What is a trust?
A trust is simply a separation of the legal title of assets from the beneficial enjoyment of those assets. For example, the legal title of the asset is held in the name of a “trustee”, who is the person that manages the property held in a trust. The “beneficiary” is the person who is entitled to the beneficial enjoyment of the assets held in the trust; such as distributions of money for a particular purpose, or receiving funds to obtain an education or just paying for routine expenses. This means that the trustee is managing the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiary which creates a fiduciary relationship for the trustee in favor of the beneficiary. The trustee has the highest duty under the law to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.
Trusts as a part of your estate plan
Many people think of trusts as an estate planning tool of the very wealthy. Trusts, however, are used for a number of purposes. They can be created during the lifetime (an intervivos trust) of the person who creates the trust (who is called the settlor, grantor or trustor); or, a trust can be created at death (a testamentary trust) meaning that it is created by a person’s’ Will. Trusts are very useful estate planning tools because they can be used for many purposes including:
- Protection from creditors, often protection of separate property assets whenever a dissolution of marriage occurs
- Avoiding the need to create a guardianship for a minor or incapacitated adult by using a testamentary trust, or when that is unavailable, by creating a Section 1301 management trust via the Texas Estates Code.
- To qualify an otherwise ineligible person to receive public assistance by creating a Medicaid Income Trust (sometimes called a “Miller Trust”), or a special needs trust sometimes called a Supplemental Needs Trust,
- To provide for distributions to multiple generations of family members over a lengthy period of time,
- To make charitable gifts using complex estate planning techniques
Jeannine C. Flynn has the knowledge and the experience to assist you in incorporating the right trust into your estate plan to achieve your overall goal.