It's an urban myth that trusts are only for rich people. While wealthy people create trusts because of their awareness of the advantages a trust has over a will, even modest estates can greatly benefit from the creation of a trust.
A trust is simply an agreement that directs the distribution of your assets in an efficient, secure and financially advantageous manner.
Are there different kinds of trusts?
• A revocable trust (or living trust) is a trust that allows you to control and manage the assets in your trust while you are alive. You can still buy, sell, or gift your asset while they are in your trust. This type of trust will allow you to avoid probate and may be able to limit your family’s estate tax burden.
• An irrevocable trust is a vehicle that will still allow you to avoid probate but it also offers immediate asset protection and estate tax reduction. The downside of an irrevocable trust is that you must effectively give up all control of the assets you place into the trust and rely on your named trustee to manage them for you. For more on irrevocable trusts, please visit http://wfplaw.com/Irrevocable-Trusts.html.
What are the main advantages to setting up a revocable trust?
- Avoiding Probate. Trusts allow your family to avoid probate. Probate is an arduous process that is costly and time consuming. It could delay the distribution of your assets for years. Additionally, probate can cost up to 10% of the value of your estate.
- Estate Tax Reduction. A living trust may double your tax-free distributions which could save your family hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Lower Court and Attorney Fees. Distribution through a trust can also save you on the attorney and executor’s fees charged to probate a will.
- Asset Protection. A trust can protect your beneficiaries from having their inheritance taken from them.
- Control From Beyond the Grave. You can control who gets what, how they receive it, where they keep it, when they can get it, how much they can get at any time and even how they use it.
- Privacy. While a will is public record for the world to see, a trust is a completely private document which will not only allow for less embarrassment but also will prevent most contests to your wishes.
- Flexibilty. The trust is “revocable” which means it can be changed, amended, or revoked as many times as you wish while you are alive.
- If you are afraid that your child is financially irresponsible, you can direct the timing and distribution of his inheritance.
- You can keep your ex-spouse from inheriting assets that you leave to a minor child.
- You can direct your assets to go directly to your grandchildren after your children die without the assets ever entering the possession of your son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
- You can be as creative as you like in the distribution and timing of your assets.
How does setting up a trust affect my estate taxes?
• Estate tax protection is a surprising benefit of creating a living trust. If you are married, you have the option of including a Bypass Trust in your living trust which will double the amount of money that you can pass to your beneficiaries tax free. This simple election could save your family hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How can setting up a trust protect my family from creditors?
• Asset protection is a huge benefit of a trust-based estate plan. • When your assets are in a trust, they cannot be reached by creditors, litigation, bankruptcy or divorce. While a will provides for a direct distribution of assets, a trust allows you to create a Separate Share Trust Fund for each of your beneficiaries that you are able to control and protect from beyond the grave for up to 360 years.
Who can find out about my trust?
• No one! Your trust is private and secret
• The only people who will be privy to your trust are you, your trustee, and your attorney. Even your beneficiaries will not know what is in your trust. They will only be aware of the portion of the trust that you bequeath to them directly.
I have relatives that I’d like to help, but I am worried about their financial responsibility. Will creating a trust help?
YES!!! Here are some common examples:
The privacy and secrecy of the estate will keep your beneficiaries from feeling slighted and from comparing notes.
For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation. It's a Wild world. Are you protected?