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Travel trusts can leave a legacy of meaningful experience

Kent readers may have tuned into previous discussions about the increasing trend toward using estate planning as a vehicle for imparting social and ethical values to younger generations. Those with a passion for culture and travel or those with a desire to maintain international family bonds might be interested in considering a form of revocable trust designed just for that purpose.

A revocable trust offers a flexible and reliable way to avoid the expensive and cumbersome probate process. Because trusts can be designed with a broad range of restrictions or conditions upon the use and distribution of funds, they offer an opportunity for grantors to impart purpose to the use of trust assets. Trusts may also offer estate tax advantages and protection against claims by a beneficiary's creditors.

For some families, the 'travel trust' provides a convenient and effective tool to ensure that the next generation enjoys the opportunity to pursue meaningful experiences. For one family, a step-father's dinner table pledge has meant a lifetime of opportunity for children living in America to visit family in Israel. Thanks to trust funds, the American relatives have been able to attend important family functions such as weddings. Even though the step-father has passed away, the impact of his legacy lives on with his wife acting as trustee and ensuring that distant family remains connected.

Many travel trust grantors may want to fund a trust in order to encourage heirs to connect with their cultural heritage or extended international family. Others may want to promote educational or volunteer experiences abroad. Still others will simply want to give their heirs the opportunity to travel for personal pleasure and enrichment.

A thoughtfully drafted revocable trust can prove an invaluable and highly adaptable estate planning tool. The terms of a trust can be changed at any time during the grantor's lifetime in order to reflect changing life circumstances or the changing wishes of the grantor. Whether a grantor wishes to promote travel experiences or fund some other specific activity, a revocable trust can provide the means to the end.

Source: Daily Reporter, "Travel trusts can fund trips for beneficiaries: Where there's a will, there's 'away'," Karen Schwartz, Aug. 14, 2012

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