1LIVING TRUSTS Besides avoiding probate, what are the advantages of having a Living Trust? • On death, the Successor Trustee follows the instructions in the trust for the distribution of its assets. The delays and expenses of probate are avoided. The distributions are private and not a matter of public record. • Heirs-at-law and next-of-kin of a decedent do not have to be identified and notified of the administration of the decedent’s assets, unless they are a beneficiary of the trust. This is an especially good advantage when someone does not know all the names and whereabouts of his or her next-of-kin or if someone purposely wants to disinherit an otherwise would-be heir. • A Living Trust is a flexible tool that can be used to provide for beneficiaries after your death. It can hold, invest and distribute assets to children after the death of both parents. It can provide an income stream to a surviving spouse while holding the underlying assets for the benefit of the children (i.e., children of a prior marriage). It can provide support and asset protection to handicapped, elderly or irresponsible beneficiaries. • It is useful in second marriage situations where there are children from a previous relationship. A trust becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s death and can make provisions for his or her children to inherit at the time of death without the surviving spouse having elective share (forced inheritance) rights as would be available to the spouse with probate assets. • It can be used by married couples with combined assets over $2,000,000. to shelter the assets from the federal estate taxes. • If homes or other real property are owned in a number of different states, a Living Trust may be especially useful for avoiding separate probate proceedings in two or more states.
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