Shape Your Future with Personalized Trust Planning

Here at Vail Gardner Law, we get that thinking about the future can be overwhelming.

That’s why we’re all about making trust planning approachable, guiding you through the ins and outs of creating a trust that fits your life and your dreams for those you care about.

Trusts aren’t just legal documents; they’re pathways to ensure your wishes are carried out, your family’s future is secure, and your legacy lives on, just the way you envision.

From safeguarding your children’s inheritance to supporting a family member with special needs, or simply keeping your affairs private and avoiding probate, our team is dedicated to finding the right solutions for you. We’re here in North Carolina, ready to listen, understand, and tailor a trust plan that aligns perfectly with your unique situation and goals.

Ready to take that first step? Reach out to us today for a chat.

Let Vail Gardner Law be your partner in navigating trust planning, making the process clear, straightforward, and tailored to you. It’s time to secure your future with confidence and peace of mind, knowing you’ve got a plan in place that truly reflects your wishes.

Let’s build your legacy together.


What are the different types of trusts, and which one is right for me?

In North Carolina, understanding the different types of trusts and determining which one is right for you depends on your specific estate planning goals, financial situation, and family circumstances. Here’s a brief overview of the common types of trusts used in North Carolina:

1. Revocable Living Trusts: These are created during your lifetime and can be changed or revoked as your circumstances or wishes change. They allow you to maintain control over the trust assets while you’re alive, with the assets passing to your designated beneficiaries upon your death, avoiding probate.

2. Irrevocable Trusts: Once established, these cannot be easily changed or revoked. They can provide benefits such as asset protection from creditors and reduced estate taxes but require you to give up control over the assets placed in the trust.

3. Special Needs Trusts: Designed to benefit individuals with disabilities, these trusts can help manage assets for the beneficiary without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

4. Charitable Trusts: These are established to provide financial support to charitable organizations. They can be structured to offer tax benefits to the donor while also contributing to a charitable cause.

5. Testamentary Trusts: Created as part of your will, these trusts come into effect upon your death. They can be used to manage assets for beneficiaries who are minors, financially irresponsible, or who may benefit from having assets distributed over time rather than in a lump sum.

6. Marital or “A-B” Trusts: Used by married couples to minimize estate taxes, these trusts can help maximize the estate tax exemption for each spouse.

Choosing the right trust involves considering factors like the need for control over assets, tax implications, protection from creditors, and the specific needs of your beneficiaries.

Consulting with us a Vail Gardner Law can provide you with tailored advice and guidance on selecting the most appropriate trust for your situation, ensuring your estate planning objectives are met efficiently and effectively.

How does a trust avoid probate?

In North Carolina, a trust can avoid the probate process, which is one of its most appealing features for many individuals planning their estates.

Probate is a court-supervised process involving the following steps:

  • Authenticating a deceased person’s will
  • Inventorying their assets
  • Paying debts and taxes
  • Distributing the remaining estate to the designated beneficiaries

This process can be time-consuming, costly, and public, which is why many choose to use trusts.

When you establish a trust and transfer assets into it, those assets are legally owned by the trust, not by you personally. Upon your death, the assets held in the trust are controlled by the terms you set forth in the trust document.

Since these assets are not considered part of your personal estate at the time of your death, they do not go through probate. Instead, the successor trustee you’ve appointed manages and distributes these assets directly to your named beneficiaries according to your instructions, bypassing the probate court.

This direct transfer mechanism not only saves time and money but also maintains privacy regarding the distribution of your assets. The trust document does not become a public record like a will, so the details of your estate remain private.

Additionally, because the trust can take effect during your lifetime (in the case of a living trust), it can also provide a plan for managing your affairs should you become incapacitated, further avoiding the need for court intervention.

Working with us at Vail Gardner Law helps ensure that a trust is properly set up and funded with your assets. Any assets not titled in the name of the trust at the time of your death may still be subject to probate.

Can I change or revoke my trust once it's been established?

