But, of course, accidents and temptation can take over. "The best choice is a corporate fiduciary, such as a bank," Gaslowitz said. At the very least, advisors should be sure a new client's trustee is bonded. Even people with power of attorney are seldom bonded, and lawyers will often waive the requirement, he said. "If they can't qualify for a bond, they shouldn't be a trustee."
One big trend, explained some industry experts, is grown children bringing in parents to create a trust that will protect their future inheritance. Heirs of baby boomers want to be trustees on irrevocable trusts in order to protect the estate from their parents' future medical and nursing-home bills.
And some want to shut away assets to establish a five-year record to qualify their parents for Medicaid. Medicaid planning has become a specialty in itself, but program officials are on to these efforts and may one day close the loophole. Gaslowitz said he's "not a big fan" of such practices.
"People save their whole lives so they can be taken care of," he said. "And being a bankrupt parent is not the way they want to go out."
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Attorney Edward Kabala, partner with law firm Fox Rothschild, pointed out that even trustees "with the best intentions" might borrow from a trust, intending to replace the funds. "But then the beach house floats away," he said … and there goes the money.
A revocable trust does allow people who own property in multiple states to avoid having to probate a will in each of them. In Pennsylvania, home to certified financial planner Diane Pearson of Legend Financial Advisors, the cost of probate is easier than other states. "If clients have the properties in a revocable trust, then probate can happen here," Pearson said.