By Matthew V. Piwowar – The amount of your wealth or what assets you own are not the determining factors for deciding if you need a living trust. When so-called financial or legal experts say you don’t need a living trust because you are not rich, then you know that person is not qualified to discuss estate planning. The same is true if they say a living trust is unnecessary because you do not have an estate tax problem. The amount of your wealth and the type assets are the least important factors when deciding if you need a living trust. Your only questions should be:
(i) Do you want to protect your loved ones from legal and financial turmoil, and from possible scams?
(ii) Do you want to protect your assets and to have control over what happens when you are disabled (mental or physical)?
(iii) Do you want to keep your financial and health matters private?
(iv) Do you want to protect your legacy from your creditors, and your children’s and grandchildren’s creditors?
(v) Do want to ensure in the event of your children’s death, that your estate goes to your grandchildren, and not your son-in-law’s or daughter-in-law’s new spouse or children?
(vi) Do you want to protect your estate if your children or grandchildren get a divorce?
(vii) Do you want to reduce the legal fees and other costs of settling your estate?
(viii) Do you love your family?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then you need a living trust. Unlike a simple will, which protects nothing from the risks of the world, a trust can protect everything you own, everything you earned during your lifetime, everyone you care about, and even yourself when you are disabled. How, what, and who you protect with a trust is limited only by your imagination. And, oh yeah, there are still some great tax benefits too!
Matthew V. Piwowar is an estate planning attorney based in metro Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mr. Piwowar is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys and the Michigan Forum of Estate Planners.