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Trust structures may help with asset management

New Yorkers who want to ensure their possessions are managed properly may rely on wills and similar documents, but living trusts offer an alternative. These structures are notable in that their grantors can name themselves trustees and thus manage the assets they want to safeguard. In addition, other trusts, such as spendthrift trusts, can be included in a living trust so that beneficiaries are explicitly looked after.

Living trusts are exempt from some of the legal requirements associated with wills. For instance, they can often be set up with fewer official procedures, and modifications don't usually need to be witnessed. Those with complex arrangements might benefit as well; unlike will executors, their trustees can be based in other jurisdictions.

Living trusts can be employed with many goals in mind. Real estate developers and businesspeople may include trust assets such as tenancy properties that can then be overseen by their trustees. When used to benefit family members following a death, trusts can ensure a predetermined division of assets takes place as intended. The fact that probate courts generally don't get involved in the process means that assets passed along by grantors are continuously owned even if beneficiaries die or other unexpected events occur.

Living trusts can be complex, especially when they involve specific intents or uncommon asset structures. While these trusts are generally easier to draft than wills, failing to account for the laws that apply to particular property types may ultimately render an arrangement ineffective or liable for unforeseen taxes. Some New York property owners find it advantageous to investigate the legal ramifications of the different kinds of trust schemes they can enact before getting started.

Source: American Bar Association , "Living Trusts ", November 02, 2014

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