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Understanding living trusts and the options available

There are many estate planning devices available for New Yorkers. The individual goals and necessary strategies to achieve them dictate whether wills, trusts or other alternatives will suit the person's purposes. One option that might be useful is a living trust. Knowing when the living trust is suitable toward the individual's needs and desires and other facts about it is crucial when making the decision.

With a living trust, the person will have his or her desires as to how the assets are disbursed after death. Benefits of a living trust include avoiding probate and everything - cost, time spent waiting - along with it. The trust is not registered with the courts and this accords greater privacy. The control of the trust is the biggest benefit. An example would be a person who is leaving assets to a child, but wants a third party to oversee it until a time at which the child can take control. Most people will want to have a living trust when they are healthy and able to make determinations for the future. This can make certain the person's desires are carried out; there is a guideline as to how the assets are distributed; and it can avoid conflicts between heirs.

There are three basic types of living trusts that are commonly used. They are: a revocable trust; an irrevocable trust; and a charitable trust. The revocable trust lets the person control the assets when they are still alive. They can be shifted and there is flexibility. It can also be changed and revoked as desired. The irrevocable trust is not changeable and, as the name states, cannot be revoked. Creditors cannot access the assets in the irrevocable trust. A charitable trust will benefit a chosen charity or cause. This is useful for those who want to give back after they have gone.

For people who are considering ways to protect their assets, have control over them after death, ensure their beneficiaries have oversight, and are hoping to avoid the cost and waiting period for probate, it is wise to consider a living trust. A law firm that specializes in estate planning, drafting estate planning documents and can help with strategies should be called for assistance.

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