You may not have thought about placing your assets in a trust. It might seem too complicated, or you may think it’s just not necessary at this time. And thinking about a trust also means thinking about not being around anymore, and that’s never pleasant. But there are some good reasons to consider seeing an estate planner and discussing the pros and cons of putting your assets in a trust.
Very simply, a trust is a big box where you can store your assets until you’re ready to give them to someone else. Unlike a will, which is a list of directions for giving away your things, a trust is more like a gift you give to others when you’re gone.
Once you place items in the trust, your assets will stay there until you take them back out again. In an irrevocable or unbreakable trust, nobody can take them out. They are there until you die, and they are given to the beneficiary. In a revocable trust, you can take things out, but the beneficiary cannot. In some cases, you or the beneficiary may receive payments from the trust, like stock dividend payments.
A trust lets you control who has access to your property, and when. Trusts also allow you to disburse some of your assets before you die and to provide for minor children or for disabled or special needs family members who may not be able to manage their own funds. Your estate planner will discuss the benefits of a trust with you. Contact us today.
Four Reasons To Establish Your Trust
You may think you don’t need a trust, but consider these benefits:
Control of your assets. The trust does not exist until it is made, but after that, the trustee has total control over the trust. You will be able to manage where your assets go, who has control of them, and when they are dispersed. For instance, if you want a trustee to handle your children’s finances until they are out of college, the trust structure provides the way for them to do that. Your children remain the beneficiaries and can receive payments from the trust.
Avoids probate. A trust goes into effect immediately upon the death of the grantor (you). At this point, the trust becomes irrevocable, and nothing can be changed, so there is no need for a judge to make any decisions about interpretation. The trustee can make any distributions needed and manage the other trust property as before.
Provide for minor, disabled, or spendthrift beneficiaries. By designating certain assets ahead of time for beneficiaries who will need a designated trustee, you can ensure these individuals are properly cared for. If you have beneficiaries whose access you want to restrict, there are ways to prevent them from receiving too much money at once.
Protection in case of disability. Living to extreme old age in good condition is no longer an impossibility, but assisted living facilities are not cheap. Placing your assets in a trust today can be a way to ensure you have the funds you need to live your twilight years in comfort rather than squalor.
In some situations, you should always have trust arrangements in place. If you have a special needs child who is unable to live outside the home, long-term financial planning is a must. Someday you will not be there for your child, and you do not want to leave them to the kindness of strangers.
This is also true if you have a family history of any mental or physical degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The worst that could happen is that you reach healthy old age with extra money in your trust.
How We Can Help
There is no wrong time to make your estate plan. If you have concerns about your future, you should start thinking about how you want to have your property managed when you are not here to do it. Financial planning is the best way to be sure your loved ones are cared for if you are not here to look after them.
Anyone can establish a trust, provided they have something to put into it. You don’t need to be wealthy or have lots of property to have a trust. If you want to discuss your estate plan, contact the Dallas estate planning lawyers of Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 for a free consultation to talk about your assets and the right kind of trust for you and your family. We have the experience you need.
Estate planning can be uncomfortable. Nobody wants to contemplate their own demise. At the same time, you want your loved ones to be provided for after you die and for your estate to be properly distributed when you’re not there to oversee the distribution. And, having worked very hard to reach this point, you don’t want your estate to be frittered away by taxes and fees.
Of course, you will not be paying any inheritance or estate taxes. That duty will fall to your heirs and beneficiaries. The purpose of estate planning is to minimize the amount of taxes that need to be paid out from your estate. Your estate planner will explain how your estate is valued in more detail, but there are some things you need to know going into a planning session.
Inheritance tax. This is a tax heirs must pay for the income they receive from the deceased. The state of Texas abolished inheritance tax in 2015. The inheritance tax is levied against the beneficiaries on the value of the portion of the estate they receive once they inherit.
Estate tax. Texas has no estate tax. The federal government taxes large estates valued at $11.7 million or higher. The value of the estate is determined prior to the beneficiaries taking their share; in other words, before it has been divided.
Revocable trust. These trusts allow you, the grantor, to move property in and out of the trust at will during your lifetime. Property in a revocable trust will be valued as part of the estate when it is reassessed following your death.
Irrevocable trust. When property is placed in an irrevocable trust, it cannot be removed until after you die. This means that when your estate is valued, anything in an irrevocable trust will not be included by the IRS.
Pour-over will. This type of will automatically transfers all of your current assets into your trust when you die, without the need for further action by your executor.
Estate planning to ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries can keep the largest portion of their inheritance can be a complex affair. Making things more complicated is the changing estate tax exemption. To keep pace with inflation and cost of living, the IRS adjusts the estate tax exemption annually according to a preset cap. This will change again in 2025.
