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Getting Your Estate Planning off the Ground with a Trust

When many people think of estate planning, they might first think of drafting a last will and testament. While a will is a critical estate planning document, there are other legal tools that can work to protect your estate and the interests of your beneficiaries. One common tool that can benefit many people is a living trust.

What is a Trust?

A living trust is a legal tool that you create while you are still alive. You must draft a thorough trust document that designates a successor trustee and provides instructions for the trustee. You will be able to manage and access your own trust property until you become incapacitated or pass away, when your successor trustee will need to step in and take over.

You transfer property and assets to the ownership of the trust, and your trust document should detail how you want that property to be distributed after your death. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage and distribute the trust property in accordance with your instructions.

Benefits of a Trust

The primary benefit of a trust is that trust property does not need to go through the probate process. Instead, the property is directly distributed by the trustee, which can simplify probate significantly. This can save your estate and family members money and time.

In addition, a trust gives you greater control over how your property will be distributed. If property is distributed through a will, your beneficiaries will receive their share all at once. Lump-sum distributions might not be ideal if your beneficiaries are young or not quite financially responsible. If you are concerned about money management, you can instruct for distributions to take place over time, protecting the funds. You can also base distributions on certain conditions, such as graduating from college.

A living trust can also be advantageous if you become incapacitated prior to your death. Having a trust means that your successor trustee will have the authority to manage the trust property, and it can prevent the need for a guardianship case, which can be stressful and costly.

Probate cases are also public records, but a living trust is not. Therefore, distributing your property through a trust instead of a will can keep your property – and your beneficiaries’ distributions – confidential. Overall, creating a trust as the basis of your estate plan can give you peace of mind and save resources in many different ways.

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Estate Planning Lawyer Today

At the law firm of Bruntrager & Billings, P.C., our legal team regularly works with clients to form trusts and develop a comprehensive estate plan that suits their needs and achieves their financial goals. If you would like to discuss the possible benefits of a trust in your situation, please feel free to consult with our St. Louis estate planning attorneys. Call 314-646-0066 or contact us online to learn more about your estate planning options and how we can assist you.

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