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What Is a Family Trust?
A family trust is a type of trust used to transfer property or assets from one person to another. Also known as revocable living trusts, a family trust is so named because it’s often used to transfer property to relatives in lieu of a will. While it is similar to a will document, a family trust is distinct in many ways. For instance:
- The transfers do not need to go through the probate process
- Courts cannot control the assets if the trust creator becomes incapacitated
- The trust creator can retain control of the property even though title has been transferred to the trust
Thus, many people choose to set up a family trust for transferring property. Doing so can have many other advantages, such as those related to estate taxes (the trust creator or grantor doesn’t have to pay taxes on the property as the title is no longer under their name).
What Can Be Transferred in a Family Trust?
Family trusts may be used to transfer things such as:
- Items of personal property such as family heirlooms or jewels
- Homes and other types of real property
- Stocks and other types of securities
In order to the transfer to be valid, you will need to name a trustee in the trust documents. This is the person who will be charged with the responsibility of managing the property before it’s transferred to the recipient. In some cases, the grantor may also choose to appoint a successor trustee who can take over responsibilities in case they or the original trustee become incapacitated.
What If I Have a Dispute over a Family Trust?
Trust disputes can often arise, especially when it comes to the terms or conditions of a family trust. For instance, a beneficiary may be contesting the conditions that need to be fulfilled before they can receive the property. Or, a trustee may have violated one of their duties according to the trust document (for instance, they aren’t supposed to use the trust assets for their own purposes).
In many cases, it can be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to resolve a trust dispute. This may result in a damages award paid by the defendant to the plaintiff. Other remedies may include terminating the trustee, reworking property distributions, or other actions.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Family Trust?
Family trust arrangements can often involve some very complex transfers. You may need to hire a lawyer for help when it comes to drafting a family trust document. Your attorney can help ensure that the documents are valid and that they follow the trust laws in your area. Your lawyer will also be able to provide representation if a lawsuit needs to be filed or pursued.
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Last Modified: 01-07-2015 03:08 PM PST
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