There are several useful reasons to consider a trust as part of an estate plan. A frequently used reason is to avoid the need to probate a Will. This is most important when the deceased individual did not have any immediate family members surviving. The probate process could be lengthy and expensive while searches are run to find the heirs to the estate. This process could be avoided with a trust. A trust is also a useful device to manage money for a minor or a spend-thrift individual who does not handle money well. Trusts can also be helpful to hold assets if the individual is facing a divorce or creditor problems.

Trusts can also be used as part of an asset protection plan for Medicaid planning. An elder law attorney can explain how the trust is used under the current Medicaid rules which impose a 5 year look back period for some transfers of assets.

A particular type of trust, called a supplemental needs trust should always be established for an individual with a lifetime disability who may at some point be in need of government benefits.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. I invite you to contact me and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Robert W. Shaw is licensed in New York.