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Trusts: Going beyond a will

A will may be the estate planning document that most New York residents are familiar with, but a living trust can also be beneficial in certain circumstances. A trust functions in much the same was as a will because it tells how your assets are to be divided, but it gives you more control. A revocable living trust is simply a trust that is established while you are still alive and can be changed at any time.

One of the biggest advantages to a living trust is that it does not have to go through probate as a will does. This means that the assets can be distributed more quickly to the heirs, and there is less hassle overall because there is minimal dealing with the courts.

A living trust can also make it easier to keep up with bookkeeping and financial record as you get older because the trustee is set up as someone who can pay the taxes and manage your assets. In most cases, the trustee does not need to do these things until after the death, but it can be an option while a person is still alive if he or she is otherwise incapacitated.

The other major advantage to a living trust is that it gives you more control over how your assets are disbursed. With a will, your heirs will receive what you have left them all at once, but a trust allows you to specify the terms of when the assets will be disbursed or how they can be used. For instance, it may be possible to set a trust up to give an heir $10,000 when the person turns 18 and another $20,000 when the person turns 25.

A trust can be a beneficial tool for many people, and Rochester residents can get more information on this option by talking with a probate and estate administration attorney.

Source: Time, "Why This Estate Planning Tool Beats Just Having a Will" Kerri Anne Renzulli, Oct. 06, 2014

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