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In many estate plans, trusts provide for assurance, flexibility

One legal instrument associated with estate planning that many individuals and families do not fully understand is the trust, and for understandable reasons.

First, there is no such thing as a single trust, which is created for one purpose. Rather, there is a veritable world of trusts unto themselves, which, collectively, can creatively and optimally promote estate interests across the broadest spectrum of possibilities.

And, second, it is not uncommon for many people to assume that, where trusts are concerned, it’s a one-or-the-other proposition. That is, a common perception held by many persons and families is that, if a trust is executed, other estate planning vehicles cannot be employed to safeguard and allocate wealth.

Thankfully, that is far from the truth, with many estates creatively fashioning one or a number of trusts in tandem with other planning devices to fully promote effective estate planning. When it comes to securing and transferring wealth, as well as protecting the interests of loved ones, millions of families have found that trusts can be among the most valuable estate planning tools in existence.

One recent media article discusses the planning device known as a living trust, which is an instrument that is created and fully operative during the lifetime of a settler (the creator of the trust) and is crafted to support another person or institution.

Creating this type of trust can help its maker avoid the probate process, steer off the possibility of a will challenge, keep confidential information about an estate out of the public record, and promote a variety of other aims.

As the article’s authors note, candid conversation with and close assistance from a proven estate planning attorney is vital to fully understanding what options should be considered and employed in any given case. That includes consideration of one or more trust vehicles.

As the authors duly point out, every situation is unique.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Elder law: The pros of having a living trust," Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, July 28, 2013

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