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Estate planning and the use of trusts

| Apr 30, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Some people in Indiana might not have created an estate plan even if they have substantial assets. It is not uncommon for people to procrastinate creating an estate plan, but this can mean that the person’s assets do not go to the people intended.

First, people should keep in mind that creating an estate plan is not something they can do once and forget about. Estate plans should be reviewed regularly as well as after any major changes in family and assets in case they need updating. People may also want to discuss their plans with family members. This can help ensure that there are no misunderstandings or surprises that could lead to the will being challenged.

A trust may be helpful in many cases. Some people might want to consider appointing a professional trustee. Managing a complex trust can be too time-consuming for family members and may require a level of financial or legal expertise they do not possess. While a professional can cost money, it may be less costly in the long run than the advisors that family members might have to hire. There could be a provision in the trust that allows family members to replace the trustee. Trusts might be revocable or irrevocable depending on their purpose. The latter kind usually cannot be changed or canceled.

A lawyer may explain to families how a trust can manage distributions for individuals who might be irresponsible with money. For example, the trust could specify that the person will only receive distributions at certain milestones, such as on a birthday, or this could be left up the trustee. A trust could also protect assets for a family member with special needs. The person would still be able to get government assistance since the trust would not be counted as part of their assets. Trusts can also be used to support charities and for other purposes.