Trusts are among the more oft-neglected weapons in the estate planning arsenal. While they're not perfect for every situation, trusts are useful ways to transfer assets to beneficiaries without relying as heavily on wills. Let's look at how estates and trusts attorneys might help you strike the right balance in preserving your legacy.
Who Are the Beneficiaries?
A big part of this issue boils down to who the beneficiaries of your estate are going to be. For example, a trust is a great way to transfer assets to a non-profit organization after you pass. Similarly, some folks like to use trusts to transfer assets while they're still alive for tax reasons or just to see someone else get the use of the assets.
There are also several scenarios where the beneficiary's mental or physical capacities may be limited. An estates and trusts lawyer will likely consider this a situation where they will strongly encourage a client to consider setting up a trust. You might be concerned that a spouse who already has health problems won't be able to handle their finances after you pass, for example. A similar scenario may arise with a beneficiary who isn't mentally or emotionally capable of dealing with money, such as a dependant minor or an adult beneficiary with learning difficulties.
Are You Worried About Probate Issues?
It's inevitable that a probate court will review any elements of your estate that are built into a will. Trusts generally help folks get around the probate process. If you're worried, for example, that your descendants might not agree with each other in dealing with the terms of your estate, it may be advantageous to move your assets into a series of trusts to limit their ability to cause trouble for each other.
Do the Proceeds Need to Move Quickly?
Returning to the previous example of a spouse with health issues, there's also a strong argument for a trust to provide for immediate medical care. Even without time in probate court, an estate usually takes time. An executor or administrator has to find beneficiaries, notify them, and make sure there aren't any problems.
If a beneficiary needs money to pay for medical care every month without fail, you don't want to leave them in a lurch when you pass. A trust will streamline the process of providing for their care, ensuring there isn't a delay in making payments for medical services, drugs, and equipment.
For more information about how an estates and trusts attorney can help you manage your assets, contact a local law practice.