Oftentimes when I am meeting with clients, we spend a significant amount of time focusing on fully understanding their personal and financial lives. This allows us to make sure that we can holistically address all of their needs, goals, and dreams for the future.
During this process, we discuss in-depth the best ways we can customize a plan to make it all happen.
Two of the most common questions I hear from clients are: 1) What is the difference between a trust and a will, and 2) Why it is important to document my wishes to best care for my family?
Simply defined, a will determines how your assets will be fully distributed after you die; a trust is a legacy to your heirs. Your trust details how your assets will be held and managed for the benefit of your heirs at your direction.
There are many different kinds of trust, each having its own focus and determined impact and benefit.
All trusts are individually customized and drafted to meet the unique needs and wishes of an individual or family.
Clients have told me that they had never seen themselves as a “trust person,” believing that this option is only for the ultra-wealthy and famous. That could not be further from the truth. It is estimated that half of the wealth in the United States is held in trust. If you include IRAs, it is over 75%. While we understand that trusts may not be the right estate planning vehicle for everyone, here are some thoughts that may help you determine if a trust is right for you.
You might not need a trust if:
- You have complete confidence that your children and grandchildren have it all under control.
- They have proven to make good choices and can manage money responsibly.
- You are confident your inheritance will not cause family fighting and broken relationships.
- You have limited assets, financial needs, or responsibilities.
- You are not concerned about taxes and how much you pay to the government.
- You have someone you can trust without question, who is willing to take the time necessary to care for you or your spouse and manage all of your affairs should you become disabled, incapacitated, or pass on.
- You don’t mind the additional time and costs of an estate settled through probate.
- You know when you are going to pass on and will have your affairs in order by then.
You might want a trust if:
- You want to make sure there is someone to take care of your spouse when you pass on.
- You have concerns about your children and grandchildren’s ability to manage money.
- You have a family member with special needs.
- You want to keep assets in the family and protect them from lawsuits, divorce, or legal action.
- You have many different assets, income sources, and/or large balances in retirement or investment accounts.
- You want peace of mind knowing your financial professional is legally obligated to look out for your best interests at all times.
- You want to avoid probate and keep your personal finances private from the public.
- You want to leave a legacy by keeping something whole and having it benefit many people.
These are just a few examples of how a trust may be beneficial to you and your family. It is very important that you consult with your attorney and discuss your desired needs, goals, and wishes with them and your trusted financial professional.
If you have any questions or would like to talk through your unique situation, please call 701.235.2002. At Heartland Trust, our goal is to help you keep your family and finances together.