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The role of trusts in estate planning

It is easy to have the misconception that the use of trusts for estate planning purposes tilts toward upper-income people.

After all, popular images of asset transfer, as they occur in books and movies, typically turn on dramatic will contests or in-your-face acts of disinheritance.

Reality, however, is usually bit more prosaic, and not necessarily quite so filled with soap opera-style acts of betrayal. As we discussed in our recent article on trusts and estate plans, there are often very good reasons to include a trust in your planning process - even if you don't have loads of money.

Of course, as we explained in the article, a lot depends on a particular person's individual goals. But there are some commonly recurring scenarios for which it often makes sense to consider creating a trust, along with a basic will and a health care directive.

These objectives can include:

• Steady income steam for beneficiaries

• Mechanism for charitable giving

• Sheltering assets from creditors

• Pet trusts, for care of an animal

To be sure, there are numerous types of trusts that can potentially be created under the law. Lawyers are creative, problem-solving people who have found a host of inventive ways to use the form of trusts to accomplish their clients' ends.

For example, a revocable living trust is often a desirable element of an estate plan. It can be a way to avoid probate, and therefore save both time and expense in the transfer of assets after someone's death.

We invite you to read more about this and other types of trusts in our article.

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