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What is a Trust?

Revocable Living Trusts

Overview
A Trust is a distinct legal entity capable of holding and owning property for the benefit of its Beneficiaries.

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
(1) 
Probate treatment - Property distributed through a Will is legally required to go through Probate court (expensive & time-consuming). Conversely, property held in a Trust, at the time of your death, avoids Probate.
(2) Longevity - A Will exists for a limited time. It distributes property upon your death and that's it. However, a Trust can manage and distribute property for as long as you instruct (or your assets provide). If you have minor children, they could have their needs addressed under the management of a Trustee. Likewise, you could have any distribution of funds withheld until your children reach a more suitable age.
(3) Breadth of purposes- There is more that can be done through a Trust than a Will. Trusts are instruments with far reaching abilities. For example, Trusts can be devised to protect beneficiaries from creditors or they can preserve government benefits for beneficiaries with special needs. Trusts are powerful legal instruments with far-reaching advantages.

Avoid Probate!
Probate is a court-controlled process with mandatory fees based on the size of your estate. These fees are set by Missouri law. Even for small estates, forming a Trust is typically less expensive. Likewise, Probate court typically requires hiring an attorney and jumping through a lot of hoops. Probate can delay the distribution of your assets by several months to over a year. In short, Probate can be a headache. For most people, it is simpler and less expensive to have a Trust formed. 

What Are the Benefits of a Trust?

1. Financial Savings. You avoid the costs and headaches of Probate.

2. Peace of Mind. Provide for the long term care of Beneficiaries--particularly relevant for those with minor children, special needs family members, or elderly dependants. 

3. Privacy. When property is in a trust, ownership/benefits will be discreetly transferred. Probate court is a matter of public record.

4. Freedom. You retain the ability to modify or eliminate the trust.

5. Flexibility. 
You can move property in and out of the trust, during your lifetime. 

6. Control of Assets. You maintain greater control over the distribution of your assets. For example: beneficiaries can receive maintenance for their needs while they are minors and then receive distributions of the principal gradually (1/3 at age 21, 1/3 at 25, and 1/3 at 27).

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The Law Office of David S. Schleiffarth, LLC

Estate planning attorney, specializing in: wills, trusts, financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, advance health care directive, beneficiary deeds, and more. Serving St. Louis County and the greater St. Louis metro area. 


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