In the event of your incapacity, it’s crucial that you begin estate planning to set processes and prepare documents such as a last will and testament or revocable living trust to safeguard your assets. Congress determined that due to the importance and benefits estate planning has for Americans and their families, it was necessary to bring awareness to the cause. Thus, since 2008, the third week of October has been recognized as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. While the onset of COVID-19 did encourage a majority of us to begin thinking about the future, many American families are still severely lacking an effective estate plan with just one-third of adults in the U.S. having documented wills or trusts. If you assume that estate planning isn’t for you because you haven’t acquired mass wealth or several large assets, you’d be mistaken. 

The Importance of Having an Estate Plan

Estate planning is simply a way to protect your assets and your loved ones by creating legally valid documents that address a variety of concerns. These concerns often include ensuring that your money and property are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your assets are managed according to your wishes. 

Beginning the Estate Planning Process

To begin the estate planning process, several considerations need to be made. Some of the things that will require your attention are whether or not you have a will or trust, your plans for powers of attorney, insurance coverage, and your existing accounts. Below, we will discuss these considerations more in-depth:

Encourage Your Loved Ones to Begin Estate Planning

National Estate Planning Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get your own estate plan in place, but be sure to also reach out to your loved ones to ensure their future estate plans as well. Estate planning is often a difficult topic to broach because it brings the unpleasant topics of aging and death to the forefront of our minds. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation:

Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, LTD. Estate Planning Attorneys

Our estate planning and trust company in Reno, NV has been serving families and businesses throughout northern Nevada for over 25 years. As experienced estate attorneys, we are dedicated to providing you with the most current estate planning information and strategies to ensure your legacy for future generations. We’re able to prepare last will and testaments, revocable trusts, healthcare directives, and act as power of attorney in the case of your incapacitation. Contact us today to learn more about estate planning or sign up for one of our estate planning workshops.  

 Attend Our ESTATE PLANNING Workshops

In the attempt to progress towards a modern US tax system, the Biden administration has proposed a number of changes to the current tax code. According to a publication released by the U.S. Treasury early this year, they hope to push these changes through Congress which is necessary to gain approval for the amendments. It’s true that many Americans are divided on the best methods for stimulating the US economy, however, one fact remains undoubtable - careful estate and tax planning is crucial for the wealth and financial security of American families. 

The Greenbook, a publication that provides information regarding the Administration’s revenue proposals, details the proposed changes which will ultimately impact estate planning in numerous ways. Many of the effective estate planning strategies that have been diligently defined by professionals in the industry for decades may be discarded. However, this could also enhance certain processes in estate planning by implementing other key strategies.   

How Might the Estate Tax Exemption Reduction Affect You?

Notably, the reduction of estate and gift tax exemption amounts is absent from the list of proposals. While it’s possible that this could change in the future, we know that for now, these tax exemptions remain extremely high. It’s important to understand the law as it is written today so that you can make appropriate decisions with your assets and prepare for other coming changes. 

As it stands today, the estate tax laws that were passed under the Trump administration will expire and reset to the prior laws starting in 2026. If there is no action made by Congress to change this, the reset will restore the estate and gift tax exemption amount to $5 million, as it was in 2016. However, the rate of inflation must also be included in this amount which brings the total to roughly $6.6 million by 2026. 

With this information in mind, it’s crucial that you do all you can now to determine the expected return on your investments for the future. To do this, you should consider the average rates of return on your current investments, compounded annually. Many people have found that a healthy return of 7% annually could double one’s net worth in just 10 to 12 years. However, if estate tax exemption amounts are reduced by roughly 50% and continue to increase with the inflation rate, you risk having to pay significantly high estate tax rates. 

Other Greenbook Proposals May Be a Factor

It can be difficult to prepare for the uncertainties that may affect your tax and estate planning strategies. Without knowing what the future holds, how do you determine the best way to protect your assets? To make a more accurate decision, some of the other Greenbook proposals should also be considered, such as: 

These changes haven’t been approved yet by Congress, but their consideration could help sway your strategic plans. The following strategies are still effective tools under current tax law, and implementing them now could provide significant tax savings.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is an estate planning strategy that allows the grantor to contribute appreciating assets to chosen beneficiaries using little or none of your gift tax exemption. To do this, you would transfer some of your property or accounts to the GRAT in which you will still retain the right to receive an annuity. Following a specified period of time, the beneficiaries will receive the amount remaining in the trust.

inheritance estate planning

Installment Sales to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust

Another estate planning strategy that may be beneficial for you is to gift seed capital, typically in the form of cash, to an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT). You will then sell appreciating or income-producing property to the IDGT in which they will make installment payments back to you over a period of time. If the account or property increases in value over the period of the sale, the accounts or property in the trust will appreciate outside your taxable estate and will therefore avoid estate taxes. Additionally, the trust does not have to pay income taxes on the income the trust retains since the taxes are already paid on the income generated and accumulated in the trust.

Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

In a spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT), the grantor is to gift property to a trust created for the benefit of their spouse and possibly their beneficiaries. An independent trustee can make discretionary distributions to those beneficiaries, which can also benefit you indirectly. Contrary, an interested trustee should be limited to ascertainable standards when making distributions, such as health and education. With this estate planning strategy, you can take advantage of the high lifetime gift tax exemption amount by making gifts to your spouse. This trust avoids the use of the marital deduction which means the assets in the SLAT will not be included in either your or your spouse’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

Finally, there are irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs). This trust allows leveraging life insurance to ease the burden placed on your estate if it becomes subject to estate tax at your death. This type of trust is established by transferring an existing life insurance policy into the ILIT in which you make annual gifts to the trust in order to pay the premiums on the policy. At your death, the trust receives the insurance death benefit and distributes it according to the trust’s terms. The death benefit and the premiums gifted to the trust are completed gifts, meaning your estate would not include any of the trust’s value. 

Meet with Reputable Estate Planning Attorneys Today

We are holding a series of webinars over the coming weeks, from which you can obtain a great deal of useful information. Just choose the session that fits into your schedule. The webinars are being offered on a complimentary basis, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This being stated, we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat.

To sign up for an estate planning webinar, visit Anderson, Dorn & Rader here. Once you find a date that is right for you, click on the button that you see and follow the simple instructions to register. For more information regarding estate tax exemptions and planning, connect with our estate planning attorneys today.

SPEAK WITH AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY

Our law firm has been helping families plan for both their financial wealth and their treasured wealth for many years. We believe that traditional estate planning has been failing American families. Traditional “bare bones” estate plans have only focused on distributing financial wealth and have done little to secure the future families intend when planning for future generations.

We have seen many families lose financial assets after the first generation through traditional estate planning means. The loss of family legacies and history is even more devastating.

There is a better alternative! Legacy Wealth Planning helps you examine not only your financial and non-financial goals and concerns but it also focuses on the values and legacy you wish to leave behind. With a customized Legacy Wealth Plan, you can minimize the emotional impact on your family, retain valuable assets and ensure that your legacy lives on through those you love and your future generations.

In our estate and legacy planning meetings, we take a deeper look at the real-life issues facing families today…

  1. Revocable Living Trust: A device used to avoid probate and provide management of your property, both during life and after death.
  2. Property Power of Attorney: Instrument used to allow an agent you name to manage your property.
  3. Health Care Power of Attorney: Instrument used to allow a person you name to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated.
  4. Annual Gift Tax Exclusion: Technique to allow gifts without the imposition of estate or gift taxes and without using lifetime exclusion.
  5. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust: A trust used to prevent estate taxes on insurance proceeds received at the death of an insured.
  6. Family Limited Partnership: An entity used to:
    1. Provide asset protection for partnership property from the creditors of a partner
    2. Provide protection for limited partners from creditors
    3. Enable gifts to children and parents maintaining management control
    4. Reduce transfer tax value of property.
  7. Children’s or Grandchildren’s Irrevocable Education Trust: A trust used by parents and grandparents for a child’s or grandchild’s education.
  8. Charitable Remainder Interest Trust: A trust whereby donors transfer property to a charitable trust and retain an income stream from the property transferred. The donor receives a charitable contribution income tax deduction, and avoids a capital gains tax on transferred property.
  9. Fractional Interest Gift: Allows a donor to transfer partial interests in real property to donees and obtain fractional interest discounts for estate and gift tax purposes.
  10. Private Foundation: An entity used by higher-wealth families to receive charitable income, gift, or estate tax deduction while allowing the family to retain some control over the assets in the foundation.

Take a moment to stop and think about what you really want to pass down to future generations. The odds are good that it is not just tangible assets, but the intangible ideals, philosophies, and beliefs that make up your legacy that you hope to pass down. Legacy planning can help you do just that. Legacy planning is not something that takes the place of your existing estate plan. Instead, legacy planning takes over where your estate plan leaves off and focuses on things that are typically overlooked in traditional estate planning.

Limitations of a Traditional Estate Plan

A traditional estate plan focuses on protecting, growing, and eventually distributing the tangible assets you acquire over the course of your lifetime. While traditional estate planning remains necessary, it does have its limitations. For example, your traditional estate plan can help you plan for the end of your life by creating a roadmap for distributing your material wealth after you are gone; however, there is no place in that plan to focus on the values, morals, faith, and beliefs that have guided you throughout your lifetime and helped you reach the material success you have achieved.  As you undoubtedly know, those core values, investing philosophies, religious beliefs, and guiding principles are far more valuable to your beneficiaries than tangible assets are, which is why legacy planning is so important.

How Is Legacy Planning Different from Traditional Estate Planning?

Legacy planning does not require a separate plan nor does it require you to abandon your current estate plan. Instead, legacy planning is accomplished by taking a holistic approach to your comprehensive plan that weaves your legacy into your existing plan. Think of it as creating a bigger, better, more inclusive version of your current estate plan. By doing so, the hope is that future generations will honor your legacy by adopting the same values and beliefs that guided you throughout your lifetime.

What Is Your Legacy?

Legacy planning begins by asking the question “What is the legacy you wish to leave behind?” How can your legacy shape your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren? What are the principles, values, philosophies, and beliefs you wish to impart on future generations? For some people, their faith comes first. Others place a great deal of importance on education, family values, or philanthropy. Maybe you have an investing philosophy that has worked extremely well for you that you wish to pass on to loved ones. Your legacy is yours to create and pass down by incorporating modern and innovative legacy planning tools and strategies into your overall estate plan.

How Does Legacy Planning Work?

