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Trust Attorneys in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Few of us like to think of our mortality, but the more we prepare for the inevitable, the easier it can be for our family members when the time comes. Whether you’re well into retirement or are still young and healthy, it’s never a bad time to start thinking about estate planning. Even those with relatively few assets can benefit from writing up a simple will or trust with an estate planning attorney. If you’re curious about what estate planning can look like for you, call our firm at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C. to get your questions answered. We serve clients from our offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but can help people through Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware County.

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Overview of Trusts

The most basic element of an estate plan is a will, but what most people don’t understand is that wills are only the beginning and can be very limiting in what they cover and how they’re executed. To account for this, many people choose to utilize trusts as a part of their estate plan.

There are two main types of trusts you should be familiar with: revocable and irrevocable. Both types of trusts let you transfer ownership of certain assets to a trustee and assign those assets to beneficiaries. A revocable trust (also called a revocable living trust) gives you more flexibility while you’re still alive as you have the power to make changes to it, add or remove assets, or revoke the trust completely. With an irrevocable trust, once the assets are assigned and the trust is signed, you cannot make any changes to it. Each has its benefits, and speaking with an estate planning attorney can help you decide which one is best for you.

To create a trust, you first must decide which assets you want to include and what limitations or flexibility you’d like to have with them. This will help decide which kind of trust works best for your needs. You then must decide who your trustee will be, which can be someone you know like a family member, or a lawyer or law firm. Finally, you’ll have to choose your beneficiaries and have them named in the trust.

Why Having a Trust is Important

Trusts work in a similar way to wills, but come with some distinct advantages. Perhaps the biggest is that they can help avoid probate. Probate is the legal process that wills must go through after someone dies. Even though assets can be allocated in a will, they still must be “proved” in court which means they are inventoried, assessed, and then eventually distributed to heirs. Also, wills become public record during this process which means anyone can access your personal information. By using a trust, your assets can go directly to your beneficiaries and your information will remain private.

Additionally, trusts let you protect certain assets even after you pass away. If you leave behind minor children, for example, you can specify that an asset be kept in a trust until a specific date (like when they reach a certain age), and only then be distributed. You can also make use of a living will (also called power of attorney) that gives someone the power to make medical decisions should you become mentally incapacitated.

Choosing a Trustee & Beneficiaries

When forming any kind of trust, you’ll need to decide upon a trustee and your beneficiaries. A trustee can be another individual, an attorney or law firm, or even yourself. Whomever you choose, this should be someone responsible that you trust to carry out your wishes. It should also be someone you’re fairly certain will outlive you. You’ll also need to assign beneficiaries. If you want the flexibility to change these as you age, you should opt for a living trust. This will allow you to add or change beneficiaries if you have children, get married or divorced, or as you acquire new assets.

Trust Attorneys in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Whether you’re still unsure of whether you want to start a trust or you’re ready to start drafting today, we can help you get organized and review your options. If you're in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, reach out to us today for all your estate planning needs.