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Learning About Trusts - The Spendthrift Trust

Learning About Trusts - The Spendthrift Trust and When to Use It

By Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd.


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Attorney RJ Connelly III

"After completing an initial estate plan, many people decide to add a trust, which is an excellent decision as it can provide extra protection for your family, loved ones, and your legacy after you're gone," said professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "If you own a home or have dependents, setting up a Trust could be one of the best decisions you make in your lifetime. However, figuring out where to start can be challenging."


"Estate Planning can be a complex and intimidating subject for many individuals, and to add to this, life situations can change over time," Attorney Connelly continued. "The thought of planning for the inevitable can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, our team of experts is here to guide you through the process and provide you with the necessary information to make informed decisions. In our upcoming blog posts, we will delve into the diverse types of trusts that can be a part of your plan, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of each. This will enable you to select the trust that best suits your unique circumstances, ensuring you have peace of mind knowing that your assets are protected and your loved ones are cared for. We will begin our blog series with the Spendthrift Trust."


The Spendthrift Trust

Estate planning is an essential process that aims to secure and preserve your legacy by protecting your property and assets. The ultimate goal of this process is to ensure that you can pass on as much of your wealth as possible to your loved ones. However, leaving behind a large inheritance can be a cause for concern, especially if you worry that your beneficiaries might deplete it quickly. If you can relate to this concern, then a spendthrift trust might be the solution you need.


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A well preserved legacy with a trust

"A spendthrift trust is a trust that restricts the beneficiary's access to the assets you leave behind," stated Attorney Connelly. "Instead of receiving the inheritance all at once, the funds are released incrementally, ensuring that your loved ones are protected from poor financial decisions that can lead to wasteful spending. Furthermore, this type of trust also protects against creditors, as the beneficiary does not own the assets held in the trust. Therefore, if a beneficiary encounters financial difficulties, their creditors cannot come after any inheritance still held in the trust."


Spendthrift trusts are a powerful tool that allows you to care for your loved ones' financial needs without worrying about their ability to handle sudden wealth. The trust serves as a safeguard to ensure that your legacy is well-preserved and that your beneficiaries can enjoy the benefits of your hard work without facing undue financial risks.


The Impact of Addictions

"It's safe to say that most of us have someone in our lives who struggles with addiction," stated Attorney Connelly. "Sadly, substance abuse has had a multitude of negative effects on our families and society as a whole. At our firm, we've noticed an increase in people who need to include plans for a family member's addiction in their estate planning, and a spendthrift trust can be of great benefit in such cases."


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A trust can be a great benefit in cases of addiction

The first thought in any trust must be the beneficiary's capability to manage funds responsibly before making any distribution, and this is especially true for those struggling with disorders or in recovery. These individuals may lack the necessary skills and knowledge to handle money properly. It is advisable to assist the beneficiaries in recovering and managing their finances efficiently.


"Any distribution made on their behalf should be done with restrictions and not given to them directly until they can responsibly manage funds," said Attorney Connelly. "This approach can ensure the affected beneficiaries receive the necessary support and resources for recovery and financial stability. This way, we can ensure that our support does not end up causing more harm than good and that we are genuinely helping the person to get back on their feet."


"If you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues, we understand how difficult it can be for you and your family," continued Attorney Connelly. "We are here to offer you a listening ear and provide you with confidential guidance to help you make the best decisions for your loved ones. Our team has extensive experience working with families in similar situations, and we can help you find the best path forward."


What a Spendthrift Trust Does

A spendthrift trust allows you to disperse funds to your beneficiaries incrementally instead of all at once. For example, if you have an estate worth $4 million, you could arrange for dividends to be dispersed every quarter. As the grantor, you need to appoint a trustee who will manage the trust and disperse funds to your beneficiaries as per the spendthrift provisions you have put in place.


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"If you wish to establish a spendthrift trust during your lifetime, you can do so by creating an inter vivos (a Latin phrase meaning while alive or between the living) trust and appointing yourself as the trustee," said Attorney Connelly. "However, it is important to name a successor trustee who will take over after your passing. Spendthrift trusts are a good option for grantors who want to ensure that their estate benefits their loved ones over time instead of all at once."


Benefits of a Spendthrift Trust

If you want to ensure that your loved ones benefit from your estate over time, then a spendthrift trust can be an excellent choice for you. It offers peace of mind by protecting your assets from possible financial mismanagement and has several benefits, including:


  • This trust ensures that your assets are protected from being misused or recklessly spent by your beneficiaries, providing security and peace of mind.

  • Instead of distributing all the assets simultaneously, it distributes them gradually in small increments.

  • This trust safeguards your assets by shielding them from any potential claims made by creditors of the individuals who inherit them. It provides an added layer of protection against any financial risks that may arise in the future.


Breaking the Trust

A spendthrift trust is a type of trust that can be either irrevocable or revocable. If the grantor prefers flexibility, they can establish a revocable trust, which can be modified. But they can opt for an irrevocable trust if they want more protection against taxes and probate. It's worth noting that if the trust is established during the grantor's lifetime, it can bypass probate. This means that the assets in the trust will not have to go through the probate process, which can be lengthy and expensive.


Can the Trust Be Broken?

Spendthrift trusts are generally irrevocable, meaning they cannot be modified or terminated once they are established. However, if you create a spendthrift trust during your lifetime and structure it as a revocable trust, you may be able to modify it in the future if necessary. It's essential to remember that trusts are legally binding and not designed to be broken, so any contests must be taken to the courts.


Developing the Spendthrift Trust

I urge everyone to do thorough research on trusts, and after doing so, you may conclude that a spendthrift trust is the most suitable option for your family," stated Attorney Connelly. "Once you set up a trust, including a spendthrift provision is recommended. This provision ensures that your beneficiaries receive their inheritance in small, manageable amounts over a specific period. Setting up a trust might seem daunting, but the good news is that you don't have to do it alone."


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Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise that you consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider for advice.

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