Back in 1987, Congress recognized March as Women's History Month to celebrate the incredible contributions of women in American history across various fields. From building a strong and prosperous nation to being the backbone of their families, women have been unstoppable. Yet, in the midst of caring for others, women often neglect their own financial and estate planning. It's high time for women to prioritize themselves by crafting a solid plan that caters to their future needs, which may differ from those of their male counterparts and dependents.
Longer life expectancies. According to Social Security Administration data, in 2021, women had an average life expectancy of 79.5 years compared to 74.2 years for men. As a result, it is important for women to create an estate plan that accounts for additional years of living expenses during retirement, healthcare costs, and possibly long-term care costs. As women age, there may be a greater possibility that they could become incapacitated and need someone to act on their behalf to make financial and healthcare decisions. Documents such as financial and healthcare powers of attorney and living wills authorize a person they trust to make decisions or take action for them if they are not able to act for themselves. Some women may not only own their own assets but also inherit wealth from both their parents and a spouse who dies before them, and if so, they need a financial and estate plan to optimally preserve and transfer this wealth. Because women may outlive their spouses, they also may be responsible for administering their spouse’s estate or become the sole surviving trustee of a joint trust. These duties may be difficult for a woman who is experiencing health issues that often occur at an advanced age, and this possibility should be addressed in their estate planning. For example, a woman concerned that she will be unable to handle administering her trust at an advanced age can name a co-trustee or successor trustee to administer it if she is no longer able to do so.
Lower earnings. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, women continue to earn less than men, and the pay gap widens as they age. In addition, because some women have shorter employment histories due to time off to raise children or care for aging parents, they may have less saved for retirement. As a result, it is important for them to take steps to protect their money and property from lawsuits or creditors’ claims. For example, a woman could transfer her money and property to an irrevocable trust. Because she is no longer the legal owner of the property, a creditor cannot reach it to satisfy claims against her so long as the trust is properly drafted to include appropriate distribution standards and administrative and other provisions. The woman may be a discretionary beneficiary of the trust, and the trustee may distribute the funds she needs for living expenses. Additionally, because they have less money and property during their retirement, women need to have a solid plan in place to make sure that they are able to financially provide for their loved ones upon their death and that unnecessary costs and expenses are minimized to the extent possible.
Care for loved ones. Many women are caregivers for minor children, adult children with special needs, or aging parents. As a result, they are often concerned about who will care for their loved ones if they are no longer able to do so. If a spouse or sibling is not available to provide care, they need to make sure that another family member or trusted individual can be the caregiver (sometimes called a guardian of the person) for their loved one. The same individual—or someone else—can serve as the guardian of the loved one’s estate (sometimes called a conservator or guardian of the estate) to manage the inheritance for their benefit. In the case of a child with special needs, if no family member is able to take on the responsibility of their care, a group home or assisted living facility may be the best choice. A special needs trust may need to be established to ensure that funds are available for the child’s care but do not decrease the amount of government benefits they are eligible to receive.
You have accomplished a lot in your life! Celebrate your accomplishments and contributions during Women’s History Month by contacting us to set up an appointment to create an estate plan that provides for your own future needs and those of the people you love. You deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing your future is secure.
In October 2022, singer and songwriter Jerry Lee Lewis passed away. He left behind a rock legacy, a big family, and an estate valued in the multi-millions.
We often follow the lives of celebrities and dream of having their lavish lifestyles. Even so, famous folks experience many similar estate planning challenges just like the rest of us. This includes implementing the optimal tax strategy, as well as distributing assets to loved ones when deceased.
Lewis’s passing has prompted many to look back fondly at his music career. Aside from that though, it begs the question: what will shake out with his sizable estate? Let’s play “what if” in the following estate planning scenarios and see which lessons can be learned for celebrities and regular folks alike:
Jerry Lee Lewis lived a long life, passing at the old age of 87. Like other rock icons of the last century (Elvis, Johnny Cash), Lewis’s lifestyle put hard miles on him. Even though he engaged in substance abuse and experienced health problems, he outlived other leading rockers and was deemed “the last man standing from the dawn of rock and roll” by New York Magazine.
You likely have heard his greatest hit, “Great Balls of Fire”, but Lewis had a variety of other hits that earned him four Grammy wins. Lewis was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame. His music career spanned for an astounding seven decades, and he produced over forty albums.
At his death, Lewis left behind his seventh wife, Judith Coglan Lewis, and four of the six surviving children from his marriages. In the years preceding his death, a feud ensued between Lewis and his daughter, Phoebe, and her husband, Ezekiel Loftin. Lewis sued the Phoebe and her husband in 2017 for taking advantage of his financial status. Charges were later dropped.
Lewis had his fair share of financial missteps, filing for bankruptcy in 1988. The filing included more than $3 million in debts. This came from over $2 million in IRS dues, unpaid medical bills, and tens of thousands in attorney fees. Still, his net worth at the time of his death was estimated to be in the range of $10 million and $15.4 million.
As professional estate planning attorneys, we evaluate the life and legacy of Jerry Lee Lewis through the perspective of our field of expertise. While his tumultuous and fast-paced lifestyle may not align with our personal experiences, we recognize the valuable insight it provides in regards to common estate planning issues. In this discourse, we will address several issues related to Lewis's estate that are particularly noteworthy.
Based on what we know about Lewis’s relationship with his daughter, Phoebe, it is likely that he will remove her from any consideration to receive a portion of his assets. Mississippi law permits individuals to disinherit beneficiaries under a legitimate basis. However, it is worth noting that Phoebe has established her own career in the music industry and has done quite well for herself, potentially rendering any inheritance unnecessary.
The distribution of assets for his remaining children is yet to be determined. While most parents opt for equal distribution of assets among their children, the unique circumstances of the Lewis family dynamic require analysis of what is equal versus what is fair.
We can take lessons away from the Lewis family and apply them to our own situation. Each child has financial needs unique to their lives. While some are able to obtain financial freedom, others may struggle. A family’s financial picture can change for better or for worse between the birth of children as well. For instance, a younger child might enjoy a slightly more affluent lifestyle than the older siblings, simply because their parents have worked their way to a better career milestone and are making more money now than they were. This is why dividing assets equally within an estate plan is not always the fairest method for all parties.
Will He Transfer Assets to His Surviving Spouse?
Lewis was married a staggering seven times, and each came with their own controversies. His seventh wife was by his bedside upon his death. Will he distribute assets to her?
In the case that Lewis did not have a will in place, intestate law would take effect. This would automatically make his spouse the primary beneficiary. It’s not a far off scenario – about two thirds of American adults fail to compose a will. Rock icons can fall into this category if they fail to do some basic estate planning before death.
In the case that Lewis did have a will, he still could have left his entire estate, or a portion, to the surviving wife. If he just left a portion, those assets could be given to her as a lump sum, or distributed over time under the management of the estate’s trustee.
Lewis also would have had options deciding the type of trust set up. The pros and cons of these different types are as follows:
Even though death and taxes are certain in life, estate taxes may not fall into this category. It all depends on the breadth of the estate at Lewis’s death, and the amount of the lifetime exemption used.
The lifetime gift and estate tax exemption denotes the maximum amount of wealth that an individual can pass on to their heirs without incurring estate taxes. Such transfers can take place either as gifts throughout a person's lifetime or at the time of their death.
In 2022, the federal lifetime gift and estate tax exemption threshold was $12.06 million, rising to $12.92 million in 2023. Based on the conservative estimate of Lewis's net worth, the value of his estate is lower than the 2022 lifetime exemption limit. Therefore, in the absence of any previous use of his exemption during his lifetime, he may not require workarounds for estate taxes if his spouse does not posses substantial personal assets. It is worth noting that for couples, the exemption amount doubles to $25.84 million in 2023.
Mississippi does not impose an estate tax, so Lewis's estate does not need to worry about such a tax being levied. However, if Lewis had passed away in a state that imposes an estate tax, or if he had owned property in such a state, then his estate might have been subject to an additional tax due to his death. The exemption amount and tax rate for each state's estate tax are determined by that state.
In the case that Lewis's spouse does possesses assets and wealth that surpass the individual gift and estate tax exemption limit, it may behoove her to ask for the deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount. The DSUE provision, aimed at helping the surviving spouse, allows the unused exemption amount of the deceased spouse to be transferred to the surviving spouse in case the former did not use up the entire exemption amount. In simpler terms, Lewis's wife would be eligible to receive a DSUE amount of $2.06 million, calculated based on the 2022 exemption of $12.06 million and Lewis's estimated estate value of $10 million.
Based on the 2022 exemption of $12.06 million and an estimated estate value of $10 million, Lewis's wife would be eligible for a DSUE amount of $2.06 million.
It is impossible to know for sure how Jerry Lee Lewis chose to allocate his wealth. His wife and children may be as uninformed as the general public, and there could be unexpected elements in his estate plan that have yet to surface.
The Lewis family requested that instead of sending flowers for his funeral, contributions be made in his name to either the Arthritis Foundation or MusiCares. It raises the question whether Lewis may have chosen to allocate a significant portion of his estate to these or other charitable organizations instead of his family.
Only time will tell how it’ll play out. We may not even get the full story if he left his estate to charity, since it’s common for charity information to stay private.
Ironing out an estate plan is not exclusive to rock-and-roll icons. Regardless of the complexities of your estate, it is essential to develop a plan for the distribution of your assets, settling your debts, and ensuring that your wealth goes to the individuals and causes that matter to you. Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader’s office today to arrange a consultation with our team of estate planning attorneys and begin planning for the future.
You may have seen the popular ABC TV show, Modern Family, which follows a fictional extended family through life’s ups and downs. It’s a relatable show that addresses many issues life throws our way. Just like the families depicted in the series, it’s crucial to have an estate plan to protect loved ones when someone passes, or becomes unfit to manage their finances. Let’s take a look at some situations that arise in Modern Family episodes and how you can apply the lessons learned to your own situation.
Throughout the Modern Family series, various family members start and own businesses. No matter if it’s a passion project, investment opportunity, or owner-operator business, it should have a plan for the future.
The “traditional” lines in familial relationships can get blurred within multi-generational, blended families. For example, Jay often refers to Manny as his son, even though he’s technically his stepson (the child from Gloria’s previous marriage). Though he loves Manny as if he were his own son, the law doesn’t take these emotions into account when it comes to transferring business interests. Legally, stepchildren have no right to inherit a stepparent’s money or property. In situations like these, documentation should be created if you want any assets to be left to stepchildren, including your business interests.
There are several minors within the Modern Family series that would require guardianship in the event that their parents pass away. While Manny expressed a desire to serve as Joe's guardian if Gloria and Jay pass, it is important for them to formally nominate their preferred guardian in their wills. However, it should be noted that such a nomination is not binding and may be contested by others. To mitigate the risk of potential disputes and ensure Joe's wellbeing, it is advisable for Jay and Gloria to have open and candid discussions with both of their families to prevent any possibility of a guardianship dispute.
Rex and Lily would also require guardianship in the event of the passing of their parents. Without a comprehensive estate plan in place, it is possible that a dispute may arise between the families of Cameron and Mitchell. While Lily has spent a significant portion of her life close to Mitchell's family, later in the show, Lily and Rex move to reside with their parents in Missouri, which is closer to Cameron's family. As a result, Rex may develop a stronger bond with Cameron's family as he grows up, which could potentially lead to conflicts between the Pritchett and Tucker families if guardianship for these two children becomes necessary. To avoid such a scenario, it is imperative for Cameron and Mitchell to establish an appropriate estate plan.
Finally, it is important for Poppy and George to have designated guardians in the event that their parents, Haley and Dylan, die. While the family may not possess significant financial assets or property, it is crucial for them to establish basic plans for their children's care, including the appointment of primary and alternate guardians. When the show ends, Haley and Dylan have moved out of Phil and Claire's residence, but still nearby. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Farah, Dylan's mother, has become increasingly involved in their lives since the announcement of Haley's pregnancy. It is possible that she may express an interest in assuming the role of guardian for the children in the event of the untimely passing of Haley and Dylan.
As a parent of minor children, it is crucial to consider and plan for the potential guardianship of your children should the unexpected occur. While no one can replace a parent's love and care, it is essential to formally nominate a guardian in a last will and testament or through a separate legal document, as permitted by state laws. While the court ultimately makes the final determination, clearly expressing your wishes can provide peace of mind. Furthermore, discussing potential guardianship with your family members in advance can help prevent disputes and ensure that your wishes are respected upon your passing.
As all married couples know, the question of what will happen in the event of the first spouse's death is important to consider. For couples like Phil and Claire, who have built and accumulated their assets during the course of their marriage, it may be natural to consider everything they own as jointly held. Both partners may wish for all assets to pass to the surviving spouse. However, without proper planning, leaving assets outright to a surviving spouse can leave them vulnerable to creditors and predators.
It is important to consider potential scenarios, such as the possibility of a scam artist exploiting a well-intentioned person like Phil, or a successful woman like Claire remarrying and unintentionally disinheriting her children by leaving all assets to her new spouse. To safeguard assets for the surviving spouse, regardless of whether it is their first or third marriage, a qualified terminable interest trust can be an effective solution. This designation of trust allows the surviving spouse to receive annual income from the trust and withdraw principal for specific purposes like health, support, education, and maintenance. It also grants you the power to choose where any remaining assets are allocated upon the death of your spouse.
In blended families, as seen on Modern Family, there are a variety of options for inheritance distribution. As Jay prepares his estate plan, it is important for him to consider how he wishes to divide his assets among his family members. This includes his spouse, two adult children from a previous marriage, a minor son, and an adult stepson, as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He will need to make decisions regarding the distribution of assets, including the beneficiaries, the amount, and the timing of the distribution. He will need to consider whether it would be more beneficial to provide for his current spouse, Gloria, through a trust during her lifetime, with the remainder going to his other children, Claire, Mitchell, and Joe upon her death — or if his children should receive their portion of the inheritance while Gloria is still alive. Additionally, he will need to decide if he wants to provide for his stepson, Joe, or leave that responsibility to Gloria if she survives him.
When formulating an estate plan, it is crucial to consider the legal requirements for providing for a surviving spouse. In certain jurisdictions, there is a mandated minimum inheritance, known as the elective share, that must be allocated to the surviving spouse. Additionally, in states with community property laws, a surviving spouse may be entitled to a portion of assets acquired during the marriage. While one may assume that their spouse can support themselves without an inheritance, it is essential to have open and thorough discussions about estate planning, and document any agreements to ensure that the surviving spouse's rights and needs are protected. Without proper planning and documentation, a surviving spouse may unhinge the distribution of assets if they have not been taken into consideration within the estate plan, and haven’t waved their minