Should I Establish a Family Wealth Trust?

A properly executed will can ensure a testator’s estate is distributed according to his/her wishes upon death. However, as their estate grows, it is also not uncommon for testators to use more sophisticated estate planning tools, such as a Family Wealth Trust. While it is true these types of trusts can be used as a primary method of distributing an estate, once a Family Wealth Trust has been established, testators should be wary of eliminating their wills. For help safeguarding your own estate, please contact our estate planning legal team today.

The Basic Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament, which is more commonly known simply as a will, is a legally binding covenant, which allows the maker to bequeath certain gifts and assets from his/her estate to designated beneficiaries. Once recorded in a properly executed will, these gifts must be distributed to the appropriate parties upon the testator’s death. In this document, it is also possible for testators to name an executor, or someone who oversees the dispersal of their assets, in addition to a guardian ad litem – if they have minor children. These types of standard wills are usually enough to distribute a relatively modest estate. However, those with complex assets, specific estate planning goals, or minor children, are often encouraged to incorporate a trust, such as a Family Wealth Trust, into their estate plan to ensure their assets are distributed.

Family Wealth Trusts

Family Wealth Trusts (FWTs) are a type of trust used to protect a person’s assets for future generations. Like assets held in revocable trusts, property held in an FWT does not need to go through probate, which can help beneficiaries receive their inheritances more quickly, while also helping the estate avoid expenses often accompanied by these proceedings. This is not the only benefit FWTs offer – these trusts can also be used to protect a minor child’s inheritance until he/she comes of age. Other benefits of establishing a FWT include:

-Protecting assets from creditors, both during the testator’s life and after his/her death;

-Protecting assets from claims made by a beneficiary’s spouse during divorce;

-Minimizing estate taxes;

-Providing for the immediate transfer of assets upon the trustor’s death;

-Creating a smooth transition for management of an estate upon incapacity or death;

-Allowing trustors to continue to exercise control over their estate; and

-Safeguarding an estate for one’s children in the event the trustor’s surviving spouse remarries.

Family Wealth Trusts are not right for everyone. In fact, even when a family chooses to establish this type of trust, they are often encouraged to include a pour-over will in their estate plan, especially if the FWT is being used as the primary distribution tool. Pour-over wills can be used to distribute items that were mistakenly left out of a trust by essentially “pouring” those assets over into the trust after the trustor’s death.

Contact a Glenview Estate Planning Lawyer Today

For help ensuring your estate is disposed of according to your wishes, please contact the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-325-5559 today.

Updated as of July 2019
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