A trust is a legal entity used to hold one’s property and assets for the benefit of one or more individuals. While trusts may be used for many different purposes (e.g., spendthrift protection, charities, asset protection, etc.), they are often a tool used in estate planning. The benefits of establishing a trust include privacy, reduced taxes, avoidance of probate, and restriction on how your estate is managed or spent after your death.
There are two types of trusts used in estate planning:
Living Trusts—A living trust is simply a trust you establish while you are still living. Living trusts may be revocable or irrevocable. (see Revocable Trusts/Living Trusts for more information)
Revocable—A revocable trust enables an individual to maintain control over the property in a trust by allowing changes to the terms of the trust and withdrawal of assets before death. Revocable trusts may be made irrevocable at any time.
Irrevocable—An irrevocable trust may not be changed or terminated. This may provide a tax shelter and prevent trust assets from being subject to death taxes.
Testamentary Trusts—A testamentary trust is established upon your death through a will. Testamentary trusts are considered revocable since they are set forth in a will which may be changed or amended at any time.