An Overview of the Different Kinds of Trusts

Trusts are legal arrangements that ensure the administration of a deceased person’s assets align with what they would have wanted. Additionally, trusts work on behalf of your beneficiaries in your absence.

Not all trusts are the same, however. The three main types of trusts are living trusts (aka revocable trusts), testamentary trusts, revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.

Living trusts are created while you are alive. Alternatively, testamentary trusts are set up after death in accordance with the contents of your will. Similarly, you can make alterations to revocable trusts while you are living, but irrevocable trusts cannot be amended or revoked after they are established (with some exceptions).

The many different types of trusts

There are many types of trusts, all of which serve their own individual purposes. Let’s take a close look at eleven different trust types.

Charitable trusts

Charitable trusts are irrevocable. They are designed to simultaneously benefit you, your beneficiaries and a qualified charity under IRS rules. The two primary types of charitable trusts are charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts.

A charitable lead trust is designed to support one or more charities for a specified period. After that, the trust reverts to other beneficiaries. On the other hand, a charitable remainder trust provides you with an income stream. From there, it reverts to the named charity after you die.

Qualified terminable interest property trusts

QTIP trusts are set up to provide income for your surviving spouse. QTIP trusts are most useful when beneficiaries exist from a previous marriage, and you die before your subsequent spouse.

Grantor-retained annuity trusts

Grantor-retained annuity trusts are irrevocable. They are set up for a specific period to minimize taxes on large financial gifts that are destined to go to family members or other beneficiaries.

You’ll pay taxes on the assets when you establish the trust. Then, you’ll receive an annual payment for the entire term of the trust. After that, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining assets.

Irrevocable life insurance trusts

Irrevocable life insurance trusts can be used to exclude life insurance proceeds from your taxable estate. You can also make use of this type of trust when you want to transfer the death benefit immediately to one or all of your beneficiaries.

Irrevocable funeral trusts

Irrevocable funeral trusts are ideal when your priority is to put aside money to cover your own burial and funeral costs. However, state laws vary in regard to irrevocable funeral trusts, so make sure you consult with an attorney about your options when it comes to this type of trust.

Spendthrift trusts

Spendthrift trusts protect inherited assets from the potential financial responsibility of your beneficiaries.

Special needs trusts

Special needs trusts allow you to direct how assets can be used for beneficiaries who have special needs. This is helpful in instances where the person with special needs may not be able to provide for themselves or manage the financial requirements of an inheritance.

Generation-skipping trusts

Generation-skipping trusts will skip your children and become applicable for the next generation instead. This is a beneficial way of ensuring that your assets go directly to your grandchildren and their financial well-being.

Irrevocable Income Only Trusts (Medicaid Asset Protections Trusts). This Trust is established to protect assets from the future cost of long term.  It must be created and funded five (5) years before applying for Medicaid\ Title XIX.

Asset protect trusts

Asset protect trusts are the most ironclad option. They are incredible tools when you want to protect your assets from creditors. Just keep in mind that they can be very expensive to establish.

Trusts can even help you leave a legacy for a charitable cause that you believe in and want to support. No matter what your wishes are, there’s a trust out there that can meet your expectations and serve you well.

Consult with your experienced Estate Planning attorney to determine the trust type that makes the most sense for you. Understanding what you want from your trust and how you want it to affect those who survive you will help you achieve your goals.

Do you have questions?

Count on your experienced team at Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance for your Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Probate, Trust & Estate Administration, and other legal needs. For assistance, contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at 

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