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— by Dana Heyde

As the end of the year draws near, I always reflect on the big events that shaped the last twelve months of my life. Some of life’s significant events may trigger the need for a trust or an amendment to an existing trust.

You may need a trust if you did any of the following in 2015:

You Started A Business: Whether you started a business or purchased one, a business is an asset. If the value of your business is greater than $150,000, a trust is the only way to avoid the lengthy probate process upon your death. The best way to designate who will receive your business upon your death is by placing your ownership interest in trust.

You Bought A Home: If the value of your home is above $150,000, a trust will help to eliminate paying taxes upon your death. Placing real property in a trust acts to fund the trust and ensures the property will be given to the beneficiaries you specify in your trust.

You Had A Baby: If you welcomed a bundle of joy in 2015, a trust is the only way to ensure that any life insurance or other monetary gift is held in trust for your child and administered by a trustee of your choice. A trust allows you to place limits on financial distributions made to a child and to designate that the funds are to be used solely for the child’s health, education, maintenance, and support to ensure that the money inherited is not wasted. Within a trust, you can also state your wishes regarding who you want to be your child’s guardian upon your death.

You Filed For Divorce: If you finalized a divorce, you probably need to make changes to your existing trust to revise the beneficiaries and update the property contained in the trust. It is important to make sure that all trust documents are up to date and accurate.

Even if you did not experience a significant event this year, there are constant changes to tax laws that impact existing trusts. If you created a trust several years ago and haven’t updated it, now is a good time to consult with an estate planning attorney to make sure that you are utilizing all applicable codes to protect your assets.

DANA_CKLH_7B7A3328 -favDana Heyde is a Partner at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde in Orange, where the firm has had a continuing presence in the community for over twenty-five years. CKLH focuses on Estate Planning and Probate litigation. CKLH works with each client to understand their objectives and create a living trust that is appropriate for their particular circumstances. CKLH would be honored to help you plan your future.