A trust is a document that spells out the rules that you want followed for property held in trust for your beneficiaries.

The person who creates the trust is called a grantor, donor or settler. The grantor chooses someone, called a trustee, to manage the trust, and the beneficiary is the person who will receive the assets. In many trusts, the grantor, trustee and beneficiary can be the same person. The trustee can also be a relative, friend, a legal professional or a financial professional.

Because trusts usually avoid probate, your beneficiaries may gain access to these assets more quickly than had they instead been transferred via the probate process. Assets passed outside of probate often save time, court fees, and legal expenses.