Transferring property from one party to another creates many crucial legal questions. How will this transfer occur? Will the receiving party need to pay taxes? What role will the probate court play in this process? These questions can combine to make the idea of transferring property very complex. However, by creating a trust, individuals can bring certainty back into the process. A trust functions by allowing a party to transfer ownership of property to another person. This transfer can happen at any time, and the property in question does not need to pass through probate.
A St. Peters trusts lawyer can provide more information about the concept of trusts and how they can form an integral part of your estate plan. To get started, reach out to a dedicated estate planning attorney today.
How Are Trusts Formed?
A trust is a type of testamentary document. This means that it can take effect upon a person’s death. However, it can also function as a way to transfer property to another party prior to the trust maker’s passing. When this transfer occurs depends upon the specific language of the trust.
Under state law, an individual may create a trust by:
- Dictating the transfer of property to another person upon the trust maker’s death or at any other specific time
- Declaring that another party is holding property as a trustee
In addition, Missouri Statute § 456.4-402 says that a trust is only valid if the maker has the intent and capacity to create the trust, the maker nominates a trustee to oversee the transfer, and the trust documentation names at least one beneficiary who is not also the trustee. If someone needs further guidance about how to draft a trust, a knowledgeable St. Peters attorney could help author a compelling document.
The Main Functions of a Trust
The main purpose of a trust is to transfer property from one party to another. An arrangement can be as simple as placing cash under the control of a trustee with instructions that this trustee will distribute the money to a beneficiary at a specific date.
However, creative trust planning can serve a variety of goals. Many people use trusts as a way to avoid taxes. Property can be moved into a trust designed so that it is no longer a taxable asset of the trust maker. In addition, the beneficiaries may not need to pay estate taxes on this property left in a properly designed trust.
A similar concept can apply to using trusts as a way to to help individuals remain or become eligible for certain government benefits. Meeting the asset requirements for Medicaid when moving into a nursing home is a strong example. Placing property in trust at least five years before filing for Medicaid benefits makes that property exempt from valuation.
Finally, trusts are an effective way to shorten and simplify the probate process. Property that sits in trust upon a person’s death is not part of that person’s probate estate. Consequently, a probate court will have no say over whether this property is subject to probate, and the state’s intestacy laws do not apply to these assets. Talking with a lawyer in St. Peters could help people better understand the many benefits of drafting a trust.
Contact a St. Peters Trusts Attorney Today
Proper estate planning requires an in-depth examination of your assets and the tools available to you. For many people, this can include forming trusts that serve as an effective and efficient way to transfer property.
In contrast to wills, trusts are not part of the probate process. This means that property can move with minimal interference from the courts. In addition, putting assets into a trust can have significant tax benefits. Reach out to a St. Peters trusts lawyer to discuss whether this option is right for you.