By: Samantha K. Wolfe, Esquire, LL.M. in Taxation
Of course, people are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers instead of their conscience be their guides. - Will Rogers, American Cowboy and Humorist
People are uncomfortable around attorneys. Recently, I attended a party and when I was introduced to some fellow partygoers and they asked my occupation, I said “Oh, I’m an attorney. But, don’t worry, not a real one.” The fact is, I am an attorney. A real one. No, I do not often appear in a courtroom, but I attended law school. I took the bar exam to become licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. I love my job. I love working with clients. I wish I could go back and amend my introduction; I would say, “Oh, I’m an attorney who helps clients achieve their estate planning goals for future generations.” I am on the same team as my clients. We want to achieve the same goal.
The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, LLC is a law firm that focuses on estate planning, asset protection planning, supplemental needs planning, long-term care pre-planning, estate administration, and business succession planning. We use the law for good; to help our clients design the best estate plan for them as individuals. A lot of what we do revolves around trusts. We love trusts, and are comfortable, and confident, with trusts. Trusts can be an essential tool for estate planning and asset protection planning. Part of our job as a law firm is to review trusts that clients may have executed prior to engaging our law firm to determine if the trust is needed, and if so, whether there are any changes needed to be made to the trust to plan for the second half of life. Occasionally, a client will come to our office with a testamentary trust created through the provisions of their Last Will and Testament.
A testamentary trust is one that is created through a Last Will and Testament. It provides for the distribution of all or part of the estate. Because a testamentary trust is created upon death, the person cannot fund the testamentary trust during life. On the other hand, an inter vivos trust is one that is created by someone during his or her life. Assets can be transferred to an inter vivos trust during life or upon death. For example, a Last Will and Testament can include a provision that certain assets pay to an inter vivos trust.
Our office prefers using an inter vivos trust instead of a testamentary trust. Here are nine things to know about the difference between testamentary trusts and inter vivos trusts:
Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.
Inter vivos trusts and testamentary trusts are both tools used for estate planning purposes. There are situations that may be better served by utilizing an inter vivos trust instead of establishing a trust through your Last Will and Testament. Please make sure to discuss with your legal professional the goals you hope to accomplish so that the professional can advise you on which type of trust is best suited for your needs. If an inter vivos trust is the recommended technique, do not be overwhelmed by the fact that the trust exists during your life or may be a lengthy document. When you have a trusted legal professional as part of your team, this professional can advise you every step of the way.