Don’t you have to have a taxable estate before you need a trust?
No. Trusts do not avoid estate tax. Neither do wills. Proper planning avoids estate tax. However, assets held in trust do avoid probate. If the fair market value of your assets amount to more than $75,000 of personal property and/or more than $200,000 in real property you should consider a trust. In addition, if you own real property in more than one state you should consider a trust; without it your estate will have to go through probate in each state in which you own real property (that would included deeded time-share properties).
What happens then to the assets in my trust after my death?
When your trust no longer has you as its beneficiary, your successor trustee, whom you have appointed, will distribute the assets of your trust according to your wishes. Your successor trustee is not required to file anything with the court and does not have to get an attorney involved in the process of administering your trust.
Are there other benefits to having a trust?
Yes. Your trust can provide you with protections in the event of your incapacity, whether physical disability or mental incompetency. Without a trust, someone would have to apply to the court to be your legal guardian or conservator. This is often referred to as a living probate because it is handled through the court’s probate department and probate judges.