Family Trust Lawyers Serving Grand Rapids & West Michigan
Asset Protection & Family Trust Planning
A family trust can make it possible to provide for your loved ones by gradually giving them portions of your estate, either while you are alive or after your death. The benefit to giving your assets to your loved ones through a family trust rather than a will or the probate process is avoiding the expense and delay a Will and the probate process involves. Inventory fees, additional time involved in probate court – all add up to more expenses when probate court is involved. Inventory fees, additional time involved in probate court – all add up to more expenses when probate court is involved. With a trust, the trustee, who is generally a relative, such as a child, is tasked with keeping the assets safe and distributing them to the beneficiaries as determined by the creator of the trust, known as the grantor.
What is a Family Trust?
A trust is used to hold assets, rather than allowing those assets to remain in the personal possession of the grantor. If the Grantor becomes incompetent, the successor trustee can then manage those assets for the benefit of the Grantor. Upon the death of the grantor, the trustee will follow the terms of the trust, including making the proper distribution to the beneficiaries. A properly drafted trust can even provide asset protection for the beneficiaries.
Revocable Living Trust
A basic trust that allows you to remain in control of your assets, while protecting your loved ones in the event of your death or disability.
Irrevocable Asset Protection Trust
A trust which offers some protection from creditors, while allowing you to shield assets for the purpose of collecting Medicaid.
This is a trust created by a Will and is created when the testator dies. Since the testamentary trust is created by a Will when someone dies, it is a revocable trust until the person dies, and then becomes an irrevocable trust at the death of the testator.
Special Needs Trust
This is often created for a disabled person, who is unable to manage their own assets. This trust avoids having these assets counted as the disabled person’s assets when applying for Medicaid.
Steps to Creating an Estate Plan
After scheduling your appointment with an attorney in our office, the next steps include:
- Completing a Personal Information Form prior to your initial meeting with an attorney. This form gathers information, including: a high-level overview of your assets, complete legal names of the clients, names of their children and their addresses. It will help the attorney in making a recommendation of what type of estate plan is right for you.
- Complete a Design Essentials form. This will include a list of the agents whom you want to make your financial and health care decisions in the event you are incapable of making those decisions.
- The Design Essentials form also asks you how you want your assets to be distributed to your beneficiaries, including alternate beneficiaries.
- Gather any old estate plan documents to bring to the meeting. These include: old trusts, wills and power of attorney documents.
- Gather other important papers, if you have any, such as: Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial agreements, Judgment of Divorce, and land sale contracts.
- For the meeting with the attorney, bring the completed forms and the above listed documents. It will make the meeting much more effective and efficient with the above information. Also, if you are married, it is important for the spouse to be present as well, if the documents are being drafted for both spouses.