If you’re familiar with any kind of trust, it’s probably the revocable living trust, which is a common element of many estate plans. This kind of trust lets your survivors avoid costly probate court proceedings after your death.
But lawyers have come up with many, many different kinds of trusts that accomplish other goals. There are trusts that let your family avoid estate tax, manage property left to young children, or keep money out of the hands of an adult who has a disability or is simply irresponsible with money.
Like probate-avoidance trusts, some of these other kinds of trusts are created while you’re alive. For some other trusts, you set up the paperwork while you’re alive, but the trusts don’t spring into existence until after your death.
Most of these trusts are considerably more complicated than a simple probate-avoidance living trust. You’ll probably want to consult a lawyer to see how they might fit into your family’s estate plan and to help draw up the documents you need.