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Financial Planning
Dec 2022

Trusts: A Vehicle for Your Legacy

By Elizabeth Kevelin

Recently, post-divorce, I found myself in the proverbial driver’s seat of my financial future, setting out on a drive through the realm of concepts such as budget, savings, wealth, risk and legacy. Growing up, my vocabulary did not include any of those ideas or thoughts, and the concept of a trust only entered my mind at age forty-seven, while listening to an audio book during the pandemic. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with this legacy vehicle, or if you have actively been avoiding planning your estate, hop in and let’s ride!

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal relationship documented in writing, in which you designate a “trustee” who controls your assets. Individuals or couples doing estate planning generally create a “revocable living trust,” in which they (the “trustors”) are their own trustee(s). The trust then designates a successor trustee who will act for the benefit of the beneficiaries if the “trustors” are incapacitated or pass away. Under the guidance of an attorney, with a trust you can have a blank slate to craft the financial guardrails to protect your beneficiaries when you can’t be here to do it personally. You also have the added benefit of keeping this process private and out of probate (the legal process of distributing estates for those without estate plans).

Why Might I Want a Trust?

It is sobering to think about, but we do our loved ones a favor if we choose to plan, rather than have them caught by surprise when our life comes to its natural conclusion, or if something unexpected happens sooner. We are good about planning road trips by first making sure our fluids are topped off, and that we have working windshield wipers, a map or a charged cell phone; the same should go for our financial lives — we should have an estate plan in place, which may include a trust, to make sure we are prepared for any road blocks along the way. .

Whether you are an individual or are in a relationship, a trust can be a great vehicle to provide for those you love or the organizations you care about so that you can continue supporting them beyond your years. I am taking the time now to think about my future and how I can best provide for my sons with the resources I do have, and whether or not a trust is the best option to secure those resources for them.

How to Take Action

A trust is one vehicle in your legacy plan, and if properly constructed it can go the distance. Establishing a trust is a task best left to the professionals, so be sure to coordinate with an estate-planning attorney. Having a caring and knowledgeable advocate in your corner such as a financial planner can also help you move from thought to action. Consider speaking with your tax professional as well to discover any tax advantages or disadvantages. And while you’re at it, it might also be a good time to stop ignoring those dashboard lights and speak with your mechanic as well.

Investing involves the risk of loss. Information provided is for informational purposes only. For specific planning, please seek the advice of Integris, your tax accountant, attorney, insurance agent, or other professional as appropriate.

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