“I only need a simple Trust” is a request I hear often. However, this “self-diagnosis” may not always be the right one.
A “simple” probate avoidance trust may or may not be the best fit for each family dynamic. There are two main factors which dictate the complexity of the trust terms: (1) the types of assets that will be titled in the Trust (i.e., out of State real property, business entities, etc.) and (2) the family dynamic.
The latter may suggest that your trust should contain provisions affording divorce or creditor protection, small business or S-Corporation business transfer, beneficiary Substance Abuse protection, or provisions anticipating the formation of a Special Needs Trust for a qualifying beneficiary, to name a few.
While everyone can benefit from a “simple” probate avoidance trust, which is indeed fairly affordable, it is equally important to “dig deeper” and ensure that the more complex provisions are also included where applicable. These provisions can go a long way, and surely be worth their weight in gold, should the need arise to put them into practice. In this sense, less maybe not more when it comes to estate planning. More complex trusts involve more involved drafting, and as such, are a bit pricier to set up – but the benefit of having those more involved terms in your trust can far outweigh the cost, given the tremendous advantage they can extend to your beneficiaries who – at the time of distribution – may be facing divorce, bankruptcy, a lawsuit, or, due to special needs, qualify to receive government assistance.
For that reason, although a “simple trust” is better than none at all, exploring those more involved trust provisions with your attorney is part of necessary due diligence when planning for your estate.