You may have a living trust and think that you are done with your estate planning. That may or may not be the case. Trusts can take many forms. They could be complete or incomplete, appropriate or inappropriate. Here are some things to think about.
At the most basic level, is it up-to-date? Are there births or deaths in the family that need to be acknowledged? Have you named the correct person as your trustee? Are you still comfortable with those who are to inherit your estate?
Is your trust far too simple or “vanilla?” I have never met a family that is plain vanilla. Everyone has issues and special circumstances.
If your trust planning does not do all of the following, it should be reviewed and upgraded:
- Does your plan protect inherited assets if your children ever have a divorce?
- Does your trust maximize asset and litigation protection on behalf of your children?
- Does your trust avoid estate tax exposure for your children, your grandchildren, and perhaps more?
- Did you set up a proper protective trust for a child who is a spendthrift or is incredibly naive?
- Does a child or grandchildren have “special needs?” If so, did you establish a Special Needs Trust?
- Do you address the possible need for long-term care?
- Are asset protection planning options built into your plan?
You do not need to have a fortune to benefit from an appropriate, sophisticated, and comprehensive trust and estate plan. Put differently, an appropriately drafted trust can protect assets you built up over a lifetime and it can protect assets you leave your children and not allow them to be exposed or perhaps squandered.
Your trust and estate plan should be reviewed every couple of years. It must be reviewed by an attorney who truly understands trust, tax, and asset protection planning.
Above all, do not use a “one size fits all” trust service, regardless of whether it is offered by an attorney or online software.