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Understanding Trusts

Wills and trusts are two very different types of estate planning documents. Aside from this, there are a multitude of trusts that you can create, from revocable and irrevocable trusts to living and testamentary trusts. This is your resource for learning about the different types of basic and advanced trusts used in estate planning.

What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal agreement that has three parties to it: the Trustmaker, the Trustee, and the Beneficiary.

What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is the fiduciary put in charge of overseeing property owned by a trust. A Trustee can either be an individual or an institution such as a bank or trust company.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts
When it comes to understanding trusts, knowing the difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts is crucial. If you ask for a revocable trust and get an irrevocable one, or vice versa, the legal and tax consequences will be significant.

Testamentary vs. Living Trusts
When you're putting your estate plan together, you'll need to understand the difference between testamentary trusts and living trusts.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that is created by an individual, called a Trustmaker, to hold and own the Trustmaker's assets, which are in turn invested and spent for the benefit of the Trustmaker by an individual or institution called the Trustee.

Living Trust vs. Revocable Trust vs. Revocable Living Trust
When it comes to understanding trusts, it's important to understand that the name of the trust usually doesn't matter. What matters most is what the written trust agreement says.

How Does a Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate?
Another common way to avoid probate is to establish and fund a Revocable Living Trust.

What are the Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?
When it comes to deciding whether or not you should set up a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan, you'll need to understand the three main benefits that a Revocable Living Trust offers over a Last Will and Testament.

Pros and Cons of Revocable Living Trusts
When considering whether or not to include a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan, you'll need to understand the pros and cons of using a trust instead of just a Last Will and Testament.

Revocable Trust Myths
Throughout my years practicing as an estate planning attorney, I've run across some common misconceptions that people have about Revocable Living Trusts. Learn what these common myths are and if you've fallen for any of them.

Can a Creditor Take Assets Held in Your Revocable Living Trust?
Does transferring your assets into a Revocable Living Trust protect them against creditors, lawsuits, and divorce? The answer to this question is a resounding NO - a Revocable Living Trust offers absolutely no asset protection for your property. Find out why.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?
An Irrevocable Trust is one that by its design can't be amended, modified, changed or revoked. In other words, once an Irrevocable Trust has been created, the written terms of the trust agreement are generally written in stone and can't be tweaked for any reason in the future.

What Does a Disability Trustee Do During Incapacity?
In setting up your Revocable Living Trust, you'll be asked to name a Disability Trustee to administer your trust in the event you become mentally incapacitated. Learn what a Disability Trustee is required to do when administering your trust during your incapacity.

What Does a Successor Trustee Do After the Trustmaker Dies?
In setting up your Revocable Living Trust, you'll be asked to name a Successor or Administrative Trustee to administer your trust after you die. Learn what a Successor Trustee is required to do when settling your trust after you die.

Who Gets a Copy of a Trust After the Trustmaker Dies?
When someone dies, you've probably seen in the movies or on TV or read in a book about "the reading of the Will." Unfortunately, this is purely a theatrical device designed to create drama in a fictional story - today there's no legal requirement that a Will or a Revocable Living Trust be read to anyone. Instead, the trust attorney has to determine who should be sent a copy of the trust agreement.

How Long Will it Take to Settle a Trust After the Trustmaker Dies?
How long it will take to settle a Revocable Living Trust after the Trustmaker dies depends on many factors.

How Much Does a Successor Trustee Get Paid?
If you've been appointed to serve as the Successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust after the Trustmaker has died, then in most cases you'll be entitled to get paid for the services you provide on behalf of the trust. How much you'll get paid and when you'll receive it depends on many factors.

How Much Does it Cost to Settle a Trust After the Trustmaker Dies?
A common misconception about Revocable Living Trusts is that there's little or no cost involved in settling the trust after the Trustmaker dies. This is absolutely not true. While the overall cost of settling a Revocable Living Trust should be less than settling an estate through the probate court, there's plenty of fees involved in settling a trust. Learn what they are.

Do You Need to Hire an Attorney to Settle a Revocable Living Trust?
Many people believe that if they have a revocable living trust, then the process of settling their final affairs will be simple and won't require the assistance of an attorney. Here you will find a list of things to consider when determining if an attorney will be required to assist with settling a trust.

