A trust is a legal vehicle allowing the individual named as trustee to hold and direct assets on behalf of the trust’s beneficiary. There are many different types of trusts, but a revocable living trust is the most commonly used in estate planning. In this arrangement, you are the grantor of the trust and the trustee. When you pass away, the individual you’ve named as the successor trustee takes over the role of managing the trust assets.
What a Trust Can Do
Although a trust is not necessary for every situation, there are a number of reasons you may wish to consider a trust as part of your estate plan:
- If you have substantial assets, a trust can be used to reduce estate taxes.
- A trust helps your heirs avoid the time-consuming and expensive probate process while protecting your personal privacy.
- A trust gives you more control over how your assets are distributed, so there is less of a risk that your heirs will mismanage their inheritance.
- A trust lets you put conditions on assets distributed to heirs such as specifying that funds only be used for college education expenses.
- A trust is more difficult to challenge in court, which is beneficial if you have reason to think family tensions might result in estate litigation.
- A trust can prevent the need for a conservatorship if you become physically or mentally incapable of managing your financial affairs because the successor trustee will take over.
You Still Need a Will Even If You Have a Trust
Regardless of whether you choose to create a trust, you still need to have a will. Your will names an executor of your estate and chooses a guardian for your minor children. Additionally, your trust only covers property specifically included in the trust document. Most people only include their largest assets in their trust, so a will is necessary to distribute your remaining assets and items that have primarily sentimental value.
The attorney who creates your trust should review your will. These two documents need to work together to ensure your estate plan adequately meets your needs.
Do You Need to Speak With a Lawyer About Estate Planning?
If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.