You’ve spent a lifetime building a business and safeguarding your assets, but how can you be certain your legacy will be secure after you’re gone? Discover why creating a trust could be your smartest, and safest, estate planning strategy.
While living wills are the mainstay of estate planning, trusts sometimes offer more control and better assurance that your assets are protected well into the future. By designating certain monies to individuals or entities under a predetermined set of circumstances, you and your benefactors gain several key advantages:
> Avoidance of Probate. Unlike traditional wills, some trusts are precluded from the lengthy probate process, allowing you to sidestep up to 8% in additional fees.
> Tax Relief. Some trust assets are tax-exempt upon transference to your heirs and, in certain cases, tax-sheltered during your lifetime. Even if your estate is not large, trusts can also deliver tax relief for the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy.
> Protection from Creditors. Whereas wills require estates to pay creditors first, trust assets are often shielded from creditors and, in some instances, from bankruptcy and lawsuits.
> Control. As creator of the trust, you specify how benefactors use the funds, such as for education or medical needs, and you designate the criteria for disbursement, such as age or graduation. Additionally, you choose who will have fiduciary oversight of the trust.
Choosing the Right Trust
Whether insuring the medical needs of a loved one or supporting a beloved cause, trusts generally fall under one of these categories:
> Testamentary. A testamentary trust is defined in your will and funded by your estate after your death. Although subject to probate, it is sometimes the best choice to fund care for a disabled child or reduce estate taxes for a spouse.
> Inter Vivos. Funded during your lifetime and created outside of your will, the inter vivos trust supports various estate planning strategies depending on its type.