Metro Boston Trusts Lawyer
Minimize Probate Time and Expenses for the Beneficiaries of Your Estate
Trusts range from simple to complex and are used for a variety of different reasons, including asset distribution, asset protection, property investment, tax planning, avoiding probate, and more. A revocable living trust is likely to be a key component of your estate plan, and depending on your needs, one or more other types of trusts might serve you as well. Fisher Law LLC takes the time to understand your needs and explain how certain trusts might benefit you. We draft appropriate trusts to meet your needs and make sure your estate is handled according to your needs and goals. Call our office in Norwood to discuss the subject of trusts with a qualified and experienced Boston trusts lawyer.
What Exactly Is a Trust?
Simply put, a trust is a legal document used to transfer title to property from one party to another. Rather than convey the asset to the other person right away, however, the maker of the trust places the asset in the trust and names a trustee to manage the asset for the benefit of the person who will eventually get the property. When the time comes, such as the death of the trust-maker, the beneficiary will receive title to the property and own it outright.
There are many different types of trusts that each serve different purposes. Some of the most common kinds of trusts we create for our Norwood estate planning clients are revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts, and special needs trusts.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust allows you to set up a trust that passes title to the property you put in the trust from yourself to a spouse, child, grandchild, or another family member. You can continue to enjoy the use and control of trust property during your lifetime and can revoke the trust at any time; the title only passes to the beneficiaries after your death or at some later date that you specify in the trust. You can make yourself the trustee or add an additional individual to serve as co-trustee with you, as well as name a successor trustee(s) when you no longer can manage your financial affairs while you are alive or after your death.
Trust funds pass to the beneficiaries without going through probate, meaning they get their inheritance quicker and without any probate costs charged to the estate. Trusts are also private documents, as opposed to wills, which become public records when they are probated. So, if you want to keep who is getting what confidential and out of the public eye, a revocable living trust is the way to go.
Irrevocable trusts are also living trusts or inter vivos trusts, meaning you create them during your lifetime. As the name implies, these trusts can’t be changed once created; however, they can be drafted in a certain manner as to allow the trust maker, also called the Grantor, to rewrite the provisions of a trust through a will after he or she has passed. While the name implies that the trust cannot be revoked, Massachusetts law does provide for termination without court approval under limited circumstances. So, while the name may be off-putting, these types of trust provide many benefits, depending upon you and your loved ones objectives. There is not just one type of irrevocable trust. Depending upon the type of irrevocable trust that is created to achieve your goals, one advantage of using an irrevocable trust may be that it removes trust assets from being includable in your estate and thus reduces estate taxes, if applicable. An irrevocable trust may also protect trust assets from creditors who might look to seize assets whether the creditors are yours or your children’s/beneficiaries’, for example, as part of a divorce settlement. Irrevocable trusts also offer long term care benefits in that they shelter assets owned by an irrevocable trust from being counted to determine eligibility for MassHealth. So if you have been worrying about losing your hard-earned assets to the Massachusetts estate tax or federal estate tax, or depleting your assets to pay for long term health care, call Fisher Law to see if an irrevocable trust makes sense in your situation.
In a living trust, title to the property passes as soon as you fund the trust (the trustee holds legal title for the beneficiaries, who hold equitable title until they receive the trust property). With a testamentary trust, title to the asset passes at the death of the trust-maker. Testamentary trusts are easy to create and can be accomplished through a clause in the will.
A testamentary trust is commonly used when the heir is a minor child. The child’s inheritance is held in trust until the child turns 18 or 21, or even some other age at which the trust-maker feels the child will be ready to handle the inheritance responsibly. The testamentary trust can be used to manage assets for one specific child or all minor children together. This latter arrangement is called a family trust or pot trust. A specific type of testamentary trust called a spendthrift trust can be used to protect the trust funds from creditors and also keep the beneficiary from transferring his or her interest in the trust property.
Special Needs Trusts
If you have a minor or adult child (or grandchild) with disabilities, they might rely on government benefits such as Medicaid (MassHealth) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for food, rent, clothing, and other essential living expenses. Programs like these are means-tested and strictly limit how much income or assets a recipient can have and still be eligible for benefits. A special needs trust or supplemental needs trust is a way parents and grandparents can help support their child or grandchild without endangering their eligibility for public assistance. Trust funds can be used for better food, shelter or clothing, as well as education and enrichment activities, hobbies, travel with a companion, and more.
Get the Trusts You Need in Your Boston Estate Plan
Your estate plan will likely benefit from a revocable living trust and possibly other trusts as well. At Fisher Law LLC, we take the time to understand your needs and advise you on your options. We’ll create the right combination of trusts that make the most sense for you. Call Fisher Law LLC to discuss your estate planning goals with a caring and compassionate Norwood estate planning attorney.