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How to Choose the Right Trusts When Developing an Estate Plan


An important aspect of the estate planning process can be setting up trusts to hold certain assets for future (or current) beneficiaries. When it comes to developing trust, however, there are a variety of options.

To find out which trust(s) is (or are) best for you, your estate plan, and your beneficiaries, here are the main factors to consider:

  • When do you want the trust to take effect – More specifically, do you want the trust to begin during your lifetime or after you pass away? This decision can inform whether you need to set up a living trust (also referred to as an inter vivos trust) or not. A follow-up question to this can be whether you want the trust to take effect upon a certain event (e.g., an accident, death, marriage, etc.), as this can help start to frame the terms of the trust.
  • Whether you want to maintain any degree of control over the trust – Going hand-in-hand with the above consideration, if you want to keep some control over the trust, setting up a living trust will be necessary. With living trusts, you can customize the provisions to retain (or give up) as much control as you want, and that could put you in (or out of) the position to alter the beneficiaries, the trust’s holdings, or other aspects in the future.
  • Who the beneficiaries are – Once you’ve determined whether you need living trusts (or some combination of living trusts and other trusts), another important element to think about as you select the right trust for your estate plan is who you want to designate as heirs to that trust. This is key because there may be a trust option specially designed to suit your chosen beneficiaries. For instance, while special needs trusts can be ideal choices for those who want to devise a trust to protect their special needs children or other loved ones, charitable trusts can be preferable when the beneficiary may be a charity, school, or some other institution.
  • The assets that will be used to fund the trust – While a number of different types of assets can be transferred into trusts to fund them, for certain assets – like life insurance policies, for instance – again, there may be special trusts already available to protect and distribute these types of assets.
  • Your primary goals – Do you want the trust(s) to protect your legacy in the future? Or do you want them to financially support certain loved ones while minimizing those beneficiaries’ probate or estate tax obligations? The why driving your efforts to develop the trust(s) will also be crucial to understand in order to ensure you select the right trust(s) for your estate plan.

Need More Answers? Contact a Santa Clarita Estate Attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

When you are ready for experienced help developing, revising, or administering an estate plan, it’s time to contact a trusted Santa Clarita estate attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman. Since 1980, our respected legal professionals have been dedicated to providing people with personalized, highly responsive service, as well as superior representation for their important legal matters.

To find out more about how we can help you with your estate planning and/or probate needs, contact our firm by calling (818) 892-7093 or by filling out the contact form on this page.

From our offices based in North Hills, we provide the highest quality legal services to our clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, and the greater Los Angeles area.

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