Trusts Created to Meet Your Needs
The Trust is not just for the very wealthy. If you have three children under the age of 18 and something happens to you and your spouse, do you know how your estate will be managed for their benefit? Do you know when your children will be entitled to a distribution from your estate? If you have simple Wills, or no Wills, the answer is that your children’s legal Guardian will manage your money and real estate, doing his or her best to guess what you would do in their place. As each child reaches the age of 18, the Guardian must give each child his or her share of your estate. Do you think this is a good plan? Most people do not.
What happens if you have no Will or Trust that directs who will be your children’s Guardian and how your children’s inheritance will be managed after your death? With no Will or Trust, members from both sides of the family could become involved in a lengthy Probate Court proceeding to determine who will care for your children and who will manage their inheritance. What can you do to prevent this? First, be sure that you have a Will that names your children’s legal Guardian. Next, establish a Revocable Trust, also known as a Living Trust, which may be funded during your lifetime or after your death. If you establish and fund the Trust during your lifetime, it may not be necessary to probate your Will. You may transfer cash, bank accounts, investments of any type, real estate and any type of business interest to your Trust. If you have a disabled child who will need special care and support throughout his or her lifetime, establishing a Special Needs Trust, also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, is critical. This Trust enables you to leave money to your disabled child, to be managed by a Trustee chosen by you, in a way that will not disqualify your child from receiving important benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid (MassHealth) benefits, counseling from a social worker, eligibility for a group home or subsidized housing, food stamps and other governmental programs.
Trustees and Beneficiaries
You, or you and your spouse, may be named as the original Trustees and beneficiaries of the Trust. With a Revocable Trust, you will have complete control over the management of the Trust during your lifetime. You may add funds and property to the Trust, you may withdraw funds and property, and you may sell trust property and purchase new property with the proceeds. After you, or you and your spouse, are deceased, the Successor Trustee or Trustees, who are chosen by you, will manage the trust funds for the benefit of your children or other beneficiaries. The Successor Trustee may be a parent, a sibling, any other family member or a friend. If there is no appropriate family member or friend who can act as Trustee, a professional Trustee is a good option. You may choose more than one Successor Trustee. Many married couples choose a family member from each side of the family to serve as Successor Co-Trustees for the benefit of their children. The person whom you name as Guardian for your minor children may be a good choice as a Successor Trustee, or there may be another family member or friend with investment experience who would be a better Trustee.
Types of Trusts
Trusts are a critical part of estate planning if you wish to avoid the need to probate your Will. If you, or you and your spouse, transfer all of your non-retirement bank and investment accounts, your home and other real estate owned by you to your Revocable Trust prior to your death, it will not be necessary to probate your Wills. Establishing one or more Trusts is necessary if your goal is to minimize or eliminate liability for estate taxes. The same is true if you have a disabled child who will need care and supervision throughout his or her adult life. The Trust is also an excellent vehicle if you want to make gifts to your grandchildren or leave a substantial portion of your estate to charity after your death. There are many different types of Trusts. Attorney Atkins can assist you with the following:
- Revocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Irrevocable Insurance Trusts
- Marital Trusts
- Generation Skipping Trusts
- Charitable Remainder Trusts
- Asset Protection Trusts
Attorney Merrill J. Atkins specializes in estate planning and has extensive experience in drafting Trusts. One of the most important parts of an estate plan is a Trust. Located in Sutton, Massachusetts, we help individuals throughout Worcester County, use trusts to establish their estate planning goals.
For more information about how Attorney Atkins can help you create a Trust tailored to meet your specific needs, contact Merrill J. Atkins, Attorney at Law, today in Sutton, Massachusetts.