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Creating a trust protects your heirs in the event of a divorce

When you create a last will or a trust, the idea is to create a legacy. You can assign certain assets to loved ones, family members or even charities that you love and support. You may find, as life moves on, that you have reason to update your will. People you included as heirs may die, children may no longer require guardians or your family could grow due to a new member.

Updating your will is always the best way to approach these changes, but they could continue to happen after you pass on, leaving your legacy vulnerable. Placing your most valuable assets in a trust can ensure that your belongings and assets stay in your family and don't end up divided with an in-law in the event of a divorce.

This is why you need a living trust

If you have not started the estate planning process, there is no time like the present. There are multiple estate planning tools that can help you plan for your family's future and even for a time when you may become incapacitated. For example, a health care proxy will grant someone you trust the authority to make certain medical decisions for you in case you are unable to make such a decision yourself.

Another beneficial estate planning tool is a living trust. The following can provide you with some helpful information about living trusts and why you need one.

Put estate planning on your 2018 New Year's resolution list

Do you think estate planning is only for the well-to-do? Think again. If you fit any of these criteria, you should have an estate plan:

  • You are in a serious relationship with someone to whom you are not married
  • You have a child or children of any age
  • You just got married or remarried
  • You own a house
  • You want to provide assets to a charity after you are gone
  • You provide support for someone over the age of 18

Evaluating trusts for your estate planning needs

If you're thinking about creating an estate plan, you're probably running into lots of information about trusts, some of which may seem confusing or contradictory. There are many different types of trusts and many ways that you might use them, depending on your needs and wishes for your estate.

In general, a trust is a financial planning tool that allows people to remove items from personal ownership but still control how and when they or others access those items. You may find it helpful to think of a trust as a box. You can take things that you own -- money, real estate, etc. -- and place them in the box. Once they are in the box, you do not legally own them, protecting them from unnecessary taxation or preserving them from claims of creditors. You may even use a trust to reduce your income to qualify for government assistance.

Should you consider updating your will?

Although common sense dictates that every adult should have some sort of will in place, thousands and thousands of individuals die each and every year without a proper will. However, even those individuals who do create wills often neglect to update the wills regularly, sometimes causing large conflicts within their communities and families when they pass.

If you have a will but have not updated it in a while, then you should strongly consider updating any elements of your will that changed since you last reviewed the document. It may prove useful to simply read over your will with some of these matters in mind.


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