What is a trust?
A trust is a legal entity that is created for the purpose of transferring property to a trustee for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). The trustee manages the property for the beneficiary according to the terms specified in the trust.
Why you might consider discussing trusts with your attorney
• Trusts may be used to minimize estate taxes for married individuals with substantial assets.
• Trusts provide management assistance for your heirs.*
• Contingent trusts for minors (which take effect in the event that both parents die) may be used to avoid the costs of having a court-appointed guardian to manage your children’s assets.
• Properly funded trusts avoid many of the administrative costs of probate (e.g., attorney fees, document filing fees).
• Generally, revocable living trusts will keep the distribution of your estate private.
• Trusts can be used to dispense income to intermediate beneficiaries (e.g., children, elderly parents) before final property distribution. Trusts can ensure that assets go to your intended beneficiaries. For example, if you have children from a prior marriage you can make sure that they, as well as a current spouse, are provided for.
• Trusts can minimize income taxes by allowing the shifting of income among beneficiaries.
• Properly structured irrevocable life insurance trusts can provide liquidity for estate settlement needs while removing the policy proceeds from estate taxation at the death of the insured.
*This is particularly important for minors and incapacitated adults who may need support, maintenance, and/or education over a long period of time, or for adults who have difficulty managing money.
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To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
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