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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

When a trust might be the better choice

Gregory A. Lang

When Minnesota residents sit down to put their final wishes on paper and decide how their estate will be handled, a will is not the only document to consider. Trusts may cost more to establish, but they can help families avoid the expense and time of the probate process. There are certain situations where a trust is the best choice and is well worth the investment.

Simplified probate is an option for smaller estates, but people with significant assets may want to consider a trust. If there is real estate located in other states, then a trust will help simplify the process for heirs later. Another benefit of a trust is that it can protect the privacy of the deceased and the heirs. Otherwise, the information in the will may be made public knowledge through court hearings. Trusts are also highly recommended whenever an individual wants to require that heirs meet certain criteria before receiving the funds.

People with special needs children are encouraged to establish a trust as this can provide for the ongoing financial support that individual may need. A direct inheritance may cause them to lose the government support they rely on, so working with a trust will also help families avoid larger issues later.

Deciding between a trust or a simple will can feel overwhelming, but an estate planning attorney can provide clients with more information and help them make the right choice. There are many issues to consider, including tax burdens, the impact of the inheritance on the heirs and the best way to ensure that certain conditions are met. While a simple will effectively designates which people will inherit different assets, a trust can take this process further. An estate planning attorney can also provide clients with advice regarding power of attorney designations, how to avoid probate and other steps that can be taken to preserve and protect property.

Source: Forbes, "Should You Have A Trust?", Erik Carter , September 12, 2014

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