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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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Lombard estate planning attorneyIn Part 1 of this series of posts, we talked at length about how a divorce could impact the provisions and enforceability of a person’s will. A will, in many cases, is just one component of a comprehensive estate plan, which means that there are other estate planning instruments that could be affected by a divorce. For example, you may have established one or more trusts to protect and transfer your property to your chosen beneficiaries. The types of trusts that you have set up will determine how they are affected by your divorce.

Revocable Trusts

Illinois law provides that any provisions, appointments, or nominations made regarding a person’s spouse in the person’s will are automatically revoked when a judgment of divorce is issued. The law is similar in regard to trusts but with some important differences. The differences are caused by the nature of certain kinds of trusts and the rules that apply to them.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhile you may not know the specific requirements that make one valid in the eyes of the law, you are probably familiar the concept of a will. You most likely realize that most people use a will to specify how their assets will be handled after their death. Many individuals also utilize trusts in the process of estate planning. But, what exactly is a trust and how can they help with your estate planning needs?

What Is a Trust?

A trust, at its most basic, is a fiduciary relationship that allows a person—a trustor—to give the right to hold property or assets to another person—a trustee—for the benefit of a third party or parties. There are several types of trusts that are commonly used in estate planning, but each of them has a similar structure. Assets and property are typically placed in a trust to be distributed at a later date—or over time—to the trustor’s named beneficiaries.

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