Because the legacy you wish to pass on is highly unique and personal, the legacy plan you create will also be unlike any other legacy plan. There are, however, some common tools and strategies used to interweave your legacy plan into your estate plan. For example, if you have a strong belief in the importance of education, you might establish a trust that can only be used to pay for tuition or expenses related to higher education. If philanthropy is part of your daily life, you could create a family foundation that will carry on your charitable work after you are gone.  Drafting a Letter of Instructions that discusses your values, philosophies, and beliefs is also a straightforward and simple way to incorporate legacy planning in your estate plan.

Contact a Reno, Nevada Legacy Planning Attorney Today

Your legacy plan reflects what truly matters to you and what you hope to pass down to future generations. The legacy planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. are committed to ensuring that your legacy shines through in your comprehensive estate plan. If you are ready to get started with your Reno, Nevada legacy plan, contact us today by using our online contact form or by calling (775) 823-9455.

Q. What is Legacy Wealth Planning?
A. Legacy Wealth Planning is the creation of a definitive plan for managing your total wealth while you’re alive, distributing your estate how you choose after your death, and a clear plan to pass on your legacy. Your estate includes all assets of any value that you own. This includes non-financial assets as well as financial assets, including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and personal property. Your legacy incorporates important decisions ensuring your family core values, responsible behaviors and community involvement are passed on to future generations. Keep in mind, your legacy also includes personal effects, such as family heirlooms, stories, and accumulated wisdom and life lessons of your family.

Q. What is “traditional” estate planning?
A. Traditional estate planning (Wills and Trusts) focuses on the accumulation, the preservation, and the distribution of only your financial assets and worldly possessions. It protects material wealth from probate and minimizes taxes.

Q: Why do I need an estate plan?
A: Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives accumulating wealth. With this, there comes a time to preserve wealth both for enjoyment and future generations. A solid, effective estate plan ensures that your hard-earned wealth will remain intact as it passes to your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats.

Q. What is the difference between “traditional” estate planning and Legacy Wealth Planning?
A. Traditional estate planning is focused on financial assets and is concerned with avoiding probate and estate taxes. On the other hand, Legacy Wealth Planning is concerned with financial and non-financial assets of a family and creating a family’s personal legacy plan. Legacy Wealth Planning addresses how to capture and transfer family traditions and values, as well as protecting financial wealth for current and future generations.

Q: If I don’t create an estate plan, won’t the government provide one for me?
A: YES. But your family may not like it. The government’s estate plan is called “Intestate Probate” and guarantees government interference in the disposition of your estate. Documents must be filed and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property–and it all takes place in the public’s view. If you fail to plan your estate, you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process that can become a nightmare. Then there is the matter of the federal government’s death taxes. There is much you can do in planning your estate that will reduce and even eliminate death taxes, but you don’t suppose the government’s estate plan is designed to save your estate from taxes, do you? While some estate planners favor Wills and others prefer a Family Wealth Trust as the Estate Plan of Choice, all estate planners agree that dying without an estate plan should be avoided at all costs.

Q. What is a Family Wealth Trust?
A. A Family Wealth Trust is the main component of a Legacy Wealth Plan and covers important issues other than avoiding probate.

Q: What’s the difference between having a Will and a Living Trust?
A: A Will is a legal document that describes how your assets should be distributed in the event of death. The actual distribution, however, is controlled by a legal process called probate, which is Latin for “prove the Will.” Upon your death, the Will becomes a public document available for inspection by all comers. And, once your Will enters the probate process, it’s no longer controlled by your family, but by the court and probate attorneys. Probate can be cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally traumatic during a family’s time of grief and vulnerability. Con artists and others with less-than-pure financial motives have been known to use their knowledge about the contents of a will to prey on survivors. A Living Trust avoids probate because your property is owned by the trust, so technically there’s nothing for the probate courts to administer. Whomever you name as your “successor trustee” gains control of your assets and distributes them exactly according to your instructions. There is one other crucial difference: A Will doesn’t take effect until your death, and is therefore no help to you during lifetime planning, an increasingly important consideration since Americans are now living longer. A Family Wealth Trust can help you preserve and increase your estate while you’re alive, and offers protection should you become mentally disabled.

Q. How does a Family Wealth Trust differ from a Revocable Living Trust?
A. Most Revocable Living Trusts are primarily concerned with avoiding probate and estate taxes. A Family Wealth Trust offers lifetime benefits, and protects wealth for current and future generations.

Q: The possibility of a disabling injury or illness scares me. What would happen if I were mentally disabled and had no estate plan or just a Will?
A: Unfortunately, you would be subject to “living probate,” also known as a conservatorship or guardianship proceeding. If you become mentally disabled before you die, the probate court will appoint someone to take control of your assets and personal affairs. These “court-appointed agents” must file a strict accounting of your finances with the court. The process is often expensive, time-consuming and humiliating.

Q. Why should I have a Family Wealth Trust?
A: Not only does a Family Wealth Trust provide for the disposition of your property (like a Will), but it also offers the following benefits:

  1. Provides for the immediate transfer or trust management and distribution in the future of assets after death;
  2. Allows for a smooth transition of management upon incapacity or death;
  3. Avoids the expense and hassle of probate proceedings;
  4. Minimizes estate taxes and defers payment of estate taxes for married couples;
  5. Allows for continued control over assets after death or incapacity;
  6. Provides security to you and your loved ones;
  7. Protects your children’s inheritance from their own potential divorce;
  8. Safeguards your estate for your kids if your surviving spouse remarries;
  9. Offers flexibility.

