Trusts & Estates Overview
Trusts are useful legal tools for estate planning and other types of wealth management. However, to properly serve the goals of the settlor — the person who creates a trust — an attorney must draft a thorough and comprehensive trust document.
At Fox, Shjeflo, Hartley & Babu LLP, our Bay Area trusts and estates attorneys understand the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of trusts. Our lawyers listen to what clients want and create well-drafted trusts that serve those goals.
Living vs. testamentary; revocable vs. irrevocable
Living trusts help settlors maintain control over a gift or donation and are also useful for other wealth management purposes. Testamentary trusts, on the other hand, are created upon a settlor’s death by the terms of his or her will. The latter are a valuable estate planning tool, particularly in complex estates, because they allow greater flexibility than a will alone.
Trusts are also categorized as revocable or irrevocable. A settlor can freely modify a revocable trust at any time, but a court order is required to modify an irrevocable trust. Each has advantages: Revocable trusts allow the settlor free access to the property in the trust, while irrevocable trusts have certain tax, marriage, and Medicaid eligibility benefits.
Classification by purpose
The right type of trust depends on the settlor’s goals, which could include:
- Providing a source of income to family members
- Helping children pay for college
- Caring for an elderly or disabled loved one or for a minor child
- Supporting a charity
Trusts give settlors flexibility by allowing them to:
- Choose a reliable trustee
- Set terms for how property is handled
- Control how beneficiaries receive and use the trust property
However, figuring out what kind of trust you need can be complicated. A qualified attorney lawyer from Fox, Shjeflo, Hartley & Babu LLP can help you navigate the complexities of trust formation and help you determine what type of trust is appropriate for your situation and goals.