What You Need to Know about Trusts

Generally, if you own property, have life insurance and/or have other assets which total over $150,000 (including life insurance and real property), you are a candidate for asset protection.

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What to know about Trusts and estate planning
Estate planning is a critical part of the retirement planning process. As we kick off the new year, this is a perfect time to ensure that your plan is up to date.
Things change over time. That includes our lives, our family, and even the laws that apply to estates. This means the wills, trusts, and other estate documents that protect our families and secure our legacies may need to change, too.
With that in mind, we’re thrilled to have Keith McManus, attorney at McManus Estate Planning, back on the podcast. In our conversation, we discussed the downside of not reviewing and updating your estate plan, different ways to protect your biggest asset such as the family home, and the pros and cons of life estates and much more.
In this podcast discussion, you’ll learn: 
  • Reasons why a “set it and forget it” strategy can put your estate at risk.
  • How to take advantage of incredible opportunities before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act sunsets in 2025.
  • Why you may want to prepare estate plans to protect young adult children, even if they haven’t accumulated much wealth yet.
  • What it means to create a life estate–and the potential risks and benefits of this approach to retirement.
  • Why there’s no such thing as a cure-all trust–and how this makes estate planning more important than ever.
  • Why you never want to rely on a will as the backbone of your estate plan.

What to know about Trusts?  First, know that some people think that trusts and estate planning are just for wealthy people. However, that’s simply not true. Many people are good candidates for trusts, used to protect their assets and their families. Trusts can also be used to avoid probate, says the article “Common misconceptions about trusts” from the Rome Sentinel.

Who controls my property? The grantor, or the person setting up the trust, has the option of being a trustee, if they are setting up a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. There are tax differences, so you’ll want to do this working closely with Attorney McManus.  There are many types of trusts, each with their own benefits and limitations.  For the most part, the “grantor” [typically this is you] names who is in control of the trust, who owns the property within and sets the document in place.  The decisions you make while reviewing options with Attorney McManus will determine how the Trust works and who controls the assets in it.  Here is more on ‘what to know about trusts’.

Trusts can help people of all income and asset levels. Anyone who owns a home [even one with a mortgage on it], or has life insurance or nearly any other assets can benefit from the protection that a trust provides. The type of trust depends on a number of factors.  Trusts are not all the same.  There is a great variety of trusts.  Your goals, asset level, family situation, age, health, exposure to risk are all factors.

Can I access assets in a trust?  Yes!  Unless you want the kind of trust that separates you from your assets to achieve a certain goal, you can create a trust that lets you access the assets in it.

Can my children or any others take assets from the trust? Not unless this is how you designed it.  For most people, children and other beneficiaries are typically not allowed to reach assets you placed in your trust.  Often, the trust documents will describe circumstances where your loved ones can use money in the trust to help pay for your expenses, like if you are incapacitated.  The person who has the power to use trust funds, sign checks and move around assets is typically the Trustee.  Usually, clients opt to name themselves as trustee so long as they are alive and healthy.

Trusts are not one size-fits all. Trusts need to be created to serve each family’s unique situation. Attorney McManus will work with you to determine your goals, and then apply his knowledge and expertise to draft a trust that meets those goals.

Reference: Rome Sentinel (May 31, 2020) “Common misconceptions about trusts”