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There was a time when only the very wealthy created trusts. That is not the case today. Trust arrangements are used by people from all walks of life who wish to make a gift to someone, but, for a variety of reasons, do not feel comfortable leaving the gift to that person outright. Trusts can be a substitute for other estate planning tools, such as wills, or they can be used together.

Trusts include many areas of the law that you may wish to explore, these include:

At Wilhite & Associates, our experienced Civil Law Attorney can assist you in deciding what kind of trust arrangement will best meet your needs.

What is a trust?

A trust is actually a rather simple arrangement. The settlor is the person who makes the trust, and funds it with his or her property. The trustee is the person who has legal title to the property in the trust. The trustee is responsible for protecting, investing and managing the trust property. The trustee may be the settlor, another person, a corporation, or a charity (if the trust if for the benefit of a charity). In some situations, a beneficiary may also serve as a trustee.

The trust is designed to benefit a certain person or group of people, called the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries do not have legal title to the trust property, and cannot reach it or spend it at once. Instead, the trustee will be authorized to make payments to the beneficiary at certain times, or at the trustee’s discretion. When and how often these disbursements are made is one of the things the settlor decides. These disbursements may be of the trust property, or of interest earned off of the property, or both.

Trust arrangements are preferred in situations where the settlor feels the beneficiary cannot handle large sums of money. This may be because the beneficiary is a child, is incompetent, or if irresponsible or inexperienced with handling money.

Creating a trust

There are many ways to create a trust. Some options include:

  • Self declaration: a property owner can declare that he holds property in trust for himself or another person
  • Transfer to a third person named as trustee
  • Testamentary trust: you may leave a gift in a will to another person, in trust for a third person

In order for a trust to be valid, certain elements must be met. There must be a settlor who delivers trust property to a trustee (unless the settlor is the trustee). There must be the intent to create a trust, for the benefit of a beneficiary. The trust must be for a lawful purpose, and the trust agreement usually must be in writing.

Our Houston Family Lawyers can help you decide what kind of trust arrangement is best for you, and help you create it properly.

Trusts as Will Substitutes

There are many different kinds of trusts, and they can be used for many purposes. Some types of trusts may be used instead of wills, to achieve similar goals. Some people decide to execute both a will and a trust arrangement. Others decide to include a trust in their will. Our attorneys can help you decide what kind of estate plan is right for you.

It is possible to execute a trust agreement in place of a will. For example, a settlor can create a revocable trust which provides for the disposition of property upon the settlor’s death. Because the trust is revocable, the settlor can change the terms of the trust if their property – or relationship with the beneficiaries – changes.

Trusts can also be used to provide for the settlor in his or her old age and avoid guardianship proceedings. You should speak to an attorney about your concerns and your goals, and your attorney can apprise you of all your options.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. | Texas Estate Planning and Trust Lawyers

It’s never too early to start considering where your property will go at the end of your life. The family lawyers at Wilhite & Associates, P.C., are here to help you create an estate plan that is right for your needs and fulfills your goals. If you are in the greater Houston area, including Harris, Montgomery, or Fort Bend Counties, and you are curious about what kind of arrangement will work best for you, contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. represents clients from all over Southeast Texas, including:

Harris County - Aldine, Atascocita, Barrett, Barker, Baytown, Bellaire, Brownwood, Bunker Hill Village, Channelview, Clear Lake, Cloverleaf, Crosby, Cypress, Deer Park, East Houston, El Lago, Galena Park, Hedwig Village, Highlands, Hilshire Village, Houston, Hudson, Humble, Hunters Creek Village, Jacinto City, Jersey Village, Katy, Kingwood, Klein, La Porte, Louetta, Lynchburg, Nassau Bay, North Houston, Pasadena, Piney Point Village, Seabrook, Sheldon, Shoreacres, South Houston, Southside Place, Spring, Spring Valley, Taylor Lake Village, Tomball, Webster, West University Place

Montgomery County - Conroe, Cut and Shoot, Magnolia, Montgomery, Oak Ridge North, Panorama Village, Patton Village, Roman Forest, Shenandoah, Splendora, Stagecoach, Willis, Woodbranch, Woodloch, The Woodlands

Fort Bend County - Arcola, Beasley, Fairchilds, Fulshear, Kendleton, Meadows Place, Missouri City, Needville, Orchard, Pleak, Richmond, Rosenberg, Simonton, Stafford, Sugar Land, Thompsons

Waller County - Brookshire, Hempstead, Pattison, Pine Island, Prairie View, Waller

Grimes County - Anderson, Bedias, Iola, Navasota, Todd Mission

Washington County - Brenham, Burton, Chappell Hill

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This site is sponsored by George W. Wilhite, P.C. Our principal office is located in Harris County, Texas at 17101 Kuykendahl Rd., Houston, TX 77068.

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