A testamentary trust is established in a will. It directs a named trustee to manage and distribute assets and income to named beneficiaries of the trust.
You can designate the number of years it will survive, within permissible, legal limits. The trust becomes effective at the time the will is probated. The assets undergo the probate process and are therefore, exposed to creditors’ claims. If your intent is to avoid probate, a living trust would be a more suitable alternative.
Individuals commonly choose between two types of trusts: family and spousal. Family trusts are established to:
- Protect the interests of underage children and any family member with special needs.
- Safeguard adult children’s assets from creditors or divorce settlements.
- Manage funds for spendthrift adult children.
- Minimize disclosure of small business assets that could be susceptible to lawsuits or creditors
Spousal trusts are established to provide your spouse with funds. These trusts also:
- Protect your children’s assets should your spouse remarry.
- Assure the inheritance of children from a previous marriage.
- Reduce income tax through income splitting.
If an estate will have significant capital gains tax due and/or debts, consider using life insurance to cover all liabilities. You can also increase the death benefit to pay off business agreement liabilities (if any) and provide specific trusts with the necessary cash.