Despite the name, a Family Wealth Trust is a type of trust that is commonly used by the average person as part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you are considering the inclusion of a Family Wealth Trust, or FWT, in your estate plan you will need to make a number of decisions regarding the trust. One of the most important decisions you will need to make is who should you designate as successor trustee for your family wealth trust. Ultimately, only you can make the decision after consulting with your Illinois estate planning attorney. A better understanding of why the appointment is important, however, may help you make your decision.
A Family Wealth Trust is simply a revocable living trust into which you can transfer the majority of your valuable and/or important assets. People typically transfer their home, vehicles, bank accounts, securities, and investment accounts in a FWT. While a FWT can serve a number of purposes in your estate plan, incapacity planning is a common reason for creating and including a FWT trust in your estate plan.
As an incapacity planning tool a Family Wealth Trust works like this:
You create the FWT and name yourself as trustee of the trust. You then name the person whom you would want to have control over your assets in the event you were unable to retain control as the successor trustee. You then transfer all important assets of yours into the trust. You manage and invest those assets as long as you are able to do so, adding and removing assets as necessary. In the event of your sudden incapacity, control over the trust, and therefore the trust assets, automatically transfers to the successor trustee.
In the absence of a mechanism by which someone is able to step in and take control of your assets. A loved one would have to petition a court for the legal right to take control of any of those assets.
Knowing this, your choice of a successor trustee should be someone whom you would be comfortable with if they were controlling all your most important assets. For most people this is a spouse, adult child, parent or trusted advisor; however, just like all other decisions in your trust agreement, you are ultimately responsible for making the decision. Given the importance of this particular decision though it only makes sense to discuss your options with your Illinois estate planning attorney before making the final decision.
If you have additional questions or concerns about a Family Wealth Trust, or your Illinois estate plan in general, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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