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Should your estate plan include a trust?

An estate plan is an important step for everyone, no matter the size of the estate in question or the amount of money a person earns. A will is the most basic component of a strong estate plan, but many Pennsylvania residents will find that they need protection beyond what a simple will can offer.

If you need more than a will, you may consider the many benefits of a trust. Like a will, this allows you to specify your wishes for the distribution of your estate. A trust goes into effect immediately, allowing you to distribute assets to beneficiaries while you are still living. 

Estate management in your lifetime through a living trust

A living trust is one of the most common types of trusts. There are many benefits to a living trust, one of them being the ability to manage and enjoy the use of trust assets while you are living. A trust is not necessary for everyone, but you may benefit from the specific protection that it can provide, including:

  • Protection of your assets in case you are disabled or unable to make decisions for yourself
  • Allowing you the right to revoke or amend the trust at any time
  • Allowing you to avoid the probate process

Upon the creation of the trust, you may name yourself the trustee. You may also appoint a co-trustee, a person who would ensure that the distribution of trust assets goes according to your wishes after your death or who will hold assets in the trust until a time specified by you.

Choosing the right type of trust

For your family, forming a trust may be about much more than simply maintaining control over your estate. For many, a living trust is the optimal choice, but there are various types of trusts available. Choosing the right one involves a careful evaluation of your needs and objectives, but asking the following questions may prove useful:

  • Do you wish to set aside money for the care of a special needs child?
  • Do you want to keep money safe until your beneficiaries reach a certain age?
  • Do you want to ensure that a large portion of your estate goes to a specific institution, group or charitable organization?

As you make important decisions for yourself and your loved ones, you would be wise to discuss with an attorney your need for a trust and the specific type that may be most beneficial for you. With a full understanding of the tax implications, benefits and other options that may be available to you, your estate plan will have the elements necessary to meet your unique objectives.

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