Q: If I set up a Family Wealth Trust, can I be my own trustee?
A: YES. In fact, most people who create a Family Wealth Trust act as their own trustees. If you are married, you and your spouse can act as co-trustees. And you will have absolute and complete control over all of the assets in your trust. In the event of a mentally disabling condition, your hand-picked successor trustee assumes control over your affairs, not the court’s appointee.

Q: Will a Family Wealth Trust avoid income taxes?
A: NO. The purpose of creating a Family Wealth Trust is to avoid living probate, death probate, and reduce or even eliminate federal estate taxes. It’s not a vehicle for reducing income taxes. In fact, if you’re the trustee of your Family Wealth Trust, you will file your income tax returns exactly as you filed them before the trust existed. There are no new returns to file and no new liabilities are created.

Q: Can I transfer real estate into a Family Wealth Trust?
A: YES. In fact, all real estate should be transferred into your Family Wealth Trust. Otherwise, upon your death, depending on how you hold the title, there will be a death probate in every state in which you hold real property. When your real property is owned by your Family Wealth Trust, there is no probate anywhere.

Q: Is the Family Wealth Trust some kind of loophole the government will eventually close down?
A: NO. The Family Wealth Trust has been authorized by the law for centuries. The government really has no interest in making you or your family suffer a probate that will only further clog up the legal system. A Family Wealth Trust avoids probate so that your estate is settled exactly according to your wishes.

Q: How do I know if I have a “bare bones” living trust?
A: Very few estate planning attorneys offer Legacy Wealth Planning. A “bare bones” living trust covers probate avoidance and usually ignores important issues to protect you, your spouse (if married) and your children. Bring your existing trust to your free one-hour consultation and we can review it for you.

Q: If I have a “bare bones” living trust should I go back to the attorney who drafted the trust?
A: You can certainly go back to the attorney you worked with before, however, few attorneys offer Legacy Wealth Planning. If you want Legacy Wealth Planning, contact a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Q: Is a Family Wealth Trust only for the rich?
A: No. A Family Wealth Trust can help anyone who wants to protect his or her family from unnecessary probate fees, attorney’s fees, court costs and federal estate taxes. In fact, the Family Wealth Trust offers substantial protection for your family, regardless of your total estate. In addition to savings at death, especially if your estate is over $100,000, the Family Wealth Trust also provides savings and peace of mind during life, because it avoids the expense and emotional nightmare of an incapacity or “living probate” proceeding. Also, a Family Wealth Trust protects spouses in the event of remarriage after one spouse dies and affords greater protection for children.

Q: Can any attorney create a Family Wealth Trust?
A: YES, but you would be better off choosing an attorney whose practice is focused on estate planning. Members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys receive continuing legal education on the latest changes in any law affecting estate planning, allowing them to provide you with the highest quality estate planning service anywhere.

Q: What steps can I take to preserve my legacy?
A: The best approach is to meet with an attorney who understands the Legacy Wealth Planning process. This will ensure you address the financial and non-financial assets of your family. The right attorney will help you, first, set up a Family Wealth Trust to preserve your financial legacy. Then, you will be educated about completing the My Legacy workbook, to share in your own words about your life story, family history, memories, and life lessons. And finally, writing a Legacy Planning Letter to distribute your cherished possessions with sentimental value.

Including heirlooms in your estate planWhen it comes to estate planning most clients readily think about their cash, investments, houses, and cars.  But what some clients tend to overlook are the valuable family heirlooms.  Those items hold value: not only monetary, but most often emotional value.  When it comes to deciding how to distribute your assets, you will certainly want to include your personal effects, such as your grandmother's engagement ring or your grandfather's pocket watch.  Including heirlooms in your estate plan is important for you and your family.
Be specific and put it in writing
It is common for parents to sit down with their children and discuss which personal belongings or heirlooms each of them may want after the parents pass on.  However, even though children may agree now their preferences may change over time.  Memories often fade or personal feelings change.  Though it may not be necessary to specifically leave each and every personal item to someone, the gifts that are meaningful to you or your family should be written down in specific detail.  Designating which items you want to leave to which family members will be important to you and your beneficiaries in the future.  A properly drafted estate plan will allow you to distribute those items upon your death through a separate writing that can be updated over time without constant attorney involvement.
Obtain an appraisal of your heirlooms
An heirloom is a specific item that is typically passed on from one generation to the next.  Traditionally, these types of items include items that hold great monetary, historical, or sentimental value.  Nonetheless, the first step you should take is to determine the potential monetary value by getting the items appraised.  Some clients prefer to get an appraisal while still alive in order to make sure their children each receive approximately the same value of property, and this can help with our areas of planning (such as obtaining the right amount of insurance).  But an appraisal while still alive is not necessary, as this step can also be done after your passing.
Finding someone to appraise your heirlooms
There are many different dealers out there with the expertise to appraise your heirlooms.  Determining where to go depends on what type of items you have.  For instance, antique dealers can appraise antique furniture and other older, rare items.  Fine art dealers, rare book dealers, and many others are available to provide accurate appraisals of the value of your heirlooms.  If you need a jump start on locating these individuals, contact certain professional organizations, such as Private Art Dealers Association, Art Dealers Association of America, International Fine Print Dealers Association, or the National Antique and Art Dealers Association of America.  These associations are very helpful in finding the type of qualified dealer you need.
Include a “No-Contest Clause” in your estate plan
In Nevada, we recommend that you include what is referred to as a “No-Contest Clause” in your will or trust.  This provision, when properly drafted, will often discourage family disputes over specific inheritances. With a No-Contest Clause, if an heir chooses to contest, or challenge, the will, they will no longer be entitled to receive any part of the inheritance.
If you have questions regarding family heirlooms, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

