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How a trust may be useful in estate planning

Some Florida parents may wonder whether they should create a trust fund for their children. Some people associate trust funds with wealthy families and spoiled children, but in fact, they can serve a variety of different purposes for many income levels.

Trusts are one of several vehicles that can be used for estate planning. Beneficiary designations and titles are ways of passing assets such as retirement accounts and property such as homes or vehicles on to heirs. A beneficiary designation is simply a matter of filling out forms associated with the account. Putting property in the name of an heir with joint rights of survivorship means that it will go to them on the death of the other person.

A will says who gets other assets and may also name guardians for minor children. Assets that are passed down through a trust do not go through probate like assets named in a will do. Because of this, a trust is also private. A trust gives greater control over how assets are distributed. For example, it might start distribution to children when they are 25 and continue every five years or tightly control distributions to a careless spender.

The range of trusts available and different options for estate plans is enormous, and this is one reason an attorney may be helpful in creating an estate plan. People might want to discuss their particular financial and family situation as well as their goals with the attorney to see what the possibilities might be. For example, a trust may pass an inheritance directly to grandchildren or might pay dividends to a beneficiary as well as providing donations to a charity.

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