Estate planning is about more than just planning for the future. Depending on your situation, there are financial vehicles that can provide significant savings and protections now as well.

A revocable living trust won't protect you against creditors or give you any tax benefits, but it will make the transfer of property much smoother after death and can be changed at any time. Irrevocable living trusts, on the other hand, provide not only protection against creditors and tax benefits, but depending on whether it is an asset protection trust, dynasty trust, charitable remainder trust, or irrevocable life insurance trust, can also help provide for family members for many generations, provide an income for you and contribute to charitable organizations. Establishing a foundation can give you some of those same benefits but with more control and a longer-lasting legacy.

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Revocable Living Trusts

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement through which you use a third party to hold and manage assets on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. A revocable living trust is the simplest and most common type of trust.

A revocable living trust provides rules for how your assets (the trust assets) are to be distributed when you pass away.


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Irrevocable Living Trusts

Establishing a trust is one of the easiest and most powerful ways for you to make sure you have control over the distribution of your assets, even after death.

Put simply, a trust is a way to control property—who owns and manages it, and how it is handled and distributed. A trust is like a vault with a combination you create. You can put property inside it, and once it's there, you've got more control and peace of mind.


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Asset Protection Trusts

The asset protection trust is one of the most powerful manifestations of an irrevocable trust. Unlike other irrevocable trusts, though, the asset protection trust is set up to benefit the trust's creator (called a self-settled trust). In short, an asset protection trust is a way for someone to relinquish legal ownership of assets—and thereby shield themselves from creditors, who can only reach assets of the debtor—but still benefit from the assets.


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Charitable Remainder Trusts

Charitable remainder trusts are a kind of irrevocable trust. Like any other irrevocable trust, it is an instrument you can fund, and once you put assets in it, you cannot take them back or change the terms of the trust. However, unlike most other irrevocable trusts, a charitable remainder trust is set up to benefit you and your choice of charity(ies).


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Dynasty Trusts

A dynasty trust is a form of irrevocable trust that allows wealth to be kept in a single family over several generations without having to pay taxes that would otherwise be levied.

The two major benefits of a dynasty trust are the length of its term and the tax benefits. 


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Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

An irrevocable life insurance trust is simply an irrevocable trust designed to hold life insurance policy(ies) of the grantor. Because life insurance is one of the most common assets in an irrevocable trust, irrevocable trusts with life insurance policies have their own name, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, or ILITs.


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Create a Foundation

Establishing a foundation can be a good way for you to use your wealth to create a legacy of philanthropy. You can do some good in the world, be recognized for it, and enjoy tax savings. A private foundation is one manifestation of tax-exempt charitable organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (the other is a public charity).