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Timing decisions regarding a trust

There are a variety of methods a person could use for distributing an asset or group of assets to their loved ones after their death. One is using a trust.

When it comes to using a trust to distribute assets to loved ones, there are many key decisions that will generally have to be made regarding the trust. One is what particular terms the trust will have regarding the distribution of assets placed in the trust.

Another is when to put the assets one wants distributed through the trust into the trust. The two main options in this regard are to put the assets into the trust during one's lifetime or to have the assets go to the trust upon one's death through including transfer-to-trust instructions in one's will. Each option can have its own particular set of implications.

The transfer-during-one's-lifetime option can affect what sorts of access one has to the assets after making the transfer to the trust, as the property will technically no longer belong to them but to the trust, and thus will be governed by the trust's terms. 

The transfer-through-a-will option, meanwhile, would generally expose the transferred assets to the probate process upon one's death.  

As this illustrates, timing decisions regarding the funding of a trust can have real implications. Thus, when it comes to these decisions and other key decisions regarding a trust, it can be important to keep in mind what one's overall goals for the trust are. Experienced estate planning lawyers can give individuals who wish to have a trust as part of their estate plan guidance on what sorts of things can impact what effects a trust would end up having and what things could help with getting a trust best aligned with one's goals for the trust. 

Source: FindLaw, "How Do I Put Money and Other Assets in a Living Trust?," Accessed April 11, 2016

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