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A trust is created by a settlor (also known as a grantor) with a trust agreement prepared by an estate planning attorney. These documents establish and outline a relationship between the trustee (the person who manages the trust) and the beneficiary (the person(s) who benefits from the property or finances held within the trust). Trusts may have more than one trustee and/or beneficiary depending on the wishes of the settlor.
Reach out to our Louisiana trust lawyers today at (504) 608-5208 to start planning your trust.
Do I Need a Trust?
For many individuals, including those with minor children or other dependents, a trust may be the most efficient way to hold, manage and distribute property, with the additional benefit of reduced probate taxes.
When a trust is implemented, the appointed trustee controls legal title to the property that has been transferred into the trust. The trustee then decides when, and for what purpose, distributions of property are to be made to the beneficiary.
For example, a trustee might make a distribution to a beneficiary to pay for the expenses of attending college or medical expenses. The trustee might also make a distribution that is predetermined by the trust. For instance, the trust documents might direct the trustee to distribute all of the property in the trust to the beneficiary when he or she reaches a certain age. The trust documents will outline and regulate how, when and why a beneficiary would receive the benefits of the property held in the trust.
Types & Categories of Trusts
There are two main types of trusts:
- Revocable Trusts – A trust that is created such that provisions can be altered or canceled as the settlor wishes.
- Irrevocable Trusts – A trust that can’t be modified or terminated without the permission of the beneficiary. The settlor, having transferred assets into the trust, effectively removes all of his or her rights of ownership to the assets and the Trust.
Once you have decided on the type of trust you want, you then need to decide what category of trust you will create. The four most common categories of irrevocable and revocable trusts include:
- Testamentary Trust - is created within a Will and thus comes into being at the moment of the settlor’s death without reference to the acceptance of the trustee. These trusts are irrevocable as they are established upon the settlor’s death.
- Inver Vivos/Living Trusts - are trusts that are created to take action while the settlor is still living. These trusts often hold property that generates income for the beneficiary and are often used to avoid probate fees when the settlor does pass. Living trusts can be created as Irrevocable or revocable trusts depending on the wishes of the settlor.
- Special Needs Trusts - these trusts are meant to benefit a person or persons with special needs in a way that will not cause them to lose any government benefits they are receiving.
- Special Needs Trusts may be created as first-party meaning the beneficiary is also the owner of the property held in trust; or third-party meaning someone other than the beneficiary is the owner of the property held in trust.
- Pet Trusts - with the passing of Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2263, Louisiana residents can now establish trusts for the benefit of their pets. These trusts may be created as irrevocable trusts or revocable trusts and provide for your pet just as a trust would provide for a human beneficiary with the additional benefit of establishing a caregiver for your pet in the event of your death.
We Can Help You Create an Optimal Trust
One of our Grand Law Firm estate planning attorneys in New Orleans can explain the duties involved in being a trustee and can assist you in deciding who the best family member, friend, or professional is for that role. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can also help you develop a detailed and comprehensive plan for how funds held in Trust should be distributed to best reflect your wishes.
The best way to determine if a trust is the right fit for your estate planning needs is to meet with a qualified attorney to discuss your individual situation. Call (504) 608-5208 to schedule a free consultation at our firm.
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