A: As with many seemingly simple estate planning questions, the answer is far from simple. There are many different types of trusts and the trust that is best for you depends on your particular situation and your goals.
For example, if you have a child with disabilities, you will probably need to create a Supplemental Needs Trust, sometimes called a Special Needs Trust, to protect your child’s needs-based governmental benefits. A Supplemental Needs Trust can be a ‘third-party’ trust or a ‘first-party’ trust, and you may need both. A third-party Supplemental Needs Trust can be revocable or irrevocable. The type of Supplemental Needs Trust that is best for you will depend on your circumstances.
If you want to reduce estate taxes payable at your death, there are a number of different types of trusts that may be suitable depending on your circumstances. Some examples include: credit shelter trusts for married couples, an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT), a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT), a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT), or a gift trust, to name a few.
If your goal is to preserve assets from being spent down on future long-term care costs, an irrevocable income only Trust may be appropriate, or maybe a so-called ‘children’s trust’ would be better.
Perhaps you want to avoid probate at your death. A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust for that purpose. Such a Trust is also likely to be an appropriate part of an estate plan for people who have young children or even young adult children.
There are thousands of books with hundreds of pages written about the various types of Trusts that can be used to achieve estate planning goals. The above are just a few examples of these. The best way to determine which type of trust is best for you is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your unique situation and your particular goals.