Make Your Living Trust Fit Your Estate Plan

Retirement and estate planning go hand in hand. A living trust can be a useful and flexible tool for both. A living trust is a creative way to manage your investments, both for your own benefit during your lifetime and for your family afterward. As its name implies, this is a trust you start while you're alive. You can amend or revoke it anytime, but after death it becomes an irrevocable part of your estate plan, just like your will. At the start, you can be the trustee or you can name a professional trustee- an individual or a trust institution.

-Harmonize your Will and Trust
By transferring assets into a living trust during your lifetime, you can make sure those assets avoid the costs and delays of probate. That's one of the well-known benefits of a living trust. Generally, however, you still need a will to dispose of assets you don't place in the trust. For example, you may find it inadvisable to transfer your personal effects, residence, automobiles, or checking accounts to the trust. A will also is needed to appoint a guardian for minors and to designate you executor (personal representative). During estate settlement, an executor can elect numerous tax-saving options not available to a trustee.

-Choosing your Beneficiaries
If you have a living trust, your will can provide that part or the entire residue of your estate must be "poured over" into the living trust when settlement is completed. After your lifetime the trust can carry out your wishes in many ways. For example, if you're married, you can arrange for your spouse to receive a life income, plus withdrawals of principal, if necessary for support. Then the remainder can be distributed to children or others you name. Suppose you want some or all of the trust remainder to go to Central Oregon Community College Foundation. You can provide that this be paid either immediately or else after the death of a family beneficiary.

-Get Sound Advice
Combined with your will, a living trust can be a valuable addition to your estate plan. To secure maximum benefits you should consult an attorney who's an estate-planning specialist.