The Importance of Trust in Estate Planning

Trust is the foundation for relationships that can last a lifetime. Trust in a romantic partner can increase feelings of emotional and commitment safety and decrease the stress of a relationship, which is especially important for men (and women). In a long-term study, researchers found that men who experienced a lack of trust in their spouses were more likely to die than those who were not.

A trust fund can be an effective way to transfer assets from one person or entity to another, and it may avoid probate and minimize taxes. However, there are many types of trusts, and selecting the right one for your estate planning needs requires the help of an attorney and financial planner.

When someone sets up a trust, they transfer ownership of their assets to the trustee, who must manage those assets in accordance with the terms of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The trustee is responsible for investing the assets and making periodic distributions to the beneficiaries. The trustee must also keep records, such as tax returns and receipts, for all investments and distributions.

In some cases, the trustee is not required to distribute all of the assets, and the trustee may hold on to certain assets for a period of time. This allows the trustee to invest those assets and make a greater income over time for the beneficiaries.

Generally, the trustee must be willing to accept some level of risk in their role as trustee. This is because if the trustee acts irresponsibly, the beneficiaries could be harmed. Therefore, it is often a matter of choosing between minimizing the risk by monitoring or imposing specific constraints on the trustee’s behavior and retaining some level of trust in their abilities.

Some philosophers have analyzed the nature of trust and trustworthiness in different ways. Most of these approaches focus on interpersonal trust, which reflects the dominant paradigm for how we think about trust (Hawley 2017). Other philosophers have developed theories that are not motives-based or risk-assessment based, including those focused on trust in groups or institutions, or trust in science (e.g., Govier 1993).

When creating a trust, it is important to understand the limitations of your state’s laws and any other requirements that might apply. For example, transferring assets into a trust usually necessitates changing the beneficiary designation on all accounts held at each financial institution. In addition, once an asset is in the trust, it cannot be returned to the grantor or revoked except as allowed by the law of your state.