The New Year is here, and many Georgians have resolved to change things in their life for the better in 2020. While some people may have resolved to lose weight, better manage their finances or make other personal changes, one resolution that may go overlooked is estate planning. However, the New Year may be the right time for many to execute an trust or review an existing one. The following are some issues regarding trusts that are worth considering as we head into the next decade.
First, it is important to note that 2020 is an election year. Politicians may be apt to try to change laws that can affect a person’s estate plan. Estate planning attorneys may be able to advice clients on current laws or new ones, so that those executing a trust or reviewing an existing one can make informed decisions.
If your estate plan includes a trust, it is important that any gifts made during the grantor’s lifetime will not affect the intentions they have for future trust distributions. Certain types of trusts can be executed that allow for gifts to be made or to protect trust assets from creditors. Similarly, life insurance policies should be reviewed to ensure that they will not be adversely affected by any changes in law.
Finally, it is important to fund a trust. A trust with no assets leaves beneficiaries with no inheritance. Assets should be transferred to the trust, so that the grantor’s intentions are met, and heirs are not left hanging. A properly funded trust may also bypass the probate process — another benefit to creating a trust.
Trusts are a popular estate planning vehicle, but they can also be complex. Perhaps the biggest pitfall to avoid is to assume that a trust is a “set it and forget it” document. Properly executed trusts should take all applicable laws into account, and trusts should be reviewed periodically to ensure that they are not adversely affected by changes in the law. With the right help, those who have a trust or are looking to create one can ensure that the final document is legally sound and meets their wishes.