Step by Step Guide - How to Settle a Revocable Living Trust
Most people have little experience dealing with what happens after their loved one dies and they have been designated as the successor Trustee who will be in charge of settling their loved one's Revocable Living Trust. The purpose of this guide is to provide a general overview of the six steps required to settle a Revocable Living Trust after...

How Do You Make Changes to Your Revocable Living Trust?
One of the benefits of a Revocable Living Trust is that it gives you the flexibility to make changes to the terms of it at any time. But how can you make changes to your trust that will be legally valid? Find out.

Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Changed?
By its design an Irrevocable Trust is just that, irrevocable, and so as a basic rule an Irrevocable Trust can't be amended, modified, changed, or revoked. But with that said, here are some things to consider if you think that you're stuck with the terms of an Irrevocable Trust.

What is a Trust Amendment and a Trust Restatement?
A Trust Amendment is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a Revocable Living Trust but leaves the other provisions unchanged, while an Amendment and Restatement of Trust completely replaces and supercedes all of the provisions of the original Revocable Living Trust.

FDIC Insurance, Estates and Trusts: Are Your Accounts Protected?
With the recent rash of bank failures, there's been alot of confusion about the amount of insurance protection offered to bank accounts held in FDIC-insured banks. Coupled with this is the confusing rules that apply to trust accounts. Learn about the current rules that will affect your accounts.

IRA Trust - A Special Type of Revocable Trust for Your IRA
If you have significant assets held within an IRA, then you should consider setting up a special type of revocable living trust that is designed to be the beneficiary of your IRA and will create a lasting legacy for your family.

What Are the Benefits of an IRA Trust?
If you have significant assets held in an IRA, then you should consider setting up a special type of revocable living trust that is designed to be the beneficiary of your IRA after you die. Here's why.

What is an AB Trust?
Married couples can maximize the use of both of their federal exemptions from estate tax by using AB Trusts as part of their estate plan. Here's how the AB Trust system works.

What is an ABC Trust?
When planning to reduce federal estate taxes, married couples can make use of the AB Trust system to effectively transfer two times the federal estate tax exemption to their heirs. But in states that collect their own separate estate tax, AB Trust planning can cause part of the B Trust to be taxed when the first spouse dies. In response, the...

Which States Allow for ABC Trust Planning?
When planning to reduce federal estate taxes, married couples can make use of the AB Trust system to maximize use of their estate tax exemptions. But in states that collect a separate estate tax, AB Trust planning can cause part of the B Trust to be taxed when the first spouse dies. In response, the ABC Trust system was created, which in 10...

What is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust?
Many people are not aware that all of the proceeds from their life insurance policies will be included their estates for estate tax purposes. Learn how to remove life insurance proceeds from your estate by using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT.

An Overview of Advanced Trusts
Here you will find quick links to information about a variety of advanced estate planning trusts.

Benefits of Creating Lifetime Trusts for Your Beneficiaries
When looking at the options for passing your property on to your children or other beneficiaries after you die, one option to consider is holding the property in separate lifetime trusts for each beneficiary.

Benefits of Creating Lifetime Trusts for Your Beneficiaries
When looking at the options for passing your property on to your children or other beneficiaries after you die, one option to consider is holding the property in separate lifetime trusts for each beneficiary.

What is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust?
A Qualified Personal Residence Trust ("QPRT") is a special type of irrevocable trust that is designed to hold and own your primary or secondary residence and remove its value from your taxable estate. Learn how a QPRT works.

How Does a Qualified Personal Residence Trust Really Work to Reduce Your Estate?
The main benefit of a Qualified Personal Residence Trust, or "QPRT" for short, is the removal of the value of a primary or secondary residence from your estate at a reduced gift tax value. But how does a QPRT really work?

What is a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, or GRAT?
A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, or GRAT for short, is a special type of irrevocable trust that allows the Trustmaker/Grantor to gamble against the odds and, if the Trustmaker/Grantor plays their cards right, then a significant amount of wealth can be moved down to the next generation for virtually no estate or gift tax dollars. Learn how a GRAT works.

Pros and Cons of Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
A Qualified Personal Residence Trust ("QPRT") is a special type of irrevocable trust that will remove the value of your residence from your taxable estate at a reduced rate. Learn about the pros and cons associated with QPRTs here.

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