There was a time when trusts were rarely used by the average person. Instead, they were the domain of the ultra-wealthy and were used primarily to avoid taxation and to retain control of the family fortune as it passed from one generation to the next. More recently, however, trusts have become more user-friendly,” evolving to the point where it is now extremely common for the average person to be involved in a trust at some point in his/her life. With that in mind, you may find the following five reasons you may need a trust attorney to be beneficial in helping you recognize when you could benefit from the advice and guidance of an attorney.
- Creating your own trust. As trusts have gained in popularity over the last several decades, more and more people are choosing to include at least one trust in their comprehensive estate plan. Some of the more common goals a trust can be used to achieve include incapacity planning, asset protection, and Medicaid planning. Parents with minor children also frequently use a trust to protect the child’s inheritance because a minor cannot inherit directly from the estate of a parent. Regardless of the motive for creating a trust, the one mistake you want to avoid making is relying on a DIY form to create your trust. DIY trust forms are notoriously riddled with errors, frequently include out of date language and laws, and often fail to accomplish the intended goal.
- Acting as Trustee. One thing that all trusts have in common is the need to appoint a Trustee. The overall job of a Trustee is to protect the trust assets and administer the trust according to the terms created by the Settlor (creator of the trust). The specific duties and responsibilities of a Trustee are numerous and varied and typically require an above average knowledge of both legal and financial concepts. If someone appointed you to be the Trustee of a trust, it is in your best interest to consult with a trust attorney to ensure that you do not make costly errors for which you could be held personally liable.
- Exercising your rights as a beneficiary. Another thing all trusts must have is at least one beneficiary who receives the benefit of the trust assets. If you are the beneficiary of a trust you have certain rights that you may need to exercise at some point in time. For example, if you are entitled to a distribution from the trust and you have not received it, you may need to initiate litigation. If the Trustee is not administering the trust properly, you may need to petition a court to remove the Trustee. A trust attorney’s assistance will be invaluable if you find yourself in this position.
- Amending a trust. If you are the Settlor of a revocable trust, and the need to amend that trust agreement arises, it is always best to consult with a trust attorney before attempting to make any changes to the agreement.
- Revoking or terminating a trust. Revoking a trust agreement, on paper, is not particularly difficult in some cases; however, there are other details that could prove problematic if you do not first consult with an attorney. In and all assets held by the trust must be transferred out of the trust. To whom or to where they are transferred will depend on several factors. Care must be taken to accomplish this aspect of revocation correctly. If you wish to terminate a trust, it can be a bit more complicated sometimes, depending on what your role is in the trust and the reason for the termination. For example, the beneficiaries may be able to force the termination of a trust; however, they are usually required to obtain a court order to do so. To ensure that you revoke or terminate the trust properly, it is best to work with an experienced trust attorney.
Contact a Trust Attorney
For more information, please sign up for one of our upcoming FREE seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns relating to a trust, or to your role in a trust, contact the experienced trust attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.