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How can I protect an inheritance for my loved ones?

Your estate plan is the key to making sure that your assets are distributed as you intend. The way that you handle the estate is something that can have a big impact on how the people you leave assets will be able to use those assets.

Some people might automatically assume that their loved ones are responsible enough to handle the assets, but this might not matter in some cases. There are ways that you can protect the assets you pass down from being claimed by creditors or being taken in other circumstances.

What is the difference between leaving someone something in a will or a trust?

If you leave someone something by listing it in your will, there is a chance that creditors and other parties might try to get those assets. Placing these assets in a trust could prevent creditors from being able to claim those assets. This could be beneficial if your loved one is named in a civil lawsuit because assets held in a trust wouldn't be able to be touched to satisfy the civil award.

What is the benefit of using trusts in an estate plan?

Another benefit of using trusts is that you can stipulate how the assets can be used. This gives you the ability to decide if you want your loved ones to use the assets for a home purchase, education or any other specific purpose. It can also enable you to specify at what age the assets will be distributed.

When you are making your estate plan, think carefully about the different types of trusts that are available. You should choose a type of trust that best protects the assets and your loved ones. For example, a life insurance policy would likely be held best in a life insurance trust.

Source: AARP, "Make Your Estate Creditor-Proof," Lynnette Khalfani-Cox,, accessed June 26, 2017

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