If you want to avoid probate, tax liability, or creditor claims that could interfere with your wishes after your death, putting some or all of your assets in a trust may be in your best interests. However, building an effective trust can be a complicated process, especially if you try to do it alone.
A seasoned estate planning lawyer could help you understand your options and ensure your assets are protected in accordance with your goals for the future. If you are beginning the process of trust planning in Cary, reach out to a knowledgeable attorney for guidance.
It is important to select a trust that fits your estate planning goals and needs. There are many options under the law, each of which offers different benefits and drawbacks. One of the most common types of trusts are living trusts. These tools are designed to go into effect immediately and provide for beneficiaries after the trust creator’s passing.
Trusts could also exist for the benefit of specific groups, such as a charitable trust to support a specific cause. Other options could be used to protect assets from creditors, provide for the education of a loved one, or even support a beloved pet following the death of the trust’s creator.
There are many preliminary steps in the trust planning process before a prospective settlor can draft any legally binding documents. First, they will need to make a comprehensive and accurate list of all the assets in their estate. This may include:
Next, they must gather any related documentation such as property titles and deeds, insurance policy paperwork, and stock certificates. Even if a settlor does not intend to place all their property in a trust, they should still include everything they own in this initial appraisal to make sure they can take full advantage of their legal options.
Next, the settlor must decide who will fulfill various roles within their trust. This includes naming one or more beneficiaries, as well determining the trustee who will manage the trust after they pass away. The settlor should also determine if they wish to form the trust alone or with a domestic partner who shares jointly owned property.
Finally, if a trust names a minor child as a beneficiary, it is important to nominate someone who will manage their inherited property until the minor child either becomes old enough to take control of it themselves or has access to the inherited property at specified ages that the settlor has stipulated. Once all these pre-planning steps are complete, a Cary resident can begin the process of drafting trust documents with the help of a dedicated attorney.
The process of forming a trust can vary depending on whether it is revocable or irrevocable. If a trust is meant to serve a specific purpose, such as reducing tax obligations or preserving assets for grandchildren, it may also have different requirements. Working with a skilled lawyer is critical in ensuring the written terms of a trust accomplish the settlor’s goals and comply with all applicable state and federal laws.
Regardless of the type of trust, it does not become enforceable until the settlor signs it in the presence of a notary public and transfers assets to “fund” it. Once this is done, the trust is a binding legal document and will typically remain that way until the settlor’s death.
If a trust does not comply with state law, it is possible for an interested party to contest its administration. It could be possible to invalidate a trust based on the creator’s lack of capacity or allegations of fraud.
While challenging a trust is possible, only certain individuals have the right to do so. This right is limited to beneficiaries under the trust or those who would inherit from the estate if the trust is invalidated. It is important for trust creators and trustees to work with dedicated legal counsel to ensure that the trust is valid and legally enforceable.
In many cases, the trust planning process does not end once the documents are drafted and signed. Many trusts may be changed without court intervention while the creator is alive. People may wish to alter their trusts due to various life circumstances that alter their goals and intentions for their property after their passing. Like with all estate planning tools, it is recommended that you review your trust beneficiaries and terms following life-changing events like divorces, births, or deaths in the family.
The information above is a broad summary of important considerations when preparing your trust. For a more in-depth explanation of trust planning in Cary, speak with an experienced attorney about your unique circumstances.
With a supportive legal professional by your side, you will have a much easier time forming and executing your estate plan. Call today to schedule an initial meeting.