For those in Illinois who are preparing for the future by determining what kind of estate plan would be best-suited for them, it is often viewed as easier and more expedient to simply have a basic will. While in many cases, this is wise, there are other strategies that might be better. Trusts are just such a device. Some might be under the impression that trusts are only for those with significant income and assets. However, that is not true. When deciding whether to use a trust or not, having legal advice from a law firm that specializes in estate planning is a must.
A trust is a simple way to address assets after death. There are many to choose from, but the most commonly used trust for the widest range of people is a revocable living trust. With a revocable living trust, the grantor - the person who is creating the document for his or her assets - can detail the way the assets will be distributed after death. This has the ancillary benefit of avoiding probate. Since probate can be expensive and take considerable time, avoiding it is advisable.
Probate is the process in which a will's validity is determined. While there are devices other than trusts to avoid probate, a trust is not especially expensive. The grantor should put all assets that can be part of probate into the trust. When the grantor is still alive, he or she maintains control over it and its contents. Changes can be made when desired. It can even be revoked. There are parts of a trust that some would perceive as negative like the lack of tax benefits and no asset protection.
The trust allows the grantor to maintain some level of control after he or she has died. The trust will say precisely how the assets are to be distributed. The person receiving the assets might be limited in how much he or she gets at one time. There could be requirements to receive the assets. It can even be used to protect young children who are not yet old enough to understand how to handle finances. If there is a handicapped person or child, a special needs trust can address their needs.
The tax implications and financial worries are not irrelevant with a trust, so it is smart to discuss the viability and utility of a trust before moving forward with it. Perhaps there are better devices for a person's circumstances. Regardless, a law firm experienced in all areas of estate planning can give guidance and help when taking the next step and crafting the document.