In our global community, it is not uncommon for people to have property, both tangible and intangible, in other states, possibly even other countries. Even with a properly managed trust, this other property may be subject to the estate and inheritance tax laws of that state. For instance, although Texas does not have an inheritance tax, Maryland does. Any property owned and transferred in Maryland will be governed by Maryland’s tax laws.
Your Dallas estate planning attorney can guide you through these complex regulations and make sure your wishes are properly stated in your trust. If there are conflicting laws in other states, it is better to discover them ahead of time than to have your heirs find out about them later.
How We Can Help
Anyone with an estate below $75,000 in Texas does not even need to leave a will. Their estate can be managed by the heirs with a simple acknowledgment to the court. If you have real property and large amounts of money and personal property that you want your loved ones to be able to keep after you are gone, you should have solid legal advice and estate planning, rather than trusting to the whims of fate.
The expert legal team at Staubus and Randall focuses exclusively on the details of estate planning and litigation. We want to be sure that people with even modest estates avoid costly legal battles and endless probate, and hand their property over to their heirs with a minimum of effort.
Our Dallas estate planning lawyers will review your assets and advise you about the best ways to protect them and your heirs and beneficiaries, including revocable and irrevocable trusts, living trusts, and pour-over wills. We will make certain that your final documents accurately reflect your wishes and desires in clear and concise terms.
We have been practicing estate and probate law in the Dallas area for many years. Contact the of Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 if you want to draft your will, need help with your estate planning, or have any other questions about property disposition. If you already have these documents and want help with amendments or codicils, we can work with you on those too.
You should consider all available options when creating an estate plan. A living trust can protect your assets while you’re alive and the trust can transfer automatically to named beneficiaries upon your death or incapacitation. It’s a valuable part of estate planning to ensure your loved ones receive the property you want them to have if something happens to you.
A living trust differs from a will because it doesn’t become effective when you die. It’s effective from the moment you create it while you’re still alive.
You can also appoint yourself as the trustee so you can continue to manage it throughout your lifetime. You can determine which assets you want to be held in trust and amend the legal document when necessary. For example, you might choose a beneficiary to receive a specific property but need to change the designation if they pass away before you.
There are multiple advantages and disadvantages to creating a living trust. You should consult an experienced estate planning lawyer to determine whether a living trust is right for you. Below are the pros and cons of establishing a trust for your estate plan so you can decide whether it will satisfy your wishes.
Pros of a Living Trust
You could benefit from a living trust in multiple ways. Some of the advantages of creating one include:
Asset protection if you’re incapacitated – If you become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself, a living trust can keep your assets safe. It also protects your beneficiaries. Appointing a successor trustee allows that person to control the trust and distribute your property according to the instructions you included in the legal document.
Avoid probate – You could avoid probate by creating a revocable living trust. Probate can be a long process. When a loved one dies, you must go through probate court for a judge to validate the will and allow for the distribution of the assets. A living trust doesn’t have to go through probate, so your successor trustee can automatically transfer the assets to your intended beneficiaries upon your death.
Maintain privacy – Any part of an estate plan that must go through probate becomes a matter of public record. That means anyone could search online for the documents and find out what assets your relative left behind. If there’s a living trust, which does not go through probate, your named beneficiaries can keep the matter private, so no one knows which property they’re receiving.
Prevent irresponsible spending – If you’re a parent, you want to know you can take care of your child even after you’re gone. However, many people don’t know how to manage their money responsibly. You might worry your child won’t know how to manage the high-value asset or significant amount of money you left for them. Fortunately, a trust allows you to appoint a guardian to control your child’s spending.
Cons of a Living Trust
Although a trust offers various benefits, there are some drawbacks to creating one. The most common disadvantages of a living trust include:
Time-consuming work – If you want your assets to be distributed to your beneficiaries without going through probate, you must transfer them to your trust. It can take some time to decide which property you want to hold in trust and go through the necessary measures to transfer those items.
No protection from creditors – If you have a revocable living trust, creditors can go after the assets to satisfy your debts after you die. That means it could take some time for your family to receive the remaining property, if any, after the creditors take what they need.
Confusing documents – Unfortunately, if you don’t create a clear and detailed trust, there might be some confusion about the distribution of assets upon your death. If it conflicts with your will or another document in your estate plan, your beneficiaries could face a contentious court battle.
Money. The initial costs of creating and funding a trust are more than is required to create a will. Additionally, the assets you hold in trust could be subject to estate and income taxes.
Contact Staubus and Randall
If you’re considering setting up a trust as part of your estate plan, you should contact the Dallas estate planning lawyers of Staubus and Randall today. We can review your assets and other information to determine whether a trust is right for you. Our legal team understands the importance of protecting your property and heirs when you pass away or if you become incapacitated. You can depend on us to protect your interests and create an estate plan that meets your needs.
Call Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 for a free consultation with one of our Dallas estate planning attorneys or reach out to us online.
A living trust is a legal document you can establish to protect your assets during your lifetime. Your appointed trustee has the authority to manage any property and assets you move into the trust and eventually transfer them to your named beneficiaries as outlined in the document upon your death or incapacitation.
