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What is a living trust, and what can it offer me?

With so many different estate planning documents, it can be difficult to keep them all straight. While many people are familiar with a will and what that offers, other documents, like a living trust, are sometimes overlooked because people do not understand how the document may benefit them.

A living trust is an estate planning document designed to avoid probate proceedings, which can be expensive and time-consuming. A living trust can also provide a more private way to pass on assets. This is because living trusts are not public record the way probate is.

You, the grantor, may create this document so that one person, called a trustee, can manage your property for another person, called the beneficiary. In many cases, you do not need to appoint someone to be your trustee. A living will is created while you are alive, so you can be both the grantor and the trustee.

The items you place into a living trust are up to you. However, they may include assets from your bank accounts, non-retirement investment accounts, personal effects, business interests, real estate and others.

In addition to avoiding probate and maintaining privacy, other benefits of creating a living trust can include:

  • Reducing estate taxes
  • Holding money for minor children or adults who are not fiscally responsible
  • Keeping assets in the family
  • Ensuring assets will be managed if you become incapacitated

Although there are many benefits to creating a living trust, there is a notable amount of paperwork involved with setting it up and adding assets to the trust. Still, a living trust can be worth the paperwork because it offers estate planning benefits that other documents, like a will, do not offer.

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