A trust can be a vital component in an estate plan. What they offer:

* Protection against possible incompetency. To protect yourself, you can form a trust and transfer your assets into it. You can be the trustee so you’ll control the trust assets and enjoy the income. A successor trustee will take over if you’re incapacitated.

* Probate avoidance. Assets held in trust also avoid probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In the trust documents, you can state how the trust assets will be distributed at your death.

* Protection for your heirs. At your direction, after your death a trustee can keep trust assets from being squandered or lost in a divorce.

If your heirs are young, you can set up a trust to remain in effect until they are, say, 30 or 35 and can handle their own finances. Another option is to keep the trust in effect for the lives of the beneficiaries.