Berman & Asbel, LLP

When to use a trust

Wills and trusts are frequently used for estate planning documents. Pennsylvania residents concerned about which to use for their assets should know of the situations in which using a trust would be more beneficial.

If there is a desire to preserve privacy, a trust should be used. If a will is used to allocate certain assets, your estate is most likely to undergo the probate process, which can take a long time to complete. The documents used in probate are part of the public record and can be easily viewed at the local courthouse. If there are assets located in multiple states, using a trust can prevent the necessity of having to go through the probate process in each state. This is a good way to make the administering of an estate less complicated.

A trust can also allow an individual to have much greater control of the inheritance process than a will allows. Rules can be established to regulate when and how assets are distributed to heirs. For example, trustees may only be allowed to use the assets for specific purposes. The inheritance can also be set up so that a certain portion is only distributed when an heir reaches a certain age. If an individual prefers to distribute part of his or her estate to a philanthropic organization, using a trust can ensure that this is done efficiently. It is also beneficial tax-wise to the individual while he or she is still alive.

Trusts are more sophisticated than wills, and, in certain situations, they are the ideal way to plan one's estate. They can also to help ensure that an inheritance is used the owner of the assets intended. An attorney that practices estate planning may be able to advise a client on when it is more beneficial for him or her to start a trust.

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