When it's time to do your estate planning – and it's actually never too soon to begin – you may find the process, at first, to be somewhat bewildering. You'll have many questions: What sort of arrangements should I make? Who should get what? And when? How can you address these and other issues?
You'll need to get some help. In drawing up your estate plan, you will need to work with an attorney. And for guidance on the investments that can help fund your estate planning arrangements, such as a living trust, you can draw on the help of a financial advisor. You also may want to connect with a trust company, which can help facilitate your estate plans and coordinate the activities of your legal and financial professionals.
Of course, you might think that only the very wealthy need a trust company. But that's not really the case – people of many income levels have long used these companies. As long as you have a reasonable amount of financial assets, you likely can benefit from the various services provided by a trust organization.
And these services can range from administration of a variety of trusts (such as living trusts and charitable trusts) to asset-management services (bill-paying, check-writing, etc.) to safekeeping services (such as providing secure vaults for jewelry and collectibles).
In short, using a trust company can make things a lot easier when it's time to plan and execute your estate. A trust company can help you in the following ways:
Avoiding family squabbles – It's unfortunate, but true: Dividing the assets of an estate can cause ill will and turmoil among family members. But a trust company can act as a neutral third party, thus minimizing any feelings of unfairness.
Providing greater control – When you establish an arrangement such as a living trust, administered by the trust company, you can give yourself great control over how you want your assets distributed. For example, you can specify that a certain child receive portions of your estate spaced out over several years – a move that may appeal to you if you think this child might not be ready to handle large sums all at once.
Saving time and effort – As mentioned above, when you work with a trust company, you can let it do all the "legwork" of coordinating your plans with your financial professional, tax advisor and attorney. And these professionals are used to dealing with trust companies.
Gaining protection – Trust companies assume fiduciary responsibility for your financial well-being – which means that your best interests will always be considered in each service and transaction performed.
You can choose from among a variety of trust companies, large and small. Before choosing one, you may want to check out the services and fees of a few different firms. In any case, as you move toward that time of your life when estate planning becomes more essential, talk to your attorney, tax advisor and financial professional about whether using the services of a trust company might be right for you.
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants, Inc.
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