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The Two Types of Trusts You Need That Make Your Will So Long
Recently, a client called me in a bit of a panic. She had just received the drafts of her Will and was shocked to see that it was thirty pages long! She didn’t understand why and told me all she wanted was a simple will. I explained to her that although some Wills are – properly – very simple and short, most Wills should not be.
Wills that are only a few pages are either short because they are:
- Pour-Over Wills, so called because they pour the deceased person’s assets into a pre-existing trust, or
- do not contain important trust provisions designed to protect beneficiaries.
As the saying goes, “Man plans while God laughs”. Between the time you create your Will and when you pass away, many things can and will change, not just for you but for your chosen beneficiaries. A good estate planning attorney will include provisions in your Will that provide protection for your beneficiaries should such changes occur, making it so that, hopefully, your Will does not need to be constantly updated. The two most important provisions that allow for your Will to adapt to changing circumstances without being altered are trust provisions called Minors’ Trust provisions and Supplemental Needs Trust provisions.
Minors’ Trusts provisions allow the share of your estate that would otherwise go outright to a beneficiary to instead be held in trust for him or her until they reach a certain age. This is especially important for any beneficiary under the age of 18 years old, but it can be equally as important for those beneficiaries who are over the age of 18 but still lack the life experience to manage a significant amount of money. Minors’ Trust provisions are customizable to the extent that you can choose the age or ages at which a beneficiary should get all or a portion of their share of your estate outright.
Although you may choose to leave your estate completely to people over the age at which you would want those people to be able to get their share of your estate outright, your Will should list contingent beneficiaries. Contingent beneficiaries only get a share of your estate if a primary beneficiary predeceases you, and so they may be very young or not even in existence yet when your Will is created. It is common for parents to leave everything to their children, per stirpes, which means that if your child predeceases you and has their own child(ren) (your grandchildren), those children may be minors. In this situation, having Minors’ Trust provisions in place becomes essential to protect minors from others and even sometimes from themselves.
Supplemental Needs Trust provisions protect any of your beneficiaries, primary or contingent, who have special needs at the time of your death or are entitled to important government benefits such as Medicaid. You may be aware of certain family members who are special needs now and rely on government programs that are specially designed to meet their needs, who you have already made arrangements for in your Will.
But what if you have other beneficiaries who are not special needs when your Will is created, but who end up being special needs by the time you pass away? In order to make sure they don’t lose vital government benefits they may come to rely upon, Supplemental Needs Trust provisions allow their share of your estate to be held in trust for them to be used for their benefit in ways that won’t jeopardize their benefits.
Without these two important sets of trust provisions, your true intent in getting assets to your beneficiaries may be at risk. Here at Russo Law Group, our Wills routinely contain these important provisions. If your will is just a few pages long and not a Pour-Over Will, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our experienced Estate Planning attorneys who can make sure your beneficiaries have the protection they need.
Choosing and working with a law firm can be stressful. Often you don’t know what the process is, what it will cost, and whether the law firm will even be able to help you! To feel confident in your choice, and to know that your confidence is not misplaced, you should look for much more.
Our team of elder law attorneys, estate planning attorneys, and special needs (disability) attorneys have represented the elderly and persons with special needs/disabilities and their families since 1985. In most professional occupations there is no replacement for experience. At Russo Law Group, P.C., our caring and compassionate staff have been involved in literally thousands of cases. Our experience is your protection.