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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Why Trusts Can Make Your Will More Effective

POSTED ON: August 29, 2011

Whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere, estate planning with trusts can ensure your family’s safety. A recent legal battle showed exactly why adding a trust to your will can mean the difference between having your true intentions carried out and setting your family up for a world of headaches.

In this case a man inherited $400,000 in cash from his aunt. The man’s ex-wife went to court and claimed that as a result, his child support payments should be increased.

The man protested but after a long legal battle the Court of Appeals agreed with the ex-wife. Even though the $400,000 wasn’t wages or earnings, the Court said it was still a “resource” that had to be considered in determining how much the father had to pay for his two children.

Now, it is impossible to tell how the aunt would have felt about this outcome. Perhaps she would have been happy that her money would be used to take care of her nephew’s children. However, she probably never considered that after her death, a large portion of her assets would end up under the direct control of her nephew’s ex-wife.

If the aunt had set up a trust as part of her will, she could have set the $400,000 into the trust and direct that it be used to benefit the nephew and his children. In that way, she would have had control over how the money was spent for their benefit – rather than the ex-wife. After all, estate planning to a large degree is about control—seeing that your wishes are carried out for the benefit of others as you see fit. Why should that control be given to anyone else, especially someone no longer in the family?

In addition, the use of a trust could have avoided an expensive and emotionally draining legal fight over who got the money.

Trusts can be an excellent way to protect assets if you’re considering leaving an inheritance to someone who might otherwise lose the property for any number of reasons, including divorce, lawsuits, business problems, addiction, or simply a lack of investment acumen.

The Heritage Law Center can help you decide what type of trust is most appropriate and help you protect your family, even when you are gone.