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Can you make a trust flexible?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Estate Planning |

If you want your heirs to have the ultimate amount of flexibility with the assets that you leave them, you could detail instructions for their distribution in your will. For example, maybe you have $100,000 to leave to one of your heirs. You could simply say that it should be transferred to them upon your passing, and they can use it as they wish.

If you use a trust, you may restrict that flexibility if you dictate how the money is going to be used. For example, an educational trust could restrict spending to college tuition and similar costs. An age-based trust could say that the person cannot inherit their money until they turn 25. There are many ways to set up trust restrictions, if that is something that you desire to do. But what if you want the benefits of a trust with greater flexibility than many trust types afford?

Using a discretionary trust

One option that is available involves setting up a discretionary trust, rather than using a trust that has a specific purpose. You will end up giving your trustee the power to use their own discretion in making decisions about what you would have wanted.

For example, you could tell the trustee that you would like the money to be used for educational purposes, if possible, but that they can decide to allow it for other purposes that seem necessary. If your heir just goes to college at 18 like many people do, the money may be spent exactly how you wanted. But if they have started their own business, joined the military or decided not to go to college for some other reason, then the trustee can help them spend the money in other ways that could be concretely beneficial for their life.

If you do set up a trust, it’s very important to know how to do it properly so that you can honor your goals and the best interests of your heirs. Take the time to look into all of your legal options before committing to any particular strategy.


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