In North Carolina, whether you can change or revoke a trust once it’s been established depends on the type of trust you’ve created:

1. Revocable Trusts: These trusts are designed to be flexible and can be changed or revoked entirely by the grantor (the person who created the trust) at any time during their lifetime, as long as they are mentally competent.

This flexibility allows the grantor to adjust the trust’s provisions, add or remove assets, change beneficiaries, or even terminate the trust if their circumstances or estate planning goals change.

Living Trusts fall into this category.

2. Irrevocable Trusts: Once established, irrevocable trusts generally cannot be changed or revoked by the grantor. The main reason for this rigidity is to provide certain benefits, such as asset protection from creditors and reduction of estate taxes, which require the grantor to relinquish control over the assets placed into the trust.

However, under certain conditions and with the agreement of all beneficiaries, modifications or termination of an irrevocable trust may be possible through court approval or as allowed by specific provisions within the trust document itself.

It’s crucial for anyone considering establishing a trust in North Carolina to understand the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts, including the level of control they offer and the legal implications of each.

Deciding which type of trust best suits your needs is a decision that should be made with careful consideration and guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney. 

At Vail Gardner Law, we provide advice tailored to your specific situation and help ensure that your trust is set up in a way that meets your estate planning goals.

How do trusts protect privacy?<br />

Trusts protect your privacy by allowing the transfer of assets to beneficiaries outside the public probate process. When you create a trust, you transfer ownership of your assets to the trust, managed by a trustee for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries.

Unlike a will, which must go through probate—a public court process where your assets, debts, and the details of their distribution are made public record—a trust operates privately.

Since the trust’s terms, assets, and beneficiary information do not go through probate, they are not filed with the court and do not become a matter of public record.

This means the details of your estate, including what you owned and who you left it to, remain private, known only to those involved in the trust.

This privacy can be especially important for individuals who wish to keep their financial affairs confidential and out of the public eye.

Additionally, because the trust can provide for the distribution of assets directly to beneficiaries without court intervention, it allows for a more discreet and immediate transfer of assets, further protecting your family’s privacy during a potentially difficult time.

Talk with us at Vail Gardner Law to find out more about how it all works. We’re happy to answer any questions or address any concerns.


How can a trust help my grown children?

A trust can significantly benefit your grown children by offering asset protection in several key ways:

1. Protection from Creditors: Assets held in a trust, particularly those in irrevocable trusts, are generally not accessible to your children’s creditors. This means that in the event of financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy or lawsuits, the assets in the trust are protected and cannot be claimed by creditors, ensuring that the wealth you’ve earmarked for your children remains secure.

2. Divorce Protection: Trust assets can also be protected from divorce settlements. By specifying that the trust assets are for the benefit of your children and not their spouses, you can ensure that these assets remain with your children in the event of a divorce, rather than being divided as marital property.

3. Controlled Distribution: A trust allows you to control the distribution of assets to your children, which can be particularly beneficial if you are concerned about their

  • Spending habits
  • Addiction issues
  • Financial management skills
  • Vulnerability to outside influences

You can specify the conditions under which grown children may access assets. Conditions can include:

  • Reaching a certain age
  • Achieving specific milestones (like graduating from college)
  • Stipulations related to lifestyle choices

4. Tax Advantages: Certain types of trusts can provide tax benefits, potentially reducing the amount of estate tax that your children would have to pay upon inheriting the assets. This can result in a larger inheritance being preserved for their benefit.

5. Estate Planning and Succession: Trusts can be an essential tool in estate planning and succession, ensuring a smooth transition of assets across generations without the delays and costs associated with probate. This can be particularly advantageous in maintaining family businesses or property within the family.

6. Special Needs Consideration: If any of your grown children have special needs, a special needs trust can be established to provide for their care and living expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance programs.

By setting up a trust, you can offer your grown children a layer of financial security and stability, protecting the assets you leave them from a range of potential threats while also guiding them toward responsible financial stewardship.

Get in touch with us at Vail Gardner Law with any questions about trusts. We’re happy to discuss your concerns in depth.

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Durham, NC 27705
Telephone: (919) 246-6676

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