Thomas D White

To Trust or Not to Trust

To Trust or Not to Trust, That is the Question…

Judges are sheltered creatures. Fed only what the lawyers bring to them in the Courtroom. When I retired as a Judge in 2010 and started a law practice, one of the things I noticed had changed since I became a Judge in 1989, was how different the plat books looked.

Instead of a farm being owned by the eldest generation, I saw plat maps sprinkled with the names of family trusts. Evidently, a lot of my neighbors were taking advantages of holding family farms in trusts. And then I remembered and began to experience in my practice some of the difficulties encountered when trusts don’t work.

Trusts, and there are many kinds, are tools. When a family considers using a trust to plan for their lives, it is important to use the right tool for your situation. If you don’t, there can be real trouble.

Have you ever heard of a neighbor who went to a hotel to listen to a presentation on family trusts? This process sometimes results in the family’s square peg being fit into the round hole of a form trust. The fit is often not a good one.

These mass trust makers, called “trust mills” in the legal community, sometimes leave you with a document that you do not understand and therefore do not correctly handle. And an incorrectly handled trust is worse than no trust at all.

It is my philosophy that a trust, or any other legal tool, should be fashioned to meet a client’s individual needs. Only when the tool fits the job can we accomplish the true end of wise planning: peace.

Yes, peace. The right planning tools may avoid taxes, probate and future uncertainties, but the real goal is peace; peace of mind and peace as our hard earned property is passed between generations.

If you are considering a trust for your family, or have one that you have questions about, sit down and spend a few minutes with an attorney you can trust with your trust.

Thomas D. White, Esq

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