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DuPage County trusts attorneysWouldn’t it be nice if every individual was fiscally responsible and able to make good decisions about money? Of course it would be, but, sadly, that is the world we live in. In reality, countless people have a tough time with their finances and establishing healthy spending habits. For people like this, money tends to burn a hole in their pocket, so to speak, and is often spent in frivolous ways—at least according to their family members and friends.

This issue is frequently relevant in the realm of estate planning, as those who are creating an estate plan may have concerns about leaving a large inheritance to a child, grandchild, or another heir who has shown to be bad with money. They worry that the assets that they have worked hard to accumulate will be gone quickly, but they fear that potential family in-fighting that could result from cutting the would-be heir out of the estate plan entirely. If you are facing such a dilemma, you might consider using an incentive trust.

What Is an Incentive Trust?

By definition, an incentive trust is a trust arrangement through which you—the creator—can set conditions on how the assets of the trust will be distributed. Your conditions could be set to reward “good” behavior or to discourage behavior that you feel to be destructive or negative. For example, you could set up an incentive trust so that the trust’s assets will only be distributed to your named beneficiary after he or she graduates from high school and starts college. You could even increase the disbursement from the trust when the beneficiary completes his or her degree program.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneyMore than half of Americans do not have any estate planning documents in place at all. Those that do most often have a will and nothing more. However, there are many estate planning instruments above and beyond a last will which can be greatly beneficial. One of these instruments is a trust.

Some people shy away from trusts because they do know exactly how trusts work or how a trust can benefit them and their family. Others assume that only the wealthy require trusts to handle the distribution of assets after their death. Neither of these estate planning myths is true. Read on to learn about the basics of trusts and how a trust may be able to work for you. 

How a Trust Works

In a last will and testament, an individual writes directions for how his or her property should be distributed to heirs upon his or her death. A trust can also address how property is passed down to beneficiaries, but in a different way. A trust establishes an agreement between a testator and a trustee. The testator is the person creating the trust and may also be referred to as a settlor or grantor. The trustee is tasked with managing the settlor’s assets and distributing those assets according to instructions contained in the trust. The trustee is a fiduciary with a legal obligation to follow the terms of the trust and avoid any self-dealing or conflicts of interest in managing assets contained in a trust.

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