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Estate planning is typically not high on people's lists of favorite things to do. However, creating a will or setting up a trust is important in order to protect a Maryland resident's assets following death. Trusts, in particular, are legal documents that control the management of assets, as well the transfer of those assets.

Trustees are parties who have control over the assets in trusts and assume responsibility for the operations of the trusts. People may select either professional trustees or non-professional trustees. Professional trustees include trust management companies of various sizes, including banks. A private individual who is trained, as well as licensed, to act as a trustee is also an example of a professional trustee.

Non-professional trustees include friends or family members. People who choose non-professionals would be wise to ensure that these individuals are responsible and trustworthy and are able to work with professionals, such as appraisers, real estate agents, tax preparers and attorneys. It is also important to make sure that non-professional trustees are able to communicate with the trusts' beneficiaries effectively and fairly, because, if these trustees do not have the beneficiaries' cooperation and confidence, problems might arise.

With trusts, people can easily preserve their assets. They can also avoid the costly, lengthy probate process -- a legal process that could take several months before assets get to the intended beneficiaries -- and even reduce taxes. An applied understanding of the law may help a person in Maryland to effectively set up a trust in a manner that will best accomplish his or her goals in the event of his or her death.

Source: lakeconews.com, "Estate Planning: Trustees, special trustees and trust protectors", Dennis Fordham, Jan. 9, 2016

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