Avoiding family heirloom disputesFamily heirlooms come in all shapes and sizes – from jewelry to art, fine china to family photos.  Determining how to fairly divide these family heirlooms among your loved ones, after your death, can be very challenging.  Unless you provide very specific instructions in your will or other estate planning documents, your executor will be left without any assistance.  Avoiding family heirloom disputes can be accomplished with some planning.
Using Personal Property Memos
A personal property memo is a written statement, referred to in a last will and testament, used to leave tangible personal property not specifically disposed of in the will to the beneficiaries. Often this is used to keep certain items out of public knowledge in the probate process.   A personal property memo can be revised or modified without having to execute your will again.  However, the memo is not considered an amendment to the will.
How to Ensure Equitable Distribution of Heirlooms
Typically, when it comes to family heirlooms, there are a few items with greater value than others.  This can make equitable distribution between family members more of a challenge.  However, there are few strategies that can be useful.  Of course, the most direct way is to make specific bequests to your heirs and discuss your decisions with them while you are still living.  If your children are happy with your choices, then the likelihood of a dispute over these items after your death can be greatly decreased.  But, what should be done if there are family heirlooms that are not specifically bequeathed, for whatever reason?
Alternative methods of distributing family heirlooms
Without any specific instructions, in many cases the appointed executor or trustee will determine who to divide the family heirlooms at his or her own discretion.  Another method, which is useful in avoiding family disputes, is to allow the beneficiaries to divide the heirlooms amongst themselves by agreement. If there are any particular items that cannot be agreed upon, the executor or trustee can make the decision.  Beneficiaries can also select the heirlooms by drawing lots in equal shares, with any inequities to be resolved by cash payments.  Similarly, the executor can hold a silent auction.
Reaching the ultimate goal
Ultimately, when a loved one passes away, the surviving family should not spend time fighting over their personal property.  Instead, it is a time to be supportive to one another and to celebrate the life well-spent.  By planning ahead, with the assistance of an estate planning attorney, you can prevent many of the potential challenges inherent in distributing an estate, including family heirlooms, and avoid family squabbles of these important items.
If you have questions regarding family heirlooms, or any other legacy planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

Successor Trustee of a Family TrustChoosing who should be the successor trustee of a family trust can be a very difficult decision.  The successor trustee will be the person who administers the trust assets after you become incapacitated or die. The successor trustee holds, manages, invests the trust assets and collects the income and profits from the investments.  The successor trustee will be responsible for paying the expenses of administering the trust and distributing the assets are required in the Trust Agreement.  How should you go about choosing the successor trustee of a family trust?
Choosing a proper successor trustee
Generally, when you establish your trust, you are the trustee of a family wealth trust.  So, choosing the successor trustee is very important.  The individual you choose must be trustworthy, reliable and organized.  He or she should be good at following instructions and carrying out the tasks specified in the Trust Agreement. It is also important that the successor be willing to seek professional assistance when it becomes necessary.  There are typically three different types of trustees you can consider: an individual, a financial institution, or a licensed professional.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Family or friends are common choices for successor trustees
The most popular choice is usually a relative or friend.  An individual who is known to you personally, obviously has its benefits.  Generally speaking, you will have more trust in that person and you can expect more personal attention from them, both towards you and your beneficiaries. Another benefit might be that this trustee may not charge your estate for their services, which will reduce the overall cost of administering the trust.
The disadvantages may be that a personal friend or family member may not be qualified to handle the responsibilities, or may not be willing or completely available to carry out the tasks.  More importantly, if this trustee runs off with the trust funds, or is simply incompetent, there most likely will not be any insurance or bond in place to protect your assets.
Financial institutions can serve as trustees
Another option is choosing a financial institution or a trust company to serve as successor trustee of a family trust.  Nearly all major financial institutions have trust departments or associated trust companies that are qualified and very capable of serving as successor trustees of a family trust.  Clearly, the knowledge and expertise in managing funds that a financial institution or a trust company possesses is a great benefit.  However, this type of trustee typically charges fees for its services and they may take longer to process the administration.
Licensed professional trustees are another option
A licensed professional can also be chosen as a successor trustee of a family trust.  One advantage of this type of trustee, as compared to a financial institution or trust company, is that they provide more personal service.  One drawback of choosing an individual fiduciary is that he or she may not actually be available to serve at the time needed.  Whereas, a financial institution would always be a reliable source of trust administration services.
While settling on a successor trustee may not be an easy decision, it is necessary.  You will certainly benefit from understanding your options and obtaining good, sound advice from an estate planning attorney.  If you have questions regarding family wealth trusts, or any other trust or estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

