Article 89-Estate Planning Series: This Is How a Trust Can Help Protect Your Spouse

Written by Wright Law on . Posted in Estate Planning, Trusts

Your family, like all families, must deal with the complications of life.  These are the challenges that come, usually unexpectedly, and throw a wrench in the plans we have for ourselves and our loved ones. 

I recall meeting one man overwhelmed with the challenges of taking care of his wife. She had profound dementia, and he was exhausted.  He could no longer care for her alone.

Of even greater concern was the fact that his health was beginning to fail.  He was terrified that he would pass before her.  If that happened, how could he ensure that their assets would be used for her benefit?  She would not be able to make decisions for herself.  Someone else would have control of their assets, and he would not be around to make sure those assets were used properly.

In fact, he did end up passing before her.

However, because he came to see me, we were able to do some “disability planning.”  We did this by placing those assets in a trust drafted specifically to address this issue.

Placing assets in a trust is like placing them in a wagon.  You maintain control over the assets because you maintain control over the wagon.  You are the one who “pulls” the wagon. 

In this case, we drafted the trust to provide that - on his passing (or incapacity) - a previously designated individual (called a successor trustee) would continue “pulling” the wagon.  The assets in the wagon continued to belong to this man and his wife, even though he had passed and she was incapacitated.  As a result, the successor trustee could use those assets only for the benefit of this man’s wife.

This is just one of many ways a properly drafted trust can be a source of protection. 

© 2016 Steven J Wright  

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