Trusts and Estates Attorney Kerri Castellini discusses how she develops trust with her clients.
I enjoy working together with my clients to protect their assets for future generations. I like that I am assisting families to tackle difficult decisions, generally, well before any of those decisions will need to be enacted.
The client and the client’s needs really drive the process of creating a trust. There are trusts that can be created for a myriad of issues. Most commonly they are created to leave assets to minor children, adult children, or adults that have some disability. Trusts can also be used to take full advantage of an individual’s estate tax exemption. Trusts may be used to plan for your own incapacity. Trusts can also be a great tool to effect charitable giving. How a trust or several trusts fit into an overall estate plan can be a complex question. It is best to speak to an attorney to advise you on the need for trusts in your estate plan.
The Role of An Attorney When Creating Trusts
When preparing a trust, the role of an attorney is to determine whether a trust is needed, how it can be used efficiently, or if it comports with the overall estate plan. An attorney will also advise you how to fund the trust, and which assets are good candidates to fund a trust. On the administration side, the role of the attorney is to advise the Trustee of his or her fiduciary duties and to assist the Trustee with understanding the provisions of the trust.
While the use of trusts in your planning may be complicated, it is important to understand how they are used and how to administer them correctly. For example, there are sometimes individuals who create a trust without understanding what the trust actually does. The trust is never actually funded properly, leaving it to become merely a document that does not govern any assets. The process of establishing a trust, whether during a lifetime or at death, can be very complex. That is why it is important to consult with an estate planning attorney who can determine whether a trust, or several trusts, should be part your estate plan.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the use of trusts in an estate plan. Overcoming the misinformation can sometimes be challenging. Explaining to a client how a trust will be used, when it may come into effect, and what the functions and parameters of the trust will be can sometimes be difficult. Often times, the terminology and the concepts will be unfamiliar to the client, and my job as an attorney is to translate the legal concepts into terms they can understand.
Our Approach to Planning Your Trusts
My goal is not just that a client wishes are met, but that the client also understands their plan as best as possible. As I comb through the client’s plan, I consider both of those factors and then I add my experience in tax law and my understanding of the way estates are probated. What makes my approach a little bit different is that I am not merely putting together a document that may roughly do the job the client needs. I really dive into the intricacies of things like how assets are owned or the family dynamics. Getting into these details allows me to issue-spot and problem-solve before problems arise that are hard to cure.