The use of trusts in estate planning

While many Oklahoma residents who are contemplating estate planning mainly think of a will as the beginning and end of the process, there are a variety of ways for people of all income levels to preserve and protect their assets for future distribution to their heirs. One such method, which can serve as either a complement to a will or as the primary estate planning document, is the use of a revocable living trust.

Such a document can be used for a variety of purposes, and in its basic form, it is an agreement that you create during your lifetime and which you can amend and revoke at any time. You can choose to contribute any type of property, whether real or personal, to the trust, and it will be managed by the named trustee, which, in a living trust, can be the grantor or a third party, for the benefit of the beneficiaries named therein. As the grantor, you continue to be entitled to the use of the property during your lifetime, and upon your death, the trust property will be distributed to the named beneficiaries directly without first having to go through what is often an expensive and time-consuming probate process.

Such a trust can serve as an effective addition to your comprehensive estate plan in several ways. In addition to the avoidance of probate for the assets owned by the trust, you can choose to have your will contain language providing for any of your remaining assets to be poured over into the trust upon your death. This would allow your will to also separately provide for bequests to beneficiaries not named in the trust, such as a charitable donation to a tax-exempt entity.

There are many other estate planning vehicles, such as a living will or health care power of attorney, that may be suitable for your particular circumstances. We invite you to visit our website page on trusts for further information.

Source: Ball and Morse, "Wills and Trusts", September 05, 2014

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