Trusts are a legal tool often used to pass wealth to a spouse or to the next generation, usually with rules attached. A trust is a formal legal relationship where a property owner (the Settlor or Grantor) conveys legal title to a third party (the Trustee) who then holds or uses trust property for the benefit of a person (the Beneficiary). Most trusts are written, but a trust can be established orally or can arise by operation of law.

Not everyone needs a trust, but they can be game changers when used for the right reasons. Here are a few reasons to consider using a trust: (1) controlling how your property is used by beneficiaries; (2) privacy and avoiding probate; (3) tax planning or public benefits planning; (4) disability and special needs planning; and (5) creditor protection. Trusts can also be used to avoid ancillary probate estates if you own real property in another State.

If you decide to use a trust, be certain you understand what your trust is supposed to accomplish. Knowing the purpose of the trust will help you communicate your goals with others and will give your lawyer the ability to determine whether you really need a trust, or whether some other, less complicated, legal tool would be a better fit. If the right tool for the job is a trust, then decisions need to be made regarding whether to establish it during your lifetime (a Living or inter vivos trust), or at death (a testamentary trust). Should the trust be revocable or irrevocable? Should all of your property be placed in the trust, or should you funds it with a portion of your estate? Who will serve as trustee? What rules should be included in your trust agreement regarding how trust property is used? If someone tries to sell you a trust without helping you answer these questions, then you’ve found a hammer salesman – someone who thinks every problem looks like a nail.

Introduction to Trusts for Elders and Special Needs Beneficiaries
Introduction to Trusts
Why Protect Assets?
What is Supplemental Security Income?
What is Medicaid?
Why use a Special Needs Trust?
What can a Special Needs Trust pay for?

Trust Formation and Structure
Creating the Trust
Trust Instrument and Essential Terms
The Trustee
Beneficiaries (of Trusts)
Purpose (of the Trust)
Revocation, Modification, Termination
Spendthrift Provisions
Discretion and Distribution Standards
Construction (Construing the Trust)

Funding the Trust
Funding, Generally
Sources of Funding

Trust Administration
Administration, generally
Administration and Investments
Investment Decision-making process
Income and Principal
Declaratory Judgment
Distributions, generally
Trust Ownership of a home
Distributions to family members

Medicaid Trust Rules
Trust Rules, generally
Self-Settled Trusts, generally
Third Party Trusts, generally
Income Only Trusts
Special Needs Trusts
Pooled Trusts
Sole Benefit Trusts
Funding Issues Associated with Special Needs Trusts
Distributions from Special Needs Trusts
SNT Accounting

Eligibility for Veteran’s Aid and Attendance
VA Aid and Attendance, generally
Treatment of Trusts
Revocable Trusts
Irrevocable Trusts

Tax Issues



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