Trust Lawyer in Virginia
At one time, many people viewed trusts as tools used only in extraordinary circumstances. However, with the advent of living trusts as a tool to avoid probate, trusts have become a popular choice for accomplishing a range of objectives in estate planning.
At Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, we can prepare trusts to meet your needs or assist with administration of an existing trust in Northern Virginia, Maryland, or DC. We work with you to find the most economical solutions to provide the protection you need without unnecessary complexity.
Basic Information About Trusts
Trusts are artificial legal devices that people set up to hold property for themselves or for others. Your estate planning attorney can create trusts with many different characteristics depending on what you plan to use the trust for.
Some trusts are revocable, which means you can change them or cancel that at any time. Other trusts are irrevocable so that they may be difficult or impossible to change. While an irrevocable trust lacks flexibility, it provides greater insulation and protection.
Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes including:
- Passing assets to loved ones without the need for probate
- Providing for the needs of loved ones with special needs
- Reducing tax liability
- Protecting assets from creditors
- Establishing eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits without depleting all assets
- Providing for minor children
- Enabling care for pets
When you place property in an irrevocable trust, it no longer belongs to you but to the trust. That is why the property is protected from creditors and not counted against you when determining eligibility for income-based benefits. Property placed in a revocable trust, by contrast, generally remains under your control.
How Trusts Operate
The person who establishes a trust and puts property into the trust is often known as the grantor. Once property is in the trust, it is controlled by the trustee. The trustee could be an individual or it could be a bank or other organization.
The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage property in the trust in a way that benefits the trust rather than the trustee personally. This is a special legal duty. Trustees also have other duties which vary according to the nature of the trust. They might be required to file tax returns, keep particular types of records, and make periodic distributions in accordance with legal rules and the terms of the trust document.
When it becomes challenging to manage these duties, professional help can be invaluable. Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC can help you understand and comply with your obligations if you are a trustee, or we can take on trustee or other duties associated with the trust.
All decisions regarding the trust are supposed to be made for the good of the beneficiary, who is the person (or people) supported by the trust. For instance, if parents wanted to establish a special needs trust for an adult child, the parents would be the grantors and the child would be the beneficiary. The trustee could be a family member or it could be a financial professional experienced in complying with trust distribution rules.
With a revocable living trust established to avoid probate, the person who establishes the trust—the grantor—also serves as their own trustee and beneficiary. They can use all the property for their own benefit. If they become incapacitated or when they pass away, the person they name as their alternate trustee takes over management of the trust. After death, property in the trust goes to whoever has been named the alternate beneficiary, so it does not get held up in probate.
Talk to Jennifer Porter About the Ways a Trust Could Benefit Your Family
Trusts can be so versatile that they can be overwhelming to contemplate. At Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, we would be happy to review your situation and help you determine whether one or more trusts could be the best option to protect your family from unnecessary losses and delays in the future. Just schedule a consultation to get started.
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