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In many states across the U.S., including Texas, a growing trend has developed which encourages the use of Trusts as a part, or in place of, traditional estate planning. While attorney drafted trusts can be utilized effectively in a variety of situations, many questions exist for most clients about the nature of trusts, how they are used effectively, when they may not be appropriate, etc.
Chances are you’ve already heard a lot about the attributes of Living Trusts: avoiding probate and legal quagmires, sometimes lowering estate and/or income taxes and protecting privacy. Yet it’s also important to receive solid estate planning guidance before making final decisions, and to carefully weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks.
There is always the possibility there will be unhappy heirs and creditors on the prowl. Once a Living Trust is in place, it makes it extremely difficult for anyone to challenge your instructions for distributing your estate’s assets. Essentially, it protects the legacy you’ve left for yourself to enjoy while alive, and your loved ones to benefit from when you’ve passed away.
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An estate planning tool that can help individuals avoid the probate process after death is a living trust (also known as a revocable trust). A living trust accomplishes this by removing the individual's from his name into the trust. A trustee, which can be the individual, has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust for the beneficiaries of the trust. When the individual passes away, a successor trustee then takes over.
There can be advantages to creating a living trust, including: Avoiding probate Reducing cost and time in distributing an estate Estate tax exemptions can apply Assets can remain private and not part of public record Trust is revocable and amendable during the individual's lifetime
Through the use of Living Trusts, Wills (simple & complex), Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Irrevocable Trusts, Family Limited Partnerships, and Charitable Gifting Strategies, our firm helps families preserve their wealth for future generations, minimize estate taxes, and avoid the expense and nightmare of probate.
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The living trust is a tried and true means of avoiding probate of the homestead. A trust of this type should be distinguished from other kinds of land trusts-for example, a pure anonymity/asset protection trust that has no probate objectives, or an investor trust that contemplates short-term acquisition of investment property or a transfer of underlying ownership by means of an assignment of beneficial interest (described in the previous chapter as entry trusts and exit trusts, respectively).
There are three possible parts to the living trust process: (1) establishing the trust with a signed trust agreement; (2) executing and filing a warranty deed conveying the home into trust; and (3) executing a pour-over will to move miscellaneous assets into the trust upon death.
The trust agreement should state the trust’s purpose in general terms along the following lines: "to hold, preserve, maintain, and distribute the Trust Property for the benefit of the Beneficiaries, including but not limited to payment of expenses for their respective health, education, maintenance, and support as the Trustee, acting in his or her sole discretion, deems reasonable, prudent, and necessary." Texas law confers wide powers upon a trustee including selling and purchasing trust property.
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With a living trust, you can enjoy your assets during your lifetime and then pass them on to your heirs. But unlike a will, a trust doesn’t go through probate, so your heirs get their inheritance more quickly. A living trust does take more time to construct than a will and requires ongoing management, but for many of our clients, the advantages outweigh the inconveniences.
To discuss your options with one of our experienced attorneys, contact one of our conveniently located offices in Houston, Texas, to schedule a personalized FREE consultation.
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