Everyone knows they should create a last will and testament. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how beneficial a living trust can be.
If you’re considering your options during estate planning, you should review the main reasons below for why you should create a living trust.
You’re Unable to Make Decisions for Yourself
Creating a living trust protects any assets you transfer into the trust during your lifetime so your loved ones can have access to them if you become incapacitated. It’s a good idea to set up a living trust if you have a terminal illness, cognitive disease, or are older.
If something happens to you and you can’t speak for yourself, the trustee you choose can manage your trust on your behalf.
Even if you’re young and healthy, creating a living trust is an excellent idea in case you’re involved in a traumatic accident, such as a car crash, and end up in a coma. You won’t be able to inform your family of your wishes or how to pay for your medical bills and other expenses. However, granting your trustee access to the trust allows them to manage your funds without the need to go to court.
You’re Responsible for the Care of Minor Children
If you want to ensure your child’s future, you can hold specific property in your living trust to have transferred to them when they reach the age you designate.
Some people decide 18 years old is the right age to give their kids access to their assets. However, others might think that’s too young for someone to be responsible for managing their own finances and choose to transfer assets out of the living trust and to the children once they reach 25 or even 30 years old.
When you establish a living trust, you can be the trustee yourself and appoint a successor trustee in case something happens to you, or you can decide who you want to be the trustee. The trustee manages the assets held in trust until they can transfer them to your children based on the directions you left behind.
You can also include specific terms regarding which assets your children can access and at what ages. For example, you can create a payment plan for your kids to receive a predetermined amount of money every month starting at the age you decide. That way, they can’t spend the funds frivolously all at once.
Your Beneficiaries Won’t Have to Go Through Probate
Probate can be a complicated and time-consuming process. It involves a probate judge validating a deceased’s person’s estate and allowing the beneficiaries to receive the assets outlined in the legal document. Unfortunately, that means it could take weeks or even months before your heirs can use the funds and additional property left to them in your estate plan.
With a living trust, your beneficiaries can avoid probate and gain immediate access to your assets upon your death, incapacitation, or another specified event without going to court for authorization first.
Keep Your Private Matters Private
If your surviving relatives have to go through probate to receive your assets, your estate becomes a matter of public record. Anyone can look up the information online, preventing your estate from remaining private.
If you set up a living trust, your family avoids the probate process and can manage your assets privately. That means no one will have the ability to search for the assets you owned when you died and your named beneficiaries that took ownership of them after completing probate.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
You don’t want your loved ones to struggle if something happens to you. You want to ensure they’re taken care of if you’re no longer able to care for them whether you pass away or become incapacitated. Creating a solid estate plan can protect your property and family and give you peace of mind knowing your heirs will receive the assets you left for them without any obstacles getting in their way.
If you’re thinking about creating a living trust, you should speak with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney from Staubus and Randall. We can review your assets to determine whether a living trust could be beneficial for you. Call us today at 214-691-3411.
Although trusts are designed to operate without any court supervision, trust beneficiaries have the right to file suit to enforce the express terms of the trust, as well as to enforce the legal duties owed to them by the trustee, referred to as “fiduciary duties.” Among these fiduciary duties owed to each beneficiary (including “remainder beneficiaries” who have only a future right to income or principal distributions) are the following:
Duty of full disclosure
Duty to account
Duty to keep and maintain accurate trust records
Duty of loyalty (including the duty not to self-deal)
Duty to make the trust property productive
Duty to reasonably exercise their discretion
Beneficiaries to whom any of these duties have been breached have legal remedies which they can have enforced by a District Court, or in a larger county by a “Statutory Probate Court” (such as Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Harris, Bexar or Travis Counties). Some of these court-ordered remedies include the following:
Compelling the trustee to take an action
Enjoining the trustee from taking an action
Ordering the trustee to pay back money or to restore property
Ordering the trustee to provide a detailed accounting
Suspending or removing the trustee
Denying the trustee’s compensation
Awarding a judgment against the trustee for actual and punitive damages
Having the Court supervise the trust and oversee all transactions
In addition, beneficiaries can invoke the power of a court to seek an increase in the amount of their distributions from the trust, to modify the terms of the trust, or to terminate the trust and have the trust assets distributed outright. When a trust owns an interest in a limited partnership or a limited liability company, the trust litigation may involve claims against the general partner or managers of those entities, in addition to the trustee.
The fiduciary duties imposed on trustees have been described as one of the highest duties imposed by law. Trust beneficiaries have significant remedies, and the court has extremely wide latitude in enforcing those duties, and in awarding attorneys fees to such beneficiaries incurred in enforcing those rights.
The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.
Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.
What Our Clients Say
"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."
"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."
"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."
"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”
"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”
"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)
"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed."
(contested guardianship and will contest)
"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”
"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."
"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."