The answer is, as in so many things in life, it depends. There is no one-size-fits all trust, and sometimes more than one is needed. Factors that need to be considered include:
What are your motivations?
Protecting assets from lawsuits and creditors?
Prevent family disputes?
Avoiding will contests?
Protecting estate from being dissipated by long term care expenses?
Disinheriting a family member?
Providing for and protecting pets?
Providing for and protecting a spouse, child, grandchild?
Planning for the transfer and survival of a family business?
Are any beneficiaries:
On SSI or other government needs-based benefits?
At risk of divorce?
Addicted to drugs or alcohol?
Aliens or non-residents?
Paying spousal support to a former spouse?
Are you married? If yes:
Are all of your children joint children? Or are some his and some hers?
Is either spouse concerned about the other remarrying and leaving his or her inheritance to the new spouse?
Do you have any property with built-in gain that could benefit from a double step up in basis at the second death?
Are either of you engaged in a hazardous occupation?
Have you previously lived in a community property state?
Are either of you a foreign national or non-resident?
Were either of you previously widowed or divorced?
What is the your asset mix and estate size? Where is the bulk of the estate? House? Qualified plan? Rental real estate? Business? Cash? Stocks and bonds? Combination? Any uncommon assets such as intellectual property rights or an airplane? Which assets should go in which trust or strategically remain outside of the trust(s)?
Do you have long term care insurance? Life insurance? Hybrid policy?
Have you recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness or early signs of dementia?
Do you hold a power of appointment under anyone else's estate plan?
Depending on answers to the above, there are follow up questions. If you are not sure how these questions fit into your overall estate plan, call us. This is what we do.
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