Sacramento readers can learn from Whitney Houston's use of a trust

Some Sacramento readers are probably still mourning the premature death of Whitney Houston, who passed away Feb. 11, just before the Grammy Awards, at age 48.

Recently, Houston's will was released. In it, she leaves all her property -- furniture, money, clothing, jewelry and cars -- will go to her only child, 19-year-old Bobbi Kristina.

All the money will be placed into a trust until Bobbi Kristina turns 21. At that time, she will have access to some of the money and more will be made available to her when she turns 25. The balance will be an option when Bobbi Kristina turns 30.

This trust arrangement is becoming something of a trend in estate planning. In the past, trusts were made available to their beneficiaries at 18 or 21. However, it eventually became clear that in many cases, it was not a good idea to give so much money to someone who is so young. That is why many people have begun to stagger the disbursements or else make the trust funds available when the recipient is older, like 25 or 30.

If you have been thinking about placing property in a trust, you will want to make sure you and your estate planning attorney discuss when might be a good time to make the property available to its recipient or recipients and how you would like those disbursements to be made. Trusts may be more flexible than you think and an estate planning attorney may be able to help you decide which option is best for you.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Whitney Houston's will: Bobbi Kristina is the heiress," Christie D'Zurilla, March 7, 2012

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