5 Reasons You Might Need a Trust

Virtually everyone should have a will. To see why, go here. But most people would do well to have a trust. Get that? You don’t have to be Bill Gates to need a trust. Here are five reasons why:

1. Avoid probate. Probate is the word we use to describe the legal process, the court proceedings, that virtually all wills must go through, so that your property goes where you want it to go, so that the court can decide whether the guardian you chose for your children is the best person for the job, so that . . . the list goes on and on. A revocable trust saves you from all that. Rather than passing your property via your will, set up a revocable trust, then title your bank accounts, your home, and your other property in the name of the trustee–you–and you can avoid probate, at least for all the property in the trust. A by product of that process is that you can . . .

2. Preserve your privacy. Hand in hand with probate is the loss of your privacy. What do you think “the public record” means if it doesn’t mean the record of what goes on inside a court room? Go down to your local clerk of court’s office and ask for the court file for a recent probate, and you’ll see what I mean. Revocable trusts? They don’t go through probate; hence, your maintain your privacy.

3. Keep control. If you’ve ever seen Brewster’s Millions or Easy Money, you know all about control. In Brewster, Richard Pryor must spend $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit a larger estate. In Easy Money, Rodger Dangerfield has to turn his vices into virtues before he can inherit. Control. In some cases, it might come in handy. A trust can give it to you–even when you’re long gone.

4. Protect your property. Protect it, that is, until your intended beneficiaries are old enough or mature enough to take care of it on their own. Trusts can do that. Wills can’t.

5. Take care of you should you become incapacitated. Coupled with what is called a durable power of attorney, the trustee of your living trust can step in an manage your estate should you become incapacitated. With the power of attorney and the trust powers, he or she will essentially walk in your shoes and speak in your voice–be you . . . essentially.

Bonus: Reduce or eliminate your estate tax. Of course, if you have a lot of money, that is, if you have $5,430,000 or you and your spouse together have twice that amount–$10,860,000–you can use a trust to avoid or delay the estate tax on amounts over those sums. It gets complicated, so we’ll stop here.


  1. […] a number of ways to avoid probate the attendant publicity and some of the cost. One is to establish a revocable or living trust. For more on that, go […]

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