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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Do I need a trust?

New York and New Jersey estate planning attorneys recognize that even though most people understand that the purpose of a last will and testament, also called simply a “will”, is to designate who gets their property and who would be guardians of their minor children after they die, few people realize or fully understand the role that living and other trusts can play in a comprehensive estate plan.

Revocable living trusts are often used in estate planning because they allow people to remain in control of their assets during their lifetime, provide for management in the event of incapacity, and allow the assets to be transferred upon death in accordance with the maker’s wishes. The trust process allows trust assets to pass to beneficiaries more quickly because they avoid probate and the delays, costs, and lack of privacy associated therewith.  Plus, trusts often offer tax advantages.

A fascinating thing about estate planning is that there are many other trust options that can be utilized when customizing an estate plan. Each option takes the maker’s unique financial and familial relationships and goals into account.

Examples of some trusts that estate planning attorneys may recommend depending on the particular circumstances include:

  • Trusts for minors – they provide the ages and/or goals that youngsters must reach in order to receive payment of their inheritance.
  • Special needs trusts – allow parents or grandparents leave money to enhance the quality of life of a loved one with special needs in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize any government disability benefits they may be receiving.
  • Marital or QTIP trust–made for the benefit of the surviving spouse can help minimize taxes, protect property, and in cases of second marriages may provide an income to the surviving spouse during their lifetime with the remainder going to the deceased children from a prior marriage.
  • Spendthrift trusts—are often created to prevent financially irresponsible or immature beneficiaries from blowing their whole inheritance or losing it to creditors.
  •  Credit shelter trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and generation-skipping trusts are other tools that each offer tax advantages for different scenarios.

If you need help with an initial estate plan or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning attorneys at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

With offices in Staten Island, New York, and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we help clients in both states in all aspects of estate planning, estate administration, and real estate law.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.