Trusts are a vital wealth planning tool, not only for asset protection, but also for safeguarding the family’s wealth, regulating access to property and assets by younger family members, and providing long-term oversight and investment management for families. The trustee is responsible, either directly or indirectly, for investing those assets and making sound decisions in making distributions to beneficiaries.
Regardless of the size of your estate, it is important to consider protecting your assets and creating a plan to ensure that your family wealth will be passed on as you wish.  The goal of asset protection is to shelter the wealth you have created from unnecessary risks. A family wealth trust can be the most effective and flexible option for protecting family wealth.  When your estate planning attorney properly customizes a trust for your family, the benefits will far exceed simply leaving assets to family members in your will.  Remember, a Family Wealth Trust is not just for the wealthy.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is just an agreement between a trustor, trustee and beneficiary regarding how and when assets will be transferred.  The “trustor” is the person who owns the assets in and creates the trust.  The “trustee” is the person to whom the legal title of the assets passes.  The “beneficiary” is the person who eventually receives the assets after specific conditions have been met.  Trustees can be friends, relatives or professionals, such as attorneys or accountants.  In some cases, an entity such as a bank or a trust company can serve as trustee.
How do Family Wealth Trusts actually provide protection?
Usually, a family wealth trust becomes irrevocable when the trustor dies.  This simply means its terms cannot be changed once it has been created.  Furthermore, the assets are no longer part of the trustor’s estate once the trust becomes irrevocable.  So, when the trustor passes away, these assets are not considered part of the personal estate and will not be subject to the beneficiary's creditors.  This is only one advantage of this type of trust.
A Generation-Skipping Trust
Another option to consider is the Generation-Skipping Trust, which will allow you to retain your tax exemption on gifts to your grandchildren and avoid the tax on any amounts exceeding that exemption.  In 2014, the Generation-Skipping tax exemption is $5.34 million, which is the same as the federal estate tax exclusion.  This is also a beneficial estate planning tool, if you want to leave assets to your grandchildren.  For instance, you can put $100,000 in a generation-skipping trust and allow it to accumulate earnings for any number of years.  Still, your lifetime exemption would only be reduced by the original $100,000.  If you have any questions about these or any other asset protection tools, please contact our office.

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The Case of the iPhone Will

In the case In re Estate of Karter Wu (Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia), Mr. Wu created and stored his Last Will and Testament on an iPhone, along with a series of other documents, most of them final farewells.

Wu’s iPhone Will named an executor and successor, set forth how he wished to dispose of his assets at death, dealt with his entire estate, and authorized the executor to deal with his financial affairs. The Will began with the words “This is the Last Will and Testament of Karter Wu.” At the end of the document, Wu typed his name where the testator would normally sign his name, followed by the date and his address. The Australian court admitted the Will to probate.
The law for the execution of a valid Will in Queensland, Australia, is set forth in the Succession Act of 1981. The Act provides the requirements for execution, however, it provides that, if the court is satisfied that a person intended a document to form his Will, then the document shall be considered a Will as long as it purports to state his testamentary intentions. Australian law defines a “document” to include any disc, tape, article, or any materials from which writings are able to be produced or reproduced. Citing a New South Wales, Australia, case that held a Word document stored on a laptop computer to be a document, the court held the electronic record on the iPhone was a document for purposes of the statute. Since the record contained on the iPhone named an executor, authorized the executor to deal with his financial affairs, and provided for the distribution of Wu’s entire estate at a time he was contemplating his imminent death, the court held that it met the requirements of the Succession Act 1981.
California Probate Code § 6110 provides that a Will shall be in writing and signed by the testator, or signed in the testator’s name by some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, or by a conservator pursuant to court order. The Will must have the signatures of two witnesses. If the Will does not meet these requirements, it shall be treated as if it did meet the requirements if the proponent of the Will establishes by clear and convincing evidence that, at the time the testator executed the Will, he or she intended the document to be his or her Will.
Similarly, New Jersey law provides at N.J.S. 3B:3-2 that a document or writing is treated as complying with the normal rules for executing a Will if the proponent of the writing establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the document to constitute the decedent’s Will.
The California and New Jersey statutes are based on § 2-503 of the Uniform Probate Code. The impetus for the enactment of this section of the Uniform Probate Code may have been a case where an attorney attempted to probate the unsigned draft of a Will of a decedent who was killed in the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.
California Probate Code § 6130 further provides: “a writing in existence when a Will is executed may be incorporated by reference if the language of the Will manifests this intent and describes the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. California Probate Code § 6131 states: “a Will may dispose of property by reference to acts and events that have significance apart from their effect upon the dispositions made by the Will, whether the acts or events occur before or after the execution of the Will or before or after the testator’s death. . . .”
Recently, a Will was admitted to probate in California where the Will referred to the disposition of assets in accordance with recordings that the decedent had left, both prior to the execution of the Will and would leave after the execution of the Will, on his answering machine at his residence. The judge found that the recordings constituted a writing within the meaning of the California Probate Code and were to be incorporated by reference and were to be considered to be acts of independent significance. Therefore, the recordings were given effect with regard to the disposition of property as governed by the Will.
While the existence of these statutes in many states have broadened what may be admitted as a Will for probate, it is not a good idea to rely on these statutes to assure that one’s Will will be accepted by the local probate court. Having a Will drafted by an attorney experienced in estate planning and drafting is always the best course of action to assure there will be no problems with the disposition of one’s estate at death.
Furthermore, there are many reasons why one may not wish to subject his or her estate to probate upon death, including potential additional costs, delays in administration, and the publicity of both the extent of the decedent’s wealth and the identification of the beneficiaries of the estate. There are many ways to avoid a probate administration at death, including the execution and funding of a revocable or irrevocable trust during the individual’s lifetime.
For more information about the ways to avoid probate, contact our law office. Our office focuses on estate planning, probate administration, and methods to avoid probate for those who have a desire to do so. We work with clients of all wealth levels and ages. As a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, our firm is kept up-to-date with information regarding estate planning and estate and trust administration strategies. You can get more information about scheduling a complimentary estate planning appointment and our planning and administration services by calling Gerald M. Dorn, Esq. at (775) 823-9455

trust in reno nvIt can be intimidating to consider the possibility of relinquishing control over your property. People sometimes assume that you do surrender control of assets when you create a trust.
In this post we will provide some clarity about creating a trust in northern Nevada.

