An estate trust is a legal device that take ownership of your assets while you are still living. This means that you still have control over the assets of this trust while you are alive, and you can get rid of the trust at any time. Estate trusts allow you to specify how and when you want your assets to be distributed. They are generally used to help reduce taxes for your beneficiaries, and often allow you to work around the potential problem of Probate.
Appointing a Trustee
If desired, you can appoint a Trustee to manage your estate trust for you. Your Trustee will make investment decisions on your behalf and with your consultation, and will manage the different types of assets in your estate trust. You can give this Trustee as much direction as you like, and are free to change Trustees at any point so long as you are alive.
In selecting a Trustee to manage your estate trust, you should of course, pick someone you trust to responsibly manage your finances. You may choose a beneficiary under your Will to act as this Trustee (such as an adult child), but make sure this situation is acceptable to any other children or beneficiaries in your Will who stand to benefit from the trust. You can also choose to appoint a friend, family member, or institution to be your Trustee for your estate trusts – and you may also appoint “joint trustees” to manage your estate trusts. Remember, however, that institutions typically charge a fee for this type of service.
Your appointed Trustee should have at least some experience handling financial matters, and should be familiar with the type of investment strategy you are most comfortable with.
Don’t Forget a Will …
Remember: if you create an estate trust, you still need to create a personal Will to cover anything not held by the estate trust. This is absolutely necessary if you have minor children who will need to have a Guardian appointed for their ongoing care so long as they are dependants.
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