishing between probate (tangible personal property and real property) and non-probate (insurance policies, bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.) assets.
- Can save on estate taxes
- Greater flexibility – Trusts can include language that encourages the Trustee to fund things you find important and rank them in a list from most important to the Settlor to least. For example a Settlor can direct a Trustee: provide for named beneficiaries’ college expenses, conserve funds for the beneficiaries so that the beneficiaries have a lifelong income supplement, to care for a surviving spouse’s welfare and standard of living including directing a Trustee to be generous with ensuring a surviving spouse is comfortably provided for, a beloved pet’s comfort and welfare.
- Can include probate and non-probate assets.
- Probate assets are assets owned solely in the name of the deceased individual.
- Non-Probate assets are assets owned jointly with another person or assets that have a named beneficiary. Examples of non-probate assets are insurance policies with named beneficiaries, retirement accounts, property held in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, bank or brokerage accounts that are payable upon death (POD) or transferrable upon death (TOD) to named beneficiaries.