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Trusts: Not just for big estates

When a person feels their estate is on the small side, there are certain incorrect assumptions they might make. For one, they might assume that their estate's size automatically means that getting a trust is something they don't really need to look into.

It is true that there are certain things that some trusts are aimed at, such as estate tax planning, that aren't generally a concern for smaller estates. However, trusts can be used towards a very wide range of goals. Examples include goals regarding:

  • Asset control.
  • Asset protection.
  • Charitable giving.
  • Maintaining family privacy when it comes to asset distribution.

Many of the goals using a trust could help further are ones that can be a big priority for individuals with smaller estates, in addition to those with larger ones. So, trusts can have a variety of useful applications for individuals, even if their estate isn't the biggest.

Not looking into a given type of estate planning device because of a misconception, such as the misassumption that trusts are only for large estates, could lead to a person missing out on a useful avenue for pursuing their estate planning goals.

Another important point to note is that the different types of trusts available vary in what kinds of goals they are helpful with. So, another incorrect assumption related to trusts that could be quite problematic is a person assuming a certain type of trust will help with one of their goals when it is actually not well-suited for such a goal. Such misassumptions could lead to a person constructing their estate plan in a way that leaves certain key goals unprotected.

So, getting legal guidance on whether a trust would be able to help with their particular goals and what types of goals the different types of trusts are well-suited to help with can be important for a person when estate planning, whether their estate is on the big or small side.

Source: WMUR, "Money Matters: Five misconceptions about trusts," Marc Hebert, Sept. 14, 2017

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