Trusts help you control your property during your life or disability and after your death. Consult an attorney to set up the right kind of trust for your family and financial situation.
Among the many factors to consider when you set up a trust are:
- Who will serve as the initial trustee? The person establishing the trust can be the trustee.
- Who will serve as the successor trustee?
- Should you have a spouse, relative, close friend or an institution such as a bank serve as trustee?
- Should you have more than one person acting as trustee at a time?
- Who are your beneficiaries?
- Are there any descendants whom you do not wish benefit from the trust, either during your lifetime or after your death?
- If you do not have children, who would you like to receive the benefits of your trust? (For example, more extended family members, spouse’s family, parents, siblings, charities.)
- What would you like to have happen if one of the designated heirs predeceases you?
- Make an inventory of your assets.
- If you own a business interest, what is the form of the business? Do you have a succession plan for the business? If so, you should bring that with you.
- Have an inventory of your spouse’s assets.
- When and to whom should distributions be made?
- State the priority of distributions. (For example, provide for the care of my spouse and then to my children.)
- Are there specific gifts that should be distributed immediately after death? (For example, charitable gifts, specific items of property)
- What purposes do you want your distributions to serve? (For example, to pay your children’s or grandchildren’s college tuition.)
- If you want your assets distributed over time, do you prefer automatic payments or payments that the trustee determines in his/her discretion?
- When does the trust terminate? (When your spouse dies or remarries, when the children/grandchildren attain a certain age?)