Our law firm’s Everett-based lawyers now prepare trusts as a complement to our estate planning packages. To effectively advise clients regarding trusts requires an in-depth knowledge of federal and state tax laws that most firms lack, even many firm’s performing trust work. Rather than put our clients at financial risk, we had for many years referred trust clients to offices in other cities. Recently, however, we brought on board one or more attorneys whose practice focus is trusts and related elder law.
As with our other practice areas, we ensure our trust and estate attorneys enjoy the qualifications normally seen at the largest and most expensive firms. Yet cost-saving technologies enable us to charge below-market rates even when compared to most solo attorneys in the Puget Sound. To learn more, we encourage you to contact us at our toll-free number, 866-631-0028.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are trusts only for people with large estates? It is true that financial succession planning for smaller and midsize estates often does not include any trusts. Currently (as of 2016) a will or community property agreement tends the best vehicle for transferring assets when the decedent’s estate is less than $2 million. But exceptions to this general rule arise fairly frequently, especially given the increasing difficulty middle-income families experience when attempting to pay for long-term care for disabled and elderly family members. A well-crafted trust can be a means of preserving an estate for the disabled person’s care while also allowing him or her to qualify for government aid, such as Medicaid.
What is an inter vivos trust? An inter vivos trust is a lifetime or living trust, meaning it takes effect during the lifetime of the person who established it as opposed to taking effect at or after that person’s passage. These types of trusts tend to be unpopular except in special circumstances. Their unpopularity stems from the difficulty and expense of managing them through a trustee rather than having the trustor manage them as his or her own assets during his or her lifetime. Moreover, it generally does not make sense to use inter vivos trusts as a means of avoiding the expense of the probate process in Washington – our state’s probate process is relatively straightforward and inexpensive.
The most common usage for an inter vivos trust is the care of loved ones with special needs, such as someone suffering from senility, disability, substances abuse, or compulsive spending or gambling. If there are privacy concerns, an inter vivos trust might be useful as a means of avoiding probate. Assets passing through an inter vivos trust generally do not become part of the public record, whereas assets that pass through a will’s probate process generally do.
What is a testamentary trust? A testamentary trust is one that takes effect at or after the trustor’s death. In other words, it is the opposite of an inter vivos trust, described above. These can serve most of the same functions as an inter vivos trust – they can provide for the care of loved ones with special needs. But unlike an inter vivos trust, the expense and difficulty of administering the trust does not begin until after the trustor’s lifetime, which is often preferable when compared to an inter vivos trust.
What is an irrevocable trust? As the name implies, an irrevocable trust is one the trustor (the person who established the trust) cannot undue. These types of trusts put funds beyond the reach of the trustor, which can have tax advantages. Interestingly, a recent law requires trustees to give notice to interested parties within 60 days of a trust becoming irrevocable. That is, the trustee (the person responsible for administering the trust) must inform the interested parties of the nature of the trust and what it contains.
If I have trusts, do I still need a will? Yes, you generally want a will even if all your assets are in trusts. Wills do much more than convey property, and they provide a safety net for assets accidentally left outside your trusts.