In New York, a trust is something that falls into two categories: a living trust and a testamentary trust. A living trust is set up while you are still living, while a testamentary trust is created after your death.
The decision to set up a trust is a very personal one. You will want to do some research with a legal professional to decide if a trust is the right idea for you and your beneficiaries.
Trusts can help you dictate certain conditions for your children, it can help your loved ones in that you have planned ahead for them after you are gone, and it can reduce the tax rate charged. Another consideration is the avoidance of probate, which can tie up your estate for years.
The grantor, or person who is bequeathing assets to the beneficiary, may have a trustee, or someone who will administer the trust for him or her after he or she has passed away.
This role is very important but usually doesn’t make that person a beneficiary. There is, however, usually a stipend or payment for these services, which is paid out of the estate.
A trustee is someone who has experience in successfully managing trusts, but it isn’t legally required that you have one. Trustees can serve many purposes, but the single most important role they play is providing their clients peace of mind by knowing how to administer and manage their trusts well. A trustee acts as someone who can be a reliable manager of your funds and assets. There are many responsibilities that come with this role.
Choosing the right person will involve evaluating his or her organizational and communication skills, assessing his ability to serve and most importantly, a determination if he or she has a solid understanding of financial basics.
Investing the funds in your trust so that they grow and are maintained at an acceptable level is paramount. Having those investments reflect minimum risk is another duty that falls to the trustee.
If you need to set up a trust or have questions about creating one, the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney can be quite valuable. Trusts can help you ensure your wishes are carried out when you pass on.
Source: Forbes, “Steven Anderson: What you need to know about trusts” Steven Anderson, Aug. 10, 2014