Robert MeisWhile there are a number of different estate planning mechanisms available, one of most popular is an inter vivos (living) trust.  Like a will, an inter vivos trust can transfer your assets at your death, but there are also many differences.

Key advantages of a trust include that, so long as all of your estate assets are titled in the name of your trust, you can avoid probate.  Avoiding probate ensures that your assets and your distribution plan are kept confidential and you avoid the expense of probate.

Trusts are also much more flexible than wills.  Trusts can continue for many years (and in some states, like South Dakota, they can continue forever) without being distributed.  That allows you to not distribute assets until a beneficiary reaches a certain age, or you could authorize the trustee to provide trust benefits to a beneficiary without ever giving that beneficiary control over any assets (which serves to protect your assets from being taken by creditors of that beneficiary).

Karrie HruskaTrusts can initially be more expensive than a will because trusts can take more time to draft and it is necessary to transfer assets into the name of the trust.  They can, however, be less expensive at your death because you could avoid probate costs and fees.  It is important to ensure that all of your estate assets are titled in the name of the trust or it might be necessary to open a probate even if you had a trust.

As trustee of your trust, you retain all control over the trust assets during your lifetime.  You can amend a revocable inter vivos trust at any time you are competent to do so.

There are many different options available for estate planning.  To discuss what Estate Planning tools are best for you, contact one of our estate planning attorneys: Robert Meis or Karrie Hruska.