Archive | Trust How-To’s

Trust Beneficiaries Have Rights, Too!

A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person, called a “settlor” or “grantor”, gives assets to another trusteeperson or institution, called a “trustee.”   The trustee holds legal title to the assets for another person or institution, called a “beneficiary”.  The rights of a trust beneficiary depend on the type of trust and the type of beneficiary.

While it may feel like it at times, trust beneficiaries are not at the absolute mercy of the trustee.  Depending on the type of trust, trust beneficiaries may have rights to information about the trust as well as the right to ensure the trust is properly managed. Continue Reading →

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Estate Plan Tip: Spendthrift Trusts Protect in a Lawsuit-Crazy World

It used to be that spendthrift trusts were only written for cautious relatives to protect careless or financially-challenged from themselves. Traditionally they would be set up to keep the bulk of the assets out of the hands of the actual beneficiary. Then the trustee would prudently invest and manage the assets, distributing enough to the beneficiary to maintain a certain lifestyle. The goal was to prevent liquidation of the assets at one time, and ensure protection for the estate being handed down to multiple generations.


Trusts of this nature are set up to help keep future benefits safe, unaffected by today’s bad investment or spending spree. Those receiving benefits from the trust have a built in regulator or governor to slow the flow of money.

However, protecting financially unaware from themselves isn’t the only benefit of a spendthrift trust. While this traditional purpose is just as important in today’s consumer-oriented world, you have a new reason to talk to your estate planning attorney about incorporating a trust into your plan:

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The Art of Estate Planning: Protecting the Art Collection

Estate Planning for Art

Estate Planning for Art – Picasso

The world of art is a beautiful and mysterious place, however navigating that world takes a lot more than simple good taste. Most of us buy what we like on a piece-by-piece basis, but what makes someone a collector is the talent he or she demonstrates in selecting and grouping their art. This process takes almost as much creativity as the art itself, and requires just as much attention.

From a trust and estate planning point of view, a quality art collection becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and can ultimately set the trend for future generations of art collectors. An admired collection may become much more than a personal passion – it can ultimately be an important part of a family’s legacy with all the pleasures and pains included.

One example we like at Oakstone Law is the Elkins family and the recent federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case of Estate of Elkins v. Commissioner. If you are an art lover or know someone who is, pay close attention to how this unfolds:

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Trusts and Estates: 7 Steps to Designing the Perfect Trust and Estate Plan – Part 6 & 7

Welcome back and congratulations for sticking with us – this is the final post in our four-part series on Designing the Perfect Trust and Estate Plan.  If you missed either of the previous posts or just want a refresher:

Part 1 – Steps 1 & 2

Part 2 – Steps 3 & 4

Part 3 – Step 5

In essence we have saved the best for last – in this post we bring the series to a close by looking at the single most important thing you can do to help your trustee and your family: providing trustee guidance.


Step 6 –  Provide Guidance

When you are creating your perfect trust and estate plan, you will want to pay careful attention to the instructions you provide to your trustee.  By clearly stating your intent, you can minimize the potential for any conflicts or misunderstandings later. Continue Reading →

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Trusts and Estates: 7 Steps to Designing the Perfect Trust and Estate Plan- Part 5

Welcome back – this is the third in a series of four posts so if you missed either of the previous posts or just want a refresher:

Click here for Part 1 (steps 1 & 2).

Click Here for Part 2 (steps 3 & 4).

The seven steps in this series will guide you through the process of building a working outline for a thoughtful and successful trust document.

In Step 1, we started with Why – figuring out your main purpose or motivation for including one or more trusts in your estate plan. In Step 2, we worked on the Who – listing and describing the people (and possibly charities) your trust will benefit. In Step 3, we talked about the frequency, amounts and types of distributions from the trust to your beneficiaries. In Step 4, we looked at building some much needed flexibility into your trust document, which could be in effect for hundreds of years.

And now . . .

Step 5 – Select Your Trustees

Selecting your trustee is an important step

Selecting your trustee is an important step

This step is so important that we have devoted the entire post to it.  The trustee is the person (or company) whom you designate to carry out your wishes by following the trust agreement.  It is one of the most challenging steps we all face, understandably so.  Hopefully, this information will make it easier.
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Oakstone Law
1415 Panther Lane, Suite 439
Naples, Florida 34109
Tel: 239.206.3454