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When it comes to estate planning, most people think of a will first- if they think of anything else at all. However, there are other options for managing your estate that may be much better for you and your family.

A revocable living trust, for example, has certain advantages over a will. Funds and property in trust can avoid probate, an expensive and time-consuming legal process. Trusts can be kept private after death, and have certain protections from court challenges and conservatorships. They provide valuable tax planning opportunities, including the potential for reduced estate taxes, and allow for strict distribution of funds so you can be more confident your wishes are honored after your passing.

Essentially, trusts are a sort of company formed to control a set amount of money or other property. You give an individual or institution control over the property with instructions on what it can and cannot be used for. They can also be used to manage property while you are still living, allowing for a smoother transition when you pass on. Like wills, it pays to periodically revisit trusts to ensure that they still best reflect your needs.

However, depending on what you need, it may be best to prepare a will and trust to work in conjunction. A will can be necessary to name your personal representative, guardians for any minor children, and instruct how taxes and debts should be paid. These tools are both very useful and important if you wish to exercise close control over your estate.

Ultimately, a professional estate planning lawyer will be best equipped to help you decide when and how to form a trust.

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