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Are Trusts Used Enough?

For years elder law and estate planning attorneys have been telling people that they should make revocable living trusts a part of their estate plans. However, it appears that only a small fraction of people have actually taken the advice.

Revocable living trusts offer a great way to distribute your assets after you pass away without the hassle and expense of probate. They are a relatively simple tool most elder law and estate planning attorneys suggest to solve a wide variety of estate planning issues. Despite that, very few Americans actually use trusts. Recently, FiveThirtyEight looked at the numbers in an article titled Dear Mona, How Many Kids Have Trust Funds?

Using data from the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, the article notes that only 1.3 percent of Americans have inherited money through a trust fund. One of the reasons that trusts might not be used very often is that people tend to think you need to be extremely wealthy to use one as part of an estate plan. However, the survey shows that is not the case. The median inheritance received through a trust by those surveyed was $285,000. Although the average amount was much higher, the median value shows that trusts have been used to give modest inheritances.

The truth is that anyone can set up a trust. They are not just for the very wealthy. Of course, trusts for the extremely wealthy and trusts for those of more modest means will often look different, but an elder law or estate planning attorney can set up a revocable living trust that is appropriate regardless of the size of your estate.

Reference: FiveThirtyEight (August 21, 2014) Dear Mona, How Many Kids Have Trust Funds?

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