Estate planning is typically a complex, and often complicated, process. Creating an estate plan is also, however, on one of the most important things you will do to protect you and your loved ones during the course of your lifetime. While the foundation of your estate plan will likely be a Last Will and Testament, you will also likely include, or at least consider, making use of a variety of other estate planning documents and strategies for your estate plan. Among the most common of these secondary documents is a trust agreement. In fact, trusts are so common these days that there is a very good chance you will need the assistance of a trust law firm at some point in your life.
At its most basic, a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a Settlor, who transfers property to a Trustee. The Trustee holds that property for the trust’s beneficiaries. The beneficiary of a trust can be a person, a charity, a business entity, or even the family pet. After a Will, a trust is among the most commonly used estate planning tools. As such, it is highly likely that you will need legal advice and/or assistance related to a trust at some point in your life. For example, consider the following five reasons you might need a trust law firm:
- Creating a trust – probably the most obvious reason for which you might find yourself in need of a trust law firm is to create a trust agreement. A trust agreement is the legal document that sets forth the terms of the trust you create. As the Settlor of the trust, you may include any terms you wish as long as they are not illegal or unconscionable. The Trustee of your trust is required to abide by those terms during the administration of the trust without regard to his/her personal opinion regarding those terms.
- Interpreting a trust – if you find yourself the beneficiary of a trust you are certainly entitled to know the terms of the trust that impact you and to be notified about trust business by the Trustee of the trust. Unless you are familiar with trusts, however, you may not fully understand the language contained in the trust or you might have questions about your rights as a beneficiary of the trust. A trust law firm can help interpret the terms of for you and advise you with regard to your rights as a beneficiary.
- Challenging a trust – you have likely heard of a “Will contest” before; however, did you know that you can also challenge a trust? A trust can be contested in much the same way as a Will. If you have reason to believe the trust is not valid, or you question the Settlor’s state of mind when the trust was created, a trust law firm can discuss your legal options with you.
- Appointing a Trustee – if you are planning to create a trust, one of the most important steps you will take is to appoint a Trustee for your trust. People frequently make the mistake of appointing a friend or family member without giving much thought to the individual’s ability to successfully administer the trust and manage the trust property. If you wish to avoid making this mistake you might want to consider appointing a professional, such as a trust law firm, as the Trustee of your trust.
- Amending, adding to, or revoking a trust – sometimes, the circumstances under which you created a trust change to the extent that they warrant a change in the trust agreement or even a revocation of the trust entirely. To ensure that the changes are made properly, or the trust is permanently and properly revoked, it is always best to turn to a trust law firm for assistance.
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding a trust law firm, contact the experienced Missouri trust law firm at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.