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Trusts funds aren't just for Massachusetts' elite

We hear the term "trust fund baby" and think of children who attend boarding schools, go on to Ivy League colleges and summer in the Hamptons or Europe in between.

That is far from true. You don't have to be among the elite in Massachusetts to start a trust fund for your heirs.

A trust fund is a collection of your holdings – stocks, real estate, cash, art or even a small business – to be distributed after death. It is meant not just for the rich but for anyone who has assets and a specific wish of how to assign them one day.

A trust is different from a will. While a will expresses your wishes upon your death, those wishes can be contested. A trust fund is a rock-solid way to make sure those wishes are followed.

Additionally, a trust fund has a number of benefits, such as tax advantages, keeping assets safe and reducing taxes. In a trust, for example, you can specify that a grandchild's inheritance is used for a specific purpose, such as college tuition.

A trust also can be formed for minors, with funds released to them at certain times or ages as they grow up to make sure they don't spend it all at once. Trusts also can be set up for children with special needs to work in conjunction with their government benefits.

There are many kinds of trusts, such as life insurance trusts, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts or charitable trusts.

Forming a trust is more complicated than writing a will. More people need to be involved, such as a banker, investment adviser and attorney. Your estate planning attorney can explain the steps you need to take, show you the trust options to best meet your needs and ultimately assist in the transfer of your assets to the fund once it is legally set up.

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