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Different trust options exist to aid with estate planning

Estate planning can be unique to each individual and there are many estate planning tools available to meet different circumstances and needs. There are different types of trusts that may be set up for different purposes. According to one expert, trusts may provide greater asset protection and control over the distribution of assets, even including following death. Another benefit may be that, in general, living trusts are not subject to probate. A revocable trust may spare the family the publicity of a will and allow privacy to be maintained.

A living trust offers the benefit of control during the lifetime of the individual that drew up the trust but allows the assets to pass without going through probate upon the individual's death. A living trust can be used for asset protection and to protect the assets for future heirs. It can be revoked, or changed, by the party that created the trust if circumstances change and occasion the need for an accompanying change to the trust. The creator of the trust is the trustee and can name a successor trustee for trust administration after death.

Trustee selection can be important. As in the case of irrevocable trusts, which are often used for children or adults with diminished capacity who are beneficiaries of the trust, selection of a trustee can be an important consideration. Some individuals are using irrevocable trusts to protect future inheritances from the medical bills of the parents that may accumulate later in life. Unlike a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust, as the name might suggest, cannot be altered, changed, modified or revoked after it has been created.

There are many trust options for different situations and goals for the trust. Careful trust planning can take those factors into account to develop the best and most efficient estate plan for the each individual's circumstances.

Source: CNBC, "A matter of trusts: Benefactors, heirs and their advisors," Maureen Nevin Duffy, August 4, 2014

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