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What is a Trust, and What Are the Benefits of Having One?

What is a trust? Image of a lawyer and a client going over a contract.

When it comes to estate planning, there are different types of legal documents that can be used. One of the most common is a trust. But what is it, and why is it such an essential part of estate planning? This blog post will discuss what trusts are and explore some benefits they provide for estate planning.

What is a Trust? 

A trust is a legally enforceable document that can be used to hold and manage assets. The trustee is an individual or entity that manages the trust, and the beneficiaries are the people who benefit from the trust. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, which means they must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The most commonly used type of trust is the revocable trust. 

You may employ trusts in a variety of scenarios. To begin, you may utilize it to manage assets throughout your lifetime. Your trust is beneficial if you become disabled and cannot handle your affairs. Trusts may also be used to manage assets after you pass on. If you have little children, for example, you may wish to place their inheritance in a trust so that it is managed for them until they reach maturity.

Trusts can help you minimize your tax liability and bypass the probate procedure by guaranteeing that your assets are transferred straight to your heirs. Avoiding probate will also save your loved ones significant time and money.

Trusts can also be utilized to protect your assets. If you have substantial assets, you could choose to place them in a trust to shield them from creditors and lawsuits.

Who needs a trust?

There is no universal response to this question. Whether or not to establish a trust ultimately depends on your circumstances and goals. However, there are circumstances in which a trust may be very advantageous. For instance, if you have small children, want to avoid probate or own substantial assets you wish to safeguard, a trust may be a suitable alternative.

Consult an experienced estate planning attorney if you are contemplating establishing a trust so that they can help you assess if creating one is appropriate for you and assist you with establishing it.

How do you set up trusts? 

Setting up trusts depends on your exact situation and how you want to protect your assets. For example, if you want to create a living trust, you must execute a trust agreement and transfer your assets into the trust. 

Suppose you are setting up a trust for estate planning purposes. In that case, it is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the trust is created correctly and that your assets are properly transferred into the trust. 

Types of trusts.

What is a Trust? 

Four types of trust:

Revocable trust
Irrevocable trust
Living trust
Testamentary trust.

Trusts come in many forms, but they always have one thing in common: they may be used to transfer assets from one person to another. The following are the most common forms of trust:

Revocable Trusts:

The grantor can change or revoke these trusts at any time. The best time to use this type of trust is if you haven’t decided how your assets will be distributed when you pass on and want to have the flexibility to change your mind. 

-Irrevocable Trusts:

As the name suggests, once these trusts are set up, they can’t be changed or taken away. People often use this kind of trust to protect their assets. For example, people who own assets are ineligible for Medicaid, but if those assets are in an irrevocable trust, they won’t be counted as resources of the Medicaid applicant.  

-Living Trusts:

Also known as inter vivos trusts, these trusts are created during an individual’s lifetime. The trustee is responsible for managing the assets in the trust to benefit the beneficiaries. When the trustee passes on, the assets in the trust are distributed to the beneficiaries. 

-Testamentary Trusts:

These trusts are created after an individual’s death through their will. The trustee manages the testamentary trust assets for the beneficiaries benefit. 

Why create a trust?  

You may want to create trust as part of your estate planning for several reasons. Here are just a few: 

To save time and money: As we mentioned above, trusts can help you avoid probate. Probate can be lengthy and costly, so avoiding it can save your loved ones a lot of time and money. 

To keep your affairs private: The probate is a public affair, meaning anyone can access the probate court records and see how your estate was divided up. Trusts are excellent at helping you keep your affairs private. 

To manage assets during your lifetime: Trusts can be used to manage assets during your lifetime, which can be helpful if you become incapacitated and are unable to manage your affairs. 

To manage assets after your death: Trusts may also be used to manage your assets after you pass away. For example, if you have small children, you may wish to place their inheritance in a trust so that it is handled for them until they reach adulthood.

To protect your assets: Trusts can also be used for asset protection. If you have many assets, you may want to put them into a trust to protect them from creditors or lawsuits. 

Creating a trust is a big decision, and it’s not something that you should do without the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney. If you think trusts may be a good option, contact an estate planning attorney in your area to learn more.


There are also a few disadvantages to having trusts, which include: 

-The cost of setting up and maintaining trusts can be expensive. You will need to hire an attorney to help you set up the trust, and you will need to pay annual fees to the trustee. 

-Trusts can be complex and challenging to understand. If you have a complex trust, it can be difficult for your beneficiaries to understand how it works and their rights. 

These disadvantages are insignificant compared to the many advantages of having a trust, but it’s essential to be aware of them before you create one.


There are many advantages of creating trusts, which include the following: 

Asset protection: Trusts can also be used for asset protection purposes. If you have many assets, you may want to put them into a trust to protect them from creditors or lawsuits. 

Privacy: Another advantage of trusts is the fact that they offer privacy. Using trusts can help you keep your affairs private since probate is a public process. 

Ease of management: Trusts can also make it easier to manage your assets. If you have a trust, you can appoint a trustee to handle the day-to-day management of the trust assets. This can be helpful if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your affairs. 

Control: Trusts give you much control over how your assets will be managed and distributed. You can decide precisely how and when your assets will be distributed. 

Trusts have many other advantages, but these are some of the most common. If you consider setting up a trust, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney. Schedule a free consultation with the Devries law firm to decide which one is right for you.

Frequently asked questions.

Who can be a trustee?

The trustee is the person who manages the trust. The trustee can be an individual, a bank, or a professional trustee company. 

How long do trusts last?

The duration of a trust depends on its purpose. For example, trusts created for the benefit of your children may last until they reach a certain age. Trusts may last for years if it is created for asset protection. 

Can I be a beneficiary of my trust?

Yes, in some cases, you can be a beneficiary of your trust. For example, if you create an irrevocable trust, you can name yourself a beneficiary. 

Do I need to have a will if I have a trust?

yes, we recommend that you also have a will with your trust.  It is called a pour-over will, and will transfer any assets not previously titled to the trust.

How much does it cost to create a trust?

The cost of creating a trust depends on the type of trust and the complexity of your estate. Contact an estate planning attorney in your area for more information.

Can I change my trust?

Yes, you can change your trust. However, it is essential to note that changes to an irrevocable trust may not be possible. 

What happens if I die without a trust?

If you die without a trust or any other estate planning tool, your assets will likely have to go through probate. Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. 

Why would a person want to set up a trust?

There are many reasons why someone might want to set up a trust. Trusts can be used to save time and money, keep your affairs private, manage assets during your lifetime or after your death, and protect your assets from creditors or lawsuits. 

Who should I contact if I am interested in establishing a trust?

You should contact an estate planning attorney in your area to learn more about establishing a trust. Trusts can be complex legal documents, so it is crucial to have the advice of a qualified professional when creating one. 

Is having a trust worth it? 

The answer to this question depends on your circumstances. A trust may not be suitable for everyone, but a trust may be a good option if you have real property,  a complex estate, or want to keep your affairs private. 

What is the difference between a trust and power of attorney? 

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of another person, called the beneficiary. The power of attorneys is no longer valid at death.

What is the difference between a will and a trust? 

A will is a legal document that directs how your assets will be distributed after death. A trust is a legal document used to manage your assets during your lifetime and/or after death. 

Can I have more than one trust?  

Yes, you can have more than one. For example, you might have a revocable and an irrevocable. 

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