FAQs About Trusts

To Trust Or Not To Trust

by Rania Combs

Last Christmas, the only thing on my older children’s Christmas list was a laptop computer. As they have gotten older, school assignments have increasingly required access to one. Teachers post assignments online. Many assignments are done online, or require essays that need to be typed.

So, when my dad asked what my children wanted for Christmas, I mentioned the laptop. “Great,” he said. “Just get them what they want, and I’ll pay for it.” They chose their computer, all the while knowing that it was a gift from their Grandpapa.

It brought my dad great pleasure knowing that he had been able to fund the purchase of something they really wanted and needed. And each time my children use their computers, they think of my dad’s thoughtful gift.

Whether you’ve accumulated a lot of wealth or a little in your lifetime, chances are you have some specific ideas about how you would like those assets to be used by family members when you die. Perhaps you’d like the money your family members inherit to fund a dream family vacation, part of a grandchild’s college education, or a down payment on a house.

Unfortunately, without specific guidance, money left outright will likely not be used the way you would have wanted. It will likely be added to a general bank account to be used on general family expenses. As the months or years go by, the funds may dwindle away, with little to show for it.

Things could be different if the assets were left in trust with specific guidelines on how the assets should be used. Trusts aren’t just for the wealthy. They don’t have to be restrictive, and you can even name your beneficiary as the trustee of the trust, giving them the ability to access the funds for the purposes you’ve intended.

Regardless of whether the amount is large or small, it would allow your loved ones to take that trip, pay a year’s worth of tuition, or pay down the balance of their house, realizing all the while that it was your generosity made it all possible.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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  1. Ed Mat

    April 18, 2017 at 10:38am

    I have separate assets. And I have community assets with my wife. My wife and I would like to set up a couple’s revocable trust. I don’t want to commingle my separate assets with my wife. What should I do?

    1. Rania Combs

      April 21, 2017 at 9:52am

      It is possible to put all separate property in a separate trust rather than a joint trust, and creating a joint trust for community assets. If using a joint trust, provisions can be added clarifying that all separate property transferred to the joint trust retains its character as separate property.