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Living trusts can help middle-income families, too

If you were to take a poll of Washington residents and ask about trusts, many would answer: trusts are only for the rich. That may have been true several years ago, but today a living trust or other form of trust can be beneficial to many families who fall into the middle-income bracket. Trusts can help families reduce their tax exposure, as well as be used to protect and transfer assets. Just as importantly, trusts can be crucial in avoiding probate.

There are different types of trusts, and Seattle residents should consult with a professional before choosing one. In general, however, a trust can be set up to protect assets, and in that case, the assets are no longer owned by an individual. This action offers significant asset protection. Also, a trust can be set up to specify what the funds are to be used for: for example, college education or starting a business.

For families that have individuals with special needs, a trust can also help provide for that person when the time comes. In some cases, a trust can be set up to provide for yourself if you are worried you may become disabled or incompetent. Those types of trusts require that you appoint a trustee to handle your affairs for you.

As mentioned above, avoiding probate is also a good reason to set up a trust. Probate can be very expensive and time-consuming, and there is a risk that your wishes will not be the same as what the court decides. For these reasons, a trust can help ensure that things go smoothly for a lot of Washington families, not just the rich and famous.

Source: cnbc.com, "Should You Have Confidence in Trusts?" Dec. 5, 2011

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