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Learning more about trusts

For some New York residents, a trust may be preferable to a will that has to go through probate when an individual passes away. Those who have a trust will name one or more people to oversee its administration. In addition to naming one or more trustees, it may be possible to include a trust protector provision. This gives one person the power to interpret the trust's language if there is a disagreement among trustees.

This person may act as a neutral party in the event that a beneficiary has an issues with how assets are distributed or how the trust is managed in general. The trust protector will review claims made by the beneficiary and determine if the trustee is taking actions consistent with the intent of the trust. Typically, the trust protector does not need to take an active role administering the estate other than being available to resolve disputes.

A trust protector may have narrow authority limited to a few specific issues or broad authority to amend the trust if necessary. The level of authority is determined by the person who creates the document. Trusts may need to be amended to account for tax changes or other significant changes that render it obsolete or otherwise not in accordance with an individual's wishes.

Those who want to learn more about trusts may want to talk to an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to help individuals either create a trust or amend one that currently exists. After creating a trust, it may be a good idea to review it every year or so to make sure that it still meets its owner's needs. This may enable an individual to make changes that may have a better chance of standing up to legal challenges if any occur.

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