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Estate Planning: Living Trusts

In her article, Price Mueller notes that living trusts are "sometimes touted as an absolute essential." As always, this is more or less true depending on your assets, your goals and how you hope to pass on parts of your estate. Still, there are a great number of reasons to consider the living trust as an essential part of your estate plan.

As mentioned, living trusts are private, even after you have passed on. For some, this is appealing, though there may be some instances in which a public record of your estate plan is preferable (to be discussed in the next post on wills).

Living trusts, per their name, go into effect before the "trustor" passes away. Say you have several income-generating assets that you wish to protect, but don't want to pack away just yet. By putting them into a trust, you can keep control of them, while still reaping the benefits.

Many individuals look to living trusts because of the opportunity to continue managing their assets, albeit with a thicker layer of protection. The other appealing characteristic of a living trust is its ability to be changed by the individual who set it up.

While living trusts are often viewed as an alternative to wills, and, to be fair, in many cases they are, living trusts and personal wills can and do coexist.

When you're setting up the trust, funneling assets into it, chances are good that you won't put all your assets into the trust. For these assets, many in New Jersey employ what is known as a "pour-over will" which moves any assets outside of the living trust into the trust following the creator's death.

On the other hand, one might simply wish to create a more traditional will to deal with any remaining assets.

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