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In addition to the many other legal services I provide, I also do a great deal of work establishing trusts for my clients. Often times, you may not even be aware that you need to set one up at all, but through in depth consultation and a complete analysis of your financial situation I can determine which, if any, type of trust would be best for you.

In many cases you may not even know the definition of a “trust”, or realize that there is more than one type. Couple that with the fact that legal language and descriptions can be confusing it becomes critical to have these issues properly explained. This is extremely important to me. I feel it is essential that you walk away feeling comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you have an attorney in your corner that leaves no questions in your mind that you have done the right thing.

As far as a technical description, the term “trust” describes the holding of property by a trustee (which may be one or more persons or a corporate trust company or bank) in accordance with the provisions of a written trust instrument for the benefit of one or more persons called beneficiaries. A person may be both a trustee and a beneficiary of the same trust. A trust created by your will is called a testamentary trust and the trust provisions are contained in your will.

Sound confusing? Yes, it can be, and this is why it is critical to have these issues properly explained, with patience and care until you fully understand what the potential implications can be.

Let me go on.

If you create a trust during your lifetime, you are described as the trust’s grantor or settlor, the trust is called a living trust or inter vivos trust, and the trust provisions are contained in the trust agreement. The provisions of that trust document (rather than your will or state law defaults) will usually determine what happens to the property in the trust upon your death.

A living trust may be revocable (subject to change and terminated by the settlor) or irrevocable. Either type of trust may be designed to accomplish the purposes of property management, assistance to the settlor in the event of physical or mental incapacity, and disposition of property after the death of the settlor of the trust.

Trusts are an important part of a persons estate plan and not only for the wealthy. Many young parents with limited assets choose to create trusts either during life or in their wills for the benefit of their children in case both parents die before all their children have reached an age deemed by them to indicate sufficient maturity to handle property. This permits the trust estate to be held as a single undivided fund to be used for the support and education of minor children according to their respective needs, with eventual division of the trust among the children when the youngest has reached a specified age.

This type of arrangement has an obvious advantage over an inflexible division of property among children of different ages without regard to their level of maturity or individual needs at the time of such distribution.

Again, all of this is a mouthful, and although these descriptions are correct assessments of the facts, it is very easy to get confused. My practice is one where I work in cooperation with my clients, I talk with them, not at them and this is critical. You may think this is always the case, but sadly this is not so in a majority of law offices who deal with these issues. I take great care in developing relationships built on trust and communication because I believe that is what is needed when walking people through complex and difficult issues.

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