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How do I set up a real estate trust?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 06, 2013
A fellow caregiver asked...
How do I set up a real estate trust?

Caring.com User - Barbara Kate Repa
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Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in...
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First, let's be clear as possible about semantics, which have a funny way of changing the legal meaning of one thing to some completely different and sometimes unexpected animal. See also:
How should my father balance estate planning, tax planning, and Medicaid look back rules?

A real estate investment trust, or REIT, is a tax designation for a corporation investing in real estate aimed at reducing or eliminating corporate income taxes. To get the tax advantage, REITs must distribute 90% of their income, which may be taxable to the investors. It is generally wise to hire an experienced lawyer to help set up a REIT, since such a trust may have repercussions for business plans and tax liability that are difficult to predict.

But I'm guessing that your question concerns something simpler: perhaps putting your parents' home or other real estate in a trust, such as a living trust, that will ensure that the title to it passes directly to the named beneficiaries when the person who made the trust dies. This is often a wise addition to a complete estate plan putting final affairs in order, as living trusts pass property automatically at death -- unlike wills, which usually must be processed through a probate curt, adding time and expense to the procedure.

Living trusts are not particularly difficult to set up. You can hire a lawyer for help -- or do it yourself, with the help of reputable books or software, if you are willing to do a bit of paperwork for the cause.


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