Berman & Asbel, LLP

The benefits of a trust

When Pennsylvania residents are interested in ensuring that they will be able to leave their assets to family members in a particular way, a trust may be recommended to them. Wills can name certain individuals to receive a person's assets, but those assets are distributed in a lump sum. Trusts give people greater options in how property is doled out.

The way trusts are set up is that are assets put into a trust and people are designated as beneficiaries who will have access to the trust or have the money used on their behalf. A trustee is the person in charge of the trust and is responsible for distributing out its assets.

Another benefit of trusts is that people can define how assets from them are used. Someone may earmark funds for education, the purchase of a home or starting and running a business. Individuals may also set up trusts so that funds can only be accessed after a beneficiary achieves a goal or a condition is met, such as reaching the 21st birthday or graduating from college.

Along with wills and trusts, which are designed to determine how and who will get someone's assets, estate planning also can involve naming trusted people to make choices for another individual. Powers of attorney can enable an agent to do everything from making medical choices for a person to managing their finances. These documents can specifically outline what an agent can and cannot do and when they are allowed to perform these actions. A lawyer could explain how a variety of estate planning documents work.

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