Different Types of Trusts

Revocable Trusts

There are different types of trusts. Perhaps the most commonly utilized trust in Reno NV in the field of estate planning is the revocable living trust.
These trusts are largely useful to enable probate avoidance. If you use a last will to state your final wishes, the estate must be probated before your heirs receive their inheritances.
This process can be expensive and time-consuming. Most people would like to facilitate timely asset transfers.
When you use a revocable living trust to arrange for these transfers the distributions to the beneficiaries will take place outside of probate.
Because of the fact that the trust is revocable, you do retain control of assets that you convey into this type of trust.
You can act as both the trustee and the beneficiary while you are still living, and most people will do this. As a result, you can control investments and give yourself distributions as you see fit.
The control doesn't stop there. Because the trust is revocable, you can actually dissolve or revoke it at any time. The terms that you originally set forth are not etched in stone either. You can change them and add or subtract beneficiaries.

Irrevocable Trusts

There are irrevocable trusts as well. With some exceptions, these trusts do require you to surrender incidents of ownership, so you do not continue to have control of the property that has been conveyed into the trust.
Because the trust is not revocable, you cannot dissolve it, and generally speaking the terms cannot be changed.
Why would you want to create a trust that did not allow you to retain control? There are a number of reasons.
Certain estate tax efficiency strategies involve irrevocable trusts. Because the assets would be owned by the trust rather than the estate, there are certain benefits.
In addition, when you surrender incidents of ownership by placing assets into an irrevocable trust they are generally going to be protected from creditors and claimants seeking redress. Nevada does allow some irrevocable trusts to be "self-settled," so some incidents of ownership are retained, but these are sophisticated strategies that require the advice of competent counsel to establish and fund.

Specific Questions, Straight Answers

The best way to proceed if you have questions about estate planning would be to discuss everything in detail with a licensed Reno Nevada estate planning lawyer.
Rather than looking for answers to general questions about what trusts can and cannot do, you would be better off consulting with an attorney. You can explain exactly what you want to accomplish, and your attorney can give you direct answers to your specific questions.
 

November 11 is Veterans Day, and people around the country are taking some time to remember the contributions that have been made by former service members.  In this post we would like to share some thoughts about retirement and estate planning for veterans.
The Basics
Veterans have the same concerns that we all do when it comes to estate planning. You want to make sure that you are taking all the appropriate steps with regard to the transfer of your assets after you pass away. It is also important to be financially prepared for the different stages of life.
When it comes to the latter component, if you are a careerist you have some great opportunities when it comes to retirement planning. The military pension that service members are entitled to after at least 20 years of service can be a fantastic supplement to Social Security income.
In addition, many people embark on careers in the private sector after serving 20 years. If you joined up after college at the age of 22 for example, you would be just 42 when you leave the service.
You would have an extraordinary resume. Your undergraduate education would have been in place before you joined, and you may well have added onto that while you were in the military.
This presents an extraordinary opportunity for wealth building. You could be drawing a significant retirement pension while you are traversing a civilian career path. If you plan ahead effectively, you could potentially accumulate quite a bit of wealth while you enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
This would all lead to the ability to enjoy your retirement years to the utmost once you decide to put your working years behind you.
Legacy Planning
Service members are inherently involved in history making. When you have served in the Armed Forces, especially during a time of war, you have experienced things that civilians simply cannot fully grasp.
A legacy plan can involve leaving behind autobiographical notes or memoirs. This can be a gift that has a lasting impact that transcends dollars and cents.
Veterans should definitely consider putting their experiences into writing. You can include these memoirs among your estate planning documents. Family members can learn much, and perhaps ancestors yet unborn can learn some history when they read your reminiscences.
There is also the matter of physical mementos. Veterans often retain ownership of items that hold a great deal of significance to them. When you share the stories that are attached to things that you will be leaving behind, you imbue these items with meaning that can be felt over the generations.
Honoring Veterans
We would like to thank all veterans for their service. Without their sacrifices we would not have the freedoms that we enjoy each and every day.

People who are fortunate enough to enjoy significant financial success are often in a position to create a charitable foundation. When you take this step you can leave behind a profound legacy as your name is associated with philanthropy into perpetuity.
The actor Larry Hagman died at the age of 81 recently, and he will certainly be missed. Though he played a rather unlikable character on the classic television series Dallas, people who knew him say that he was a very nice person who made the world around him a better place.
Individuals who have created artistic works of various kinds leave behind a legacy in the form of their work. Hagman certainly left behind a great deal of his own work, and people will be able to enjoy it for generations to come.
In addition to his legacy as a performing artist Hagman was also an avid philanthropist.
People who start foundations often target causes that are particularly meaningful to them. Hagman greatly valued the creative arts, and indeed, his ability to craft a character before the camera enabled him to enjoy extraordinary financial success.
He gave something back by starting the Larry Hagman Foundation. This foundation assists children in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who have an interest in the creative arts but lack financial support.
Admirers sometimes want to do something in remembrance of a public figure who has passed away. The family of Larry Hagman asks that you make a donation to the Larry Hagman Foundation if you want to pay your respects.
If you are interested in establishing or identifying a foundation that meets your charitable intent, be sure to contact qualified legal counsel to assist you. There are many legal and tax pitfalls that can be avoided with proper advice.
 

