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Does Your Trust Need A Tune-Up?

All trusts should be reviewed every few years to make sure that they are up-to-date with the law and meet your goals today. Following is a checklist of trust features you can review yourself.

Trusts are powerful estate planning tools. However, it is precisely because of this power that they should be properly established, then properly maintained. When it comes to revocable trusts, also known as "living" trusts, ElderLawAnswers offers a convenient and instructive checklist of the things to watch and the things that can go wrong in an article titled "9 (Potential) Problems with Your Trust."

These nine (potential) problems reside in these questions:

  1. Do you have the right successor trustees?
  2. Who can remove trustees?
  3. Can your spouse change the ultimate distribution of trust assets after you have passed away?
  4. Does your trust protect your children and grandchildren from lawsuits and divorces?
  5. Have you "funded" your trust?
  6. Who is named as beneficiary of your retirement plans and other investments?
  7. At what age will children and grandchildren receive their inheritance?
  8. Does your trust have provisions providing for maximum tax deferral if it is named the beneficiary of a retirement plan?
  9. Is your trust up-to-date for estate tax purposes?

Some of these nine questions touch on structural issues to get your trust right at the outset, while still others are "maintenance" matters to ensure your trust is still accomplishing the goals for which it was established. Remember: your life, the lives of your loved ones, and the relevant laws will likely change across the years.

Either way, reflecting on these nine touch points are worth understanding if a trust is important to your estate plan. They certainly demonstrate just how vital competent counsel is in setting up, administering and guiding your trust.

So, is your existing trust still up-to-code? Are you ready to create your trust as part of your New Year's resolutions for 2014?

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