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The role of trusts in estate planning

The estate planning process often encompasses the creation of a variety of different documents. Some professionals would argue that the two most important tools are wills and trusts. While a will can name who will provide care for children and how assets will be distributed, a trust can allow those in Georgia greater flexibility and privacy.

One of the most important benefits of a trust is that it allows the avoidance of probate. This process can be lengthy and time consuming. Additionally, probate is a public process, thus removing privacy. If a person owns property in more than one state, the probate process must happen in each state. A trust allows for both privacy and efficiency in these regards.

Trusts also allow a great deal of flexibility in how and when funds are distributed. For example, certain parameters can be added. A person can indicate that an asset is only to be used for certain expenses, such as to pay for college or to purchase a house. A trust can also place a limit on the age that a person can receive an inheritance or structure that the beneficiary will receive a disbursement at certain ages. A trust can also help meet a person's goals in regard to their philanthropic endeavors related to donating money or other assets to charities.

Trusts can be more complicated than wills and more expensive to create. However, they have several distinct advantages over wills. Because of their complexity, many people in Georgia rely on the assistance of an attorney with estate planning experience to help them make the decisions that are most appropriate for each individual circumstance.

Source: brainerddispatch.com, "Commentary: When does it make sense to add a trust to your estate plan?", Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, July 23, 2016

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