Estate planning for high net worth families is extraordinarily important given the realities of the federal estate tax and any damage that could be done via litigation. In addition to these protections you also have the ability to reach out and support nonprofit entities that you believe in while gaining tax advantages in the process.
This may seem self-evident to anyone who has the financial savvy to have accumulated a significant store of wealth. You must, however, be diligent because constant adjustments may be necessary as things change.
There are changes that take place in your own life such as a divorce, getting remarried, and watching family members depart while others join the family. Of course very significant changes in your financial standing are relevant as well.
In addition to these things that can take place in the life of an individual there are also very important changes that reverberate throughout society as a whole. For example, in 2013 the estate tax exclusion is going down to $1 million while the rate rises to as much as 55%. These parameters will also apply to the gift tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax.
The portability of the estate tax exclusion between spouses ends in 2013 as well. Besides the increased exposure to estate taxes, taxes on dividends and capital gains will be going up if the currently existing laws are not changed in the very near future.
To keep wealth intact you must be ready to adjust along the way, so take advantage of an annual review with your estate planning attorney and stay on top of your financial health.

We all leave behind a legacy when we die -- what your legacy is depends on how much time and effort you put into creating it prior to your death. You don’t have to have a vast fortune in order to create a legacy plan; however, the wealthier you are, the more important it is to create a legacy plan that is consistent with your objectives.
A legacy plan is your chance to elaborate on your basic estate plan. Your basic estate plan allows you to determine who will receive your assets when you die. A legacy plan allows you to ensure that those assets are preserved for generations to come and/or allows you to continue contributing to causes that have meant something to you during your lifetime. Without a legacy plan, your wealth may be significantly reduced by various taxes levied on your estate at the time of your death. In addition, you will lose the opportunity to direct how your wealth will be managed after your death.
A legacy plan often incorporates trusts and other estate planning tools that can allow you to direct how your assets will be used for generations to come. A generation skipping trust, for example can provide income for your children and ensure that assets are preserved for your grandchildren. A charitable trust can be created to provide a mechanism for you to continue to support a cause that was important to you during your lifetime long after your death. Start planning now so you can create a legacy of which you can be proud.

The dictionary definition of the word "legacy" will tell you that your legacy involves gifts of property and monetary assets after your passing. This is of course a large part of it, but there could be more to shaping your legacy than simply arranging for the passing of your assets to your family members.
Depending on your resources exactly how you go about this can vary considerably. There are those who will make a donation that is specifically used to finance some type of building project. This may carry your name into perpetuity, which can be quite rewarding for many people.
Some people will leave behind the resources to provide a scholarship or scholarships to worthy students. This too can be an enriching portion of an individual's legacy.
You can also choose to pass along the wisdom that you have acquired throughout your life by committing your experiences to writing. Some people choose to write a full-blown autobiography and leave it behind for future generations to draw from. Others will author an ethical will that passes along their moral and spiritual values. Today, there are many resources to assist in writing an interesting personal history that can be found online or in bookstores.  The same is true of writing an ethical will.
Carefully selecting certain family heirlooms and/or personal possessions and handing them on to particular respective heirs for specific reasons can also be part of a carefully planned legacy.
There are many possibilities to take into account when you are preparing for the latter portion of your life and your eventual death. If you're interested in taking estate planning to a higher level, don't hesitate to get in touch with a Northern Nevada legacy planning attorney to arrange for an informative consultation.

If you want to pass a proper legacy and be comprehensively prepared for all the contingencies that you may face during the latter stages of your life, it is wise to think long-term.  You hear people throw around the term "luck" quite a bit, but the wise individual knows that you make your own luck. When you see people who are enjoying a comfortable retirement while being able to leave significant bequests to their loved ones they probably didn't find themselves in this position by accident.
Yes, there are people who win the lottery and there are a few who come from very wealthy families. But for the most part, successful people devise intelligent long-term plans and stick to them. If you stick your head in the sand and simply hope for the best you may find yourself completely unprepared as you near what most people would consider to be the typical retirement age.
In fact, you may be surprised to hear just how unprepared a lot of people are. There was a poll conducted recently by AP-LifeGoesStrong.com that was intended to get an idea of how prepared baby boomers are for retirement. One fourth of the people who responded had no retirement savings at all, and a similar percentage said that they would never retire. Because of the fact that the baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age 10,000 people are applying for Social Security every day, and this is supposed to go on for the next 20 years.
So when you combine the facts above you can see that large numbers of people are completely unprepared for retirement. Long-term planning is the key to being able to meet your financial responsibilities when you reach an advanced age while retaining a suitable legacy to pass on to your loved ones. If you do not currently have a solid long-term plan in place, now is the time to get in touch with an experienced legacy planning attorney to arrange for an initial consultation.
 

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