When people in New York and elsewhere are creating an estate plan, they might wonder whether they need a trust if they have a will. Some people assume that a trust will not be useful for them because they are not very wealthy. However, this is not the case. Some people may want to use a will to name a guardian for their minor children and an executor, but they can use a trust to pass assets.

Assets passed using a will must go through probate. This is a legal process, and it means that there will be delays in getting assets to beneficiaries. Some people prefer using a trust for this and other reasons. A trust can allow a person to control how assets are distributed even after death. For example, a person may want their children to receive distributions on certain birthdays. A trust can specify this. The person might also want to give the trustee the discretion to make distributions at other times.

Trusts have other advantages. In blended families, they can be used to help ensure that children from the first marriage get assets. They can also reduce tax burdens. However, trusts should be reviewed periodically along with the rest of the estate plan since changes in the law can mean that changes in estate planning strategy are necessary as well.

Further complications may arise for people who have international ties and who may be creating an estate plan that must be valid in both the United States and other countries. For example, a person may own property in both New York and Germany and have beneficiaries in both places. An attorney may be able to assist a person in this estate planning process.