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Choose the right trust for your estate plan

You've been looking for a way to manage your assets. You want to reduce the value of your estate and make it easier to pass on assets to your heirs and beneficiaries in the future. You want to shield your assets against creditors and prevent taxation.

It sounds like you'd like to use a trust. There are many different types of trusts to consider. Each one has different benefits and downsides, so choosing the right one is important.

Creating a trust is a good idea. It can:

  • Prevent your beneficiaries from having to pay estate taxes
  • Direct where you want your assets to go if the initial beneficiary passes away
  • Protect your assets from divorce or creditors
  • Help you avoid probate
  • Dictate where your assets will go once you pass away

Choosing a trust that is going to work for you will depend on what you want to do with it, which is why most people will work with their attorney to look into different options before deciding.

For example, you may want to have a living trust if you want to put assets into a trust while you're alive but have them transferred when you pass away. This kind of trust could:

  • Help you keep a business running without disruption if you suffer a disability or pass away
  • Protect your assets from incompetency or incapacity
  • Minimize the risk of a will contest
  • Put the responsibility for managing your property into someone else's hands

There are options, such as choosing a revocable or irrevocable trust. A living trust is a revocable trust that lets you make changes to it throughout your lifetime. It may keep your assets out of probate, but if your estate is of a high enough value, you may still end up seeing it taxed.

Irrevocable trusts are better in some ways, because you are taking assets totally out of your name. You won't be able to alter the trust after you create it, though, so you will lose control. On the positive side, your assets will be totally protected against creditors, probate and taxes.

It may not be immediately apparent which of these is best for you, but take some time to look into different trust options. You can have more than one, so if you find that some offer protections you want that others don't, there is no reason you can't use both to protect your estate.

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