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Trusts: flexible and widely applicable estate planning tools

As noted in a recent article on estate planning, select trust instruments are eminently useful and powerful legal tools for still-living grantors that can be readily modified or revoked during their lifetimes.

As that article states, trusts command broad-based utility, indeed, having instant applicability and tremendous flexibility for use across a wide universe of planning concerns and considerations.

Consider, for example, a case where a grantor is thinking about the disposition of family assets. The grantor wants those assets to provide for a surviving spouse until that person also dies, with remaining trust principal to go to specified heirs. A trust can do that.

And a lot more. Trust proceeds can be slated to be paid out in specified amounts at specified times, such as when a child marries or starts a business, when a grandchild is born or when a favorite nephew or niece begins paying back college loans.

And it is hard to imagine a more apt planning tool than a trust to provide for a loved one with special needs. Because the trust principal is not legally owned by the beneficiary, it isn’t counted as assets that can compromise eligibility for valuable government entitlement programs, such as Supplemental Security Income.

As noted above, a key feature of a revocable trust is its ease in being adjusted by a grantor any time prior to his or her death. That provides for flexibility that is simply unrivaled by other estate planning instruments.

As for securing guidance on trusts and other planning tools, the above-cited article makes the obvious recommendation to “find a local, experienced estate-planning lawyer for specific legal advice.”

Timely and well-considered planning can yield a number of salutary results.

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