Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to wills and trusts, it’s not just a matter of understanding what the law says. Every person and family has a unique set of circumstances, including different relationships, obligations, business commitments, or issues of trust. Below, you’ll find the answers to many of the situation-specific questions we’ve encountered.

And, if you have a question about something not addressed here, we’ll be happy to answer it!

Your Questions Answered

  • You can create a trust within your own trust of a specific amount of money to be used for their care and appoint someone you trust to manage it for them.

  • A trust can set aside money to pay for their health, education, support and maintenance. Appointing a trustee helps to ensure that the money will be spent for your intended beneficiaries’ care.

  • Many people live in a home that may have been purchased during a first marriage in which their children grew up. You may want your children to have the “family” home, but do not want to put your spouse out of the home if you die before him or her. A trust and/or a deed with life estate for the surviving spouse can provide that your spouse can remain in the home for the duration of his/her natural life and on his/her death, the house goes to your children. Provisions can also be made for the maintenance and upkeep of the house if your spouse cannot maintain the property.

  • You can secure the legacy of your children against squandering by a spouse after your death through creation of a trust that will provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime with the remainder going to your children. Again you appoint who you want to manage this money.

  • Many people are concerned that their children will get lazy if they know they’ve got all this money coming to them even if they don’t work. There are many legal clauses that may be used to incentivize your beneficiaries. You can include requirements that beneficiaries must meet before they can get any money, such as they must be “gainfully employed,” they must complete college, or be a credit to their family and community. Your trust can also include provisions where they lose their right to inherit if they are convicted of a felony, for example. One clause that can be used is that the trust will only match what the beneficiary earns. So before your child gets any of your money, they have to make their own money. And you can require proof in the form of a filed tax return before they can get any money from the trust.

    A trust can also provide that a child get only a percentage of the trust property over a period of time. For example you might provide 10 percent at 25 years of age, 20 percent at 30, 30 percent at 35 and all at 40, or any variation of it.

  • All persons, especially single persons who may not have close children or others to leave their estates to, can leave money to schools, churches, institutes to help provide education for vocational training, nursing, college, and graduate schools.

  • You can create a legacy to promote the values taught in your church, Greek organizations, etc. by gifting money to those organizations and/or its programs. Support for art, music, theater, dance, and cultural programs are wonderful ways of making sure the values taught continue.
  • In addition to money, your will or trust can also provide for gifts of personal property or money from the sale of personal property to a charity. For example, certain charities solicit donations of cars.

    Your gift to support research for the cure and treatment of sickle cell anemia, cancer, AIDS, etc. will benefit generations to come.

  • There are many ways to motivate a child to finish college or graduate school  by how the trust is structured. You can offer a bonus payment when they graduate and/or reduce the amount they get if they delay.

    Again putting aside money that can only be used for education, as you define it, will make certain your children will get an education even if you are dead. You don’t leave it to chance.

    Securing the education of their children is a primary concern of most parents and grandparents. A trust that invests money for the education of its beneficiaries is one way to ensure that your descendants get the training they need to thrive.

  • Certain clauses in trusts protect your legacy from being reached by creditors of your beneficiaries. If your beneficiary is not prudent with money be sure to have your lawyer insert a special clause called a “Spendthrift clause” into your trust. So if your intended beneficiary is not prudent with money because of age, addiction or irresponsibility, a trust appoints a Trustee to manage the money for their benefit, use it only for their best interests and still keep it away from the beneficiary’s creditors.

  • Have your lawyer prepare your trust to identify what you define as important milestones and instruct your Trustee to make the payments when and as you direct. For example, your trust can provide for payments when your beneficiaries graduate from an educational institution, gets married, has a child, etc.

  • Direct your Trustee to purchase a residence for your beneficiary and fund your trust so that there are sufficient funds in your trust to cover the costs of home ownership. You must always put sufficient funds and/or investments into your trust to make distributions that you direct.

  • You can help your beneficiary start a business by providing in your trust that your money can be used to start or invest in a business. You can place requirements and limitations on such use that will make it only usable in prudent situations.

  • Direct your Trustee to use the funds in the trust for this purpose even after you pass.

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