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Estate Planning and Elder Law: When Do I Need a Trust

By Ann Salek

December 12, 2016

In my estate planning and Elder Law practice, I am often asked, "Do I need a trust?"  Many people hear about their friends or family that have a trust and they think maybe they need one too.  Therefore, I have established a general list of common situations I have found among my clients that will trigger a "red flag" to me that we should investigate the necessity of a trust for that client.  A brief summary of those situations are as follows:

 Beneficiaries who are minors and you want to avoid the children having full access to assets at age 18

  • Beneficiaries with disabilities
  • Beneficiaries with addictions
  • Beneficiaries who are spend-thrifts
  • Beneficiaries with suspect spouses
  • Want to keep assets in bloodline
  • Divorce – ex-spouse won’t get money
  • Concern surviving spouse will re-marry or be taken advantage of and want to make sure assets are eventually distributed to children
  • Vacation home
  • Own closely held business – succession plan
  • Asset protection – in high liability profession
  • Asset protection for long-term care (Medicaid or Veterans benefits planning)
  • Tax – taxable estate is greater than 5.4 million

 Any one of these single issues could warrant a full article on that subject alone.  This is not meant to give advice on an estate plan or long term care plan (elder law issues) that may be needed.  This article is merely meant to give a list of situations of which to be aware when considering when someone may need a more sophisticated estate plan or long-term care plan.

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