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By Liza Weiman Hanks
Dear Liza, I’m a young professional and would greatly appreciate your feedback on what type of trust, if any, would suit me well given my current financial and life position. I’m single, 29 years old (30 later this year), with cash, stocks, and a stake in a high-growth company. My goal is to protect my assets while maintaining control and flexibility over their allocation / disbursement over time, especially in the event of unexpectedly passing or a disabling event (transfer to immediate siblings and parents). I’m single and have no plans for marriage or children within the next 5-8+ years, but I would like to protect these going into a marriage as well as the value will likely be a magnitude greater than they are today). Those are all good questions, and congratulations for asking them way before most people give estate planning any thought (including, to be honest, me!)
A revocable living trust will, combined with a pour-over Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Property Management, accomplish most of the goals you’ve listed above. An estate plan like that will provide flexibility for you during your lifetime, keep your property separate when you do marry (if you do marry), allow someone (your successor Trustee and Agent under a Durable Power of Attorney) to manage your assets for you if you are incapacitated and transfer your assets to your siblings and parents if you die an untimely death in an efficient and relatively quick manner.
Here’s what it won’t do: protect your assets from creditors. Revocable trusts exist to avoid probate upon your death and to allow others to manage assets for your benefit if you’re incapacitated, but, because they can be revoked by you at any time, the assets in that kind of trust are available to your creditors. Business folks create entities, like limited liability partnerships, and corporations, to shield their personal assets from business risks/creditors, but an estate plan doesn’t do that. Hope that helps. Good luck.
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