One of the most basic elements of estate planning is deciding between a will and a trust. Many people are familiar with the basics of a will and assume that trusts are only for people who are extraordinarily wealthy. This is not the case. Trusts can provide several benefits to people with more modest estates. An experienced Palm Beach County trust attorney can discuss your estate planning and wealth management goals with you to determine whether you should consider establishing a trust.
When you die with a will, your estate will be administered under the supervision of a probate court in the jurisdiction where you died. This can be a very costly and time-consuming process that can eat up valuable estate resources. In addition, conflicts can easily arise because all interested parties are notified of the probate process. Lastly, the probate process is public, meaning that many probate documents are available for review by anyone who may be interested.
Establishing a trust allows you to avoid the probate process entirely, which is the main reason why many people choose this option. Your trust becomes effective at the moment you complete the documents and transfer your assets into the trust. When you die, the trust will be administered by the trustee according to the terms of the trust agreement, rather than under the supervision of a court.
Greater Control and Flexibility
With a will, your entire estate will be distributed upon your death. A trust can be structured in a way that certain assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries only when certain conditions have been met. For example, you may direct that your children receive their inheritance only once they have graduated from college.
Alternatively, beneficiaries can receive specific benefits while the trust retains ownership and control of the asset. For example, beneficiaries may receive a share of profits from a family business while the trust continues to own and operate the business. This is an especially attractive option with investment accounts – the beneficiaries can receive income while the trust continues to manage the investments themselves.
In general, trusts allow you to manage your estate with greater flexibility and control to ensure that your estate planning goals are met.
Management of your assets can go into limbo during the probate process while the court approves distribution. Because the trust is effective once it is funded, there is no disruption to managing the affairs of your estate. The trustee can continue managing your assets without interruption after you died, ensuring the maximum benefit to your heirs.
As mentioned above, trusts also provide greater privacy than wills. The trust agreement is not a public document, therefore, it is not available for review by anyone other than the parties to the trust.
Considering a Trust? Contact a Palm Beach County Trust Attorney
The estate planning attorneys at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun have decades of experience in helping people across the state of Florida achieve their estate planning goals. If you would like to discuss whether a trust makes sense for you, contact us today at 561-626-2101 or toll-free at 800-226-1484 to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys about your estate management needs.