Trust Based Planning
No matter how large or how small, upon death everyone has an estate. Your estate is comprised of everything you own; your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. To whom your estate is distributed depends on what you did before you died. In other words, your estate can be passed on by a Last Will and Testament, through a Trust, or according to the intestate laws because you had neither a Will nor a Trust. In order to ensure that your hard-earned assets pass to your chosen beneficiaries, it is imperative that you have either a Will or a Trust.
Trust-based estate planning is much more than naming who you want to receive the things you own after your die. Trust-based estate planning should also:
- Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
- Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
- Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
- Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
- Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
- Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
- Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
- Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
- Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.