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A trust is an arrangement based on—you guessed it—trust. The creator of the trust (variously called the trustor, settlor, or grantor – or even, sometimes, “creator”) conveys property to a third party (the trustee) to hold for the benefit of one or more other people (the beneficiaries). Central to the arrangement is that the trustor trusts the person named as trustee. The trust provides the terms the trustee must follow, which usually are rules about holding the property and benefiting the beneficiaries.

Trusts are vehicles that allow individuals to create flexible arrangements relating to the management of property. A Trust can be created for almost any purpose imaginable. In estate planning, the most common trust is a “revocable trust,” also referred to as a “living trust” or “inter vivos trust.” A revocable trust does everything a will does, and then some. Like a will, a trust provides direction regarding how assets are to be distributed a trustor’s death and names someone to administer the estate. Naming the trustee is a key decision; many name family members, but if that is not appropriate or possible, a private fiduciary (like Fleming & Curti) may be another option.

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Unlike a will, a trust provides for management of financial affairs during the trustor’s lifetime. Usually, the trustor serves as her own trustee, at least initially. If she becomes unable to manage the trust assets, a successor trustee steps in to act. There can be alternate arrangements where the trustor is able to continue managing the trust with the assistance of a co-trustee. A trust helps plan for incapacity and helps avoid a conservatorship proceeding in court.

At the trustor’s death, a trust is not subject to probate. The administration of a trust is shared only with beneficiaries and does not involve court oversight. These are the primary reasons most people choose to incorporate a trust into their estate plans.

A revocable trust functions best when it is properly “funded.” Most of the trustor’s assets should be transferred to the name of the trust or pay to the trust on death of the trustor (by, for instance, beneficiary designations). Most trusts are revocable and amendable by the trustor during their lifetime.

A trust can and should be customized to address specific needs of the trustor’s circumstances. A trust may be structured to avoid or minimize estate tax, prevent a surviving spouse from disinheriting children, preserve public benefits for beneficiaries with disabilities, and set up management of inheritances for beneficiaries with challenges such as addiction, divorce, or financial difficulties.

A trust also may be created in a will, and those trusts are labeled “testamentary.” While a testamentary trust will not avoid probate (since the will must be admitted to probate to set up the trust), it nonetheless can be a valuable estate planning tool. Testamentary trusts are especially useful for providing for the continuing care of minor children.

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There are so many different options to consider when either preparing for a transfer of power or executing a financial plan, we’re here to make that process as easy to understand as possible. Come by our office for a cup of coffee, meet our dogs and lets chat about what we can do for you and your family.
Fleming & Curti, PLC was very helpful as both legal counsel for our elderly Aunt’s Trust and as Health Care Power of Attorney. Both Legal Counsel and Case Worker’s were transparent and responsive to family inquiries.

- Chris T


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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.