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Benefits of trusts: Beyond avoiding probate

Virtually all New Jersey residents are aware that building an estate plan around trusts instead of simply drafting a will can keep an estate out of probate. The probate process is time-consuming, expensive and fraught with potential tension and stress, and avoiding those negative aspects is a worthy goal. However, there are a number of other reasons to choose trusts over a will.

One of the biggest appeals of a trust is the amount of control that an individual can retain over the assets within that vehicle. In the case of a revocable trust, it is possible to make changes to the trust at any time and for any reason throughout your lifetime. However, at the time of your death, the assets held within the trust will be distributed as outlined within.

A trust is a great tool for an individual who has a blended family, and has children with both his current spouse and a former partner. In such cases, a trust can be set up that will provide financial support for the surviving spouse until his or her death. At that point, the remaining assets will pass on to one's children, according to the provision laid out within the trust.

This arrangement also protects against the chance that one's surviving spouse remarries and starts a new family. In many cases, this scenario leads to those children and potentially the new spouse receiving the bulk of inherited wealth, leaving one's older children cut out completely. While no New Jersey resident wants to think that their spouse might do such a thing, the fact remains that a revocable trust is the only way to ensure that such an outcome does not take place. This is an example of why trusts offer a number of benefits beyond simply avoiding probate. 

Source: CBS News, "5 reasons you need a trust, not a will", Ray Martin, Sept. 17, 2015

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