Asset protection for heirs. One of the most significant benefits of a living trust can be to protect inherited assets for heirs. For example, because minor children are not allowed by law to inherit property, a guardian is appointed by the state to hold the property for them until they reach the age of 18. Most parents would agree, however, that 18 is still too young to manage even a modest inheritance. Executing a living trust on the other hand, allows you to control how and when an inheritance is distributed and to name a trusted person to act as trustee. In addition, a living trust can be especially useful in protecting assets from spendthrift heirs, their creditors or a potential divorce, if it’s set up right.
Most living trusts I review have been set up to distribute assets outright to kids at age 21, 25, or 30 instead of keeping assets in trust for the life of the kids – and eventually giving the kids control of those assets. This type of planning is still fairly unknown to most attorneys, but can ensure that what you leave to your kids will not be at risk from any future divorces, lawsuits, bankruptcies or other creditor matters.
Ensure none of your assets are lost. The vast majority of the time a living trust is created, one of the most important and valuable aspects of creating the trust is lost — making sure that when you become incapacitated or die your loved ones stay out of Court and the assets you’ve worked so hard for make it to the people you want to have them.
If your assets are not titled in the name of your trust correctly, that won’t happen. Your loved ones will have to go to Court to take ownership and control of your assets. And, oftentimes, they may not even be able to find your assets. There are currently billions of dollars in assets sitting in the State Departments of Unclaimed Property because people die and their loved ones didn’t know what they had.
One of the things we do in our office is prepare a Family Wealth Inventory to ensure your assets are easily located by your family. As long as it is kept up to date (and we help with that, too) you’ll never have to worry that what you are working so hard to create will be lost when you are gone.
Plus, when you have a relationship with our office, we’ll make sure your loved ones know just what to do if anything ever happens to you.
Incentivize your children to grow your wealth, not squander it. As I mentioned, most trust plans are crafted to distribute assets outright to kids when they turn certain ages, whether they are ready for it or not. And chances are that if you die when your kids are still young, they will not be ready to fully inherit your wealth at an early age.
We recommend you use your living trust to properly prepare your children to receive their inheritance. That means allowing them to be a co-trustee for some period of time before receiving full control of their trust assets. It means introducing them to us, if we are your lawyer, so we can begin to help guide them during your lifetime and not wait until after you are gone.
You may also want to consider making small lifetime gifts into an irrevocable trust for their benefit so you can start to teach them how to grow the assets while you are living and enter into a partnership for creating more family wealth that can last for generations.
One of the main goals of my law firm is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today if you have a trust that hasn’t been reviewed recently or if you’re ready to get a comprehensive plan in place to protect your loved ones.