Book Review: Living Trusts for Everyone

Many people are getting a handle on their finances with their day to day activities.  More people are saving money, reducing costs, and making sure that every dollar is accounted for.  Can you say that the same things hold true for your money after you die?

Properly managing your estate is the main focus of the book Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates by Ronald Farrington Sharp.

Mr. Sharp is an attorney who has dealt with setting up and managing trusts for many years.  Living Trusts for Everyone is a useful tool in understanding how trusts work, what the comparisons are to other methods of estate handling (such as a will or even doing nothing at all), who benefits from a trust, and some of the things to ensure you look out for when setting up a trust.

The book makes clear very early on that it is not meant to serve as a how-to guide to set up your own trust.  Having a properly setup and maintained trust involves many complexities which are best handled by an attorney.  Setting up a trust costs money and this book will not get you around that, but it can provide checklists, thought starters, and knowledge to ensure the money spent on setting up a trust is money spent wisely.

There are steps on how to make sure that your attorney is properly equipped to handle a trust.  While many attorneys claim to be able to handle a trust, the book illustrates the difference between those who will work with you to set up a trust that works for your situation versus those who will use boilerplate templates, and gives you advice on how to spot the differences.

As the sub-title suggests, a great deal of time is spent outlining the differences between a will and a trust.  While many people think that a will has them covered after they die, the fact is wills often cannot avoid assets having to go through probate, especially if there is property involved.  The book discusses how a trust can be more advantageous in this regard.  This is interesting material that serves to at least give the reader some key points to look for when researching the best method to have their estate handled.

Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about a trust or how they would be set up.  Now that I’ve read the book, I understand the basic elements of a trust, how, if setup properly, they can effectively manage an estate, and key elements to look out for when setting up your trust.  Setting up a trust is something that I would like to do someday, and this book is an excellent primer for anybody thinking about estate planning and who might be wondering if a trust is good for them.

Living Trusts for Everyone is 160 pages long, and is organized into small, concise chapters that walk you through the basic elements of a trust.  It is published by Allworth Publishing and is available in paperback form for a list price of $14.95.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book for review.

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