Who Needs a Trust? -P2

People with Beneficiaries Who Need Help
Trusts are especially popular among people with beneficiaries who aren't able to manage property well. This includes elderly beneficiaries with special needs or a relative who may be untrustworthy with money. For example, if you have a granddaughter who has been in a juvenile detention center, it may be a good idea to require her to obtain the money at intervals from a trustee instead of giving her a gift outright in your will. A discretionary trust gives the trustee leeway to give the beneficiary as much or as little he or she thinks appropriate.
Another type of trust is for improvident beneficiaries a spendthrift trust. It's simply a trust in which your instructions to the trustee carefully control how much money is released from the trust and at what intervals, so you can keep an irresponsible beneficiary from the temptation of getting thousands of dollars in one stroke. You can stipulate that the trustee will pay only certain expenses for the beneficiary--those you (or the trustee) consider legitimate, such as rent and utility bills. In a spendthrift trust the beneficiary cannot assign his or her interest in the trust, and creditors of the beneficiary can't get at the principal in a trust, but can make a claim (if it's otherwise legal) on whatever income the beneficiary receives. Spendthrift provisions raise a number of tricky questions and should be used cautiously--your lawyer can tell you whether such a trust is right for your situation.
People Who Own Property that is Hard to Divide
Trusts help you transfer property that's not easy to divide evenly among several beneficiaries. Suppose you have a little vacation cottage on the Cape, and four children who each want to use it. You can pass it to them in a trust that sets out each child's right to use the property, establishes procedures to prevent conflicts, requires that when the property is sold the trustee divide the proceeds evenly (or unevenly, if some children aren't as well off as others), and sets up a procedure by which any child may buy out another's interest in the cottage.
People Who Want to Control their Property Because of Family Dynamics
Through a trust, you can maintain more control over a gift than you can through a will. Some people use trusts to pass money to a relative when they have doubts about that person's spouse. For example, you love your son, but don't trust his wife, Livia. You're afraid she'll spend the money you give him on astrologers and shoes. Leave the money in trust for your son instead of making a direct gift to him, and you can direct that he get only the income, so neither he nor his wife can squander the principal. In many states, if you leave money in trust to your son, Livia can't get at the assets if they divorce. Moreover, he can choose how much, if any, of the trust income or principal to leave Livia; if she hasn't been a good and faithful companion, he can leave the whole thing to whomever he desires.
People Concerned About Estate Taxes
Trusts are very useful to people with substantial assets, because they can help avoid or reduce estate taxes. For example, by establishing a trust for their benefit, you can make tax-free gifts (up to the limit allowed by law) each year to your children or grandchildren during your lifetime, even if they're minors. This will reduce your taxable estate and save taxes upon your death. A properly drawn trust may also reduce estate taxes by utilizing the marital deduction or avoiding the generation skipping tax. (See chapter eight.)