August 15, 2023
In some respects, our personal trust service actually allows our clients to take BETTER CONTROL of their finances - more control than they could achieve without a trust.
Flexible living trusts are extraordinarily useful. The estate planning benefits, which generally include privacy and probate avoidance, are reasonably well known. As we see it, there’s no better way to manage and conserve one’s assets.
What a shame, then, that so many people fail to take advantage of trusts because of a fundamental misconception. “I know I probably ought to set up a living trust,” people will tell us. “But I don’t want to lose control of my assets.” They’re genuinely surprised when we show them how readily they can gain the benefits of a trust without any “tying up,” and without any loss of control.
In some respects, our personal trust service actually allows our clients to take better control of their finances—more control than they could achieve without a trust.
And we’re talking about real living trusts, not the print- out-a-set-of-forms-and-do-it-yourself variety that so often prove inadequate or useless.
Let’s start with the matter of keeping control.
You remain in charge
When our clients place investable assets in flexible trusts, they give us their instructions in an attorney-drawn trust agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, they retain the right to cancel the trust or change their instructions. Nothing’s tied up.
From a practical standpoint, then, our trust clients maintain exactly as much investment control as they wish, just like the clients who have their personal invest- ment accounts or IRAs with us.
Typically, we provide professional management or guidance tailored to each trust client’s needs and preferences.
In some cases, clients start off by managing their trust investments themselves—instructing us what they wish to buy or sell from time to time—while reserving the right to delegate this responsibility to us in the future.
Always, our role as trustee is to do exactly what our trust clients have instructed us to do. There’s no doubt whatsoever about who’s in control. If any client ceases to be satisfied with our services, he or she is perfectly free to terminate the trust or employ another trustee.
Which brings us to our second point . . . .
Our living trust clients don’t simply keep control. In certain respects they gain more control—greater control then they would enjoy if they weren’t taking advantage of our personal trust services.
For instance . . . .
- Greater freedom from financial chores. As a living trust client, you can free yourself to travel (or spend all your waking hours with your new grandchildren) by arranging to have household bills paid from your trust. If you wish, we’ll even see to the preparation of your annual income tax returns and pay your quarterly estimated taxes from your trust’s income.
- More effective planning. “Keeping control” isn’t an end in itself. To further your personal and family goals, you need to use that control effectively. As a living trust client, you have access to informed, responsive, financial planning assistance. Whether you’re looking to fund the grandchildren’s college educations or to support a favorite charity, we can help you select the methods that make the most sense—and perhaps improve your tax picture too.
- A strong adjunct to your will. A living trust may provide for beneficiaries just as a will does. The will may direct estate assets be added to the trust; outright gifts may be made from the trust; or assets may be held in further trust for certain beneficiaries. Thus, the living trust enables more flexible estate planning strategies. And trusts have another important advantage over wills—they are harder to attack by disappointed beneficiaries.
In case of a medical setback
No one can escape the risk of incapacitating illness or injury. In the event of incapacity, others must necessar- ily take control of your finances. Even so, a living trust allows you to pass control to a trustee of your choice—us, we hope. And in your living trust agreement, you establish the ground rules concerning how you want things handled.
Without a trust—and related arrangements, such as giving someone your power of attorney—it’s the probate court that decides who takes over in the event of incapacity. And the only ground rules are those set forth by impersonal law.
Like to learn more?
We’ve heard people who like to stay on top of things referred to as “control freaks.” Well, as you’ve just seen, control freaks will find a lot to like in a well-planned living trust. If you would like to learn more about our personal trust services and how they might help you do more with your financial assets, we invite you to meet with us in person.
We look forward to discussing your goals and requirements.