Photo of senior man standing with his arms crossedTrusts are tools. Like screwdrivers, they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, each designed to accomplish a defined result. You need a screwdriver with a tip that looks like a straight line for a screw with a head that has a straight slot in it. You need a screwdriver with a tip shaped like a plus symbol for a screw that has a head with a plus-shaped recess.

There are other kinds of screwdrivers and screws, but you get the point. You need the right set of tools in order to complete your project efficiently and well. However, not every home improvement project calls for a screwdriver and not every estate plan calls for a trust.

Common Types of Trusts

Just as there are many kinds of screwdrivers in a well-stocked toolbox, there are lots of different kinds of trusts.

You can create a trust that works during your lifetime or one that will not take effect until after you are gone. Your trust can be revocable or irrevocable, charitable or private.

The agreement that governs your trust can control not only the disposition of your assets, but impose your values and your wishes upon your beneficiaries. But don’t get too excited about that last point. A trust can encourage your kids to go to college and stay away from drugs and booze, but it can’t guarantee your kids will actually go to class, or be clean and sober.

Probably the most common trusts are revocable living trusts, which can provide comprehensive solutions for probate avoidance and for sidestepping conservatorship if you become incapacitated. Probate is a proceeding that typically occurs when an individual dies. The probate process can be long and costly. But a revocable trust can avoid probate in its entirety.

Trusts can also protect beneficiaries from creditors, ex-spouses, and their own bad habits or inability to hold on to money.

Talk with your estate planning advisors about how trusts can help you and your family avoid a variety of problems and pitfalls that await unwary travelers along life’s highway.

Scott Makuakane, Counselor at Law
808-587-8227 |