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Can a trust help your loved ones avoid probate?

Your whole life you have focused on protecting and providing for your loved ones, and as you have gotten older, you realized you won’t be able to carry out those duties forever. It’s time to start planning for your future—and theirs.

Your children have always been competitive, so you have always been cautiously fair. And knowing an argument could ensue should one child feel they did not receive “their fair share” motivates you to do everything possible to ensure your will, power of attorney, trusts and other estate planning documents designate the distribution of your assets accordingly.

Understanding the probate process

The probate process has decreased in complexity over the last few years, as many states have simplified court proceedings. Now, the probate process typically becomes long and daunting only when heirs file a lawsuit—which is precisely the kind of family dispute you would like to prevent.

Creating a living trust can minimize, if not eliminate, the likelihood that your estate will go through probate. A trust enables you to create stipulations which might prohibit an heir from overspending or making questionable financial decisions. Furthermore, challenges are less likely to arise with property held by a trust.

What goes into creating a trust?

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you make your wishes clear through establishing a legally-binding trust.

To create a sound living trust, you should:

  • Name yourself as the trustee and choose your successor trustee wisely
  • Reissue property and assets in the trust’s name, rather than your own
  • Add newly-acquired assets in a timely manner

Depending on your family and financial situations, you may choose to establish more than one trust to distribute your assets once you pass away.

While it is difficult to have estate planning discussions with your designated beneficiaries, managing their expectations could help avoid arguments, jealousy or resentment. You may feel relieved knowing your wishes are outlined in your trust.

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