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What is a Trust?

A trust is traditionally used for minimizing estate taxes but can offer other benefits as part of a well-crafted estate plan.

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.

Since trusts usually avoid probate, your beneficiaries may gain access to these assets more quickly than they might to assets that are transferred using a will.

Benefits of trusts include:

Control of your wealth. You can specify the terms of a trust precisely, controlling when and to whom distributions may be made. Revocable trusts allow trust assets to remain accessible to you during your lifetime while designating to whom the remaining assets will pass; thereafter, providing simplification of complex situations while retaining control.

Protection of your legacy. A properly constructed trust can help protect your estate from your heirs’, creditors, or from beneficiaries who may not be skilled at money management.

Privacy and probate savings. Probate is a matter of public record; a trust may allow assets to pass outside of probate and remain private, in addition to possibly reducing the amount lost to court fees and taxes in the process.

Terms Defined:

Trust: A trust is a legal relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another.

Trustee: An individual or corporate fiducuary given control or powers of administration of property in trust with a legal obligation to administer it solely for the purposes specified.

Beneficiary: A person for whom a trust was created, and who receives the benefits of that trust.

Estate:  Any and all interests, ownerships, and possessions belonging to an individual.  Trust property may include any type of asset, such as cash, securities, real estate or life insurance policies.

Executor: An individual or institution appointed in a Will to carry out the specified orders of the Will.

Fiduciary: An individual or institution that ethically owes to another the duties of good faith, trust, and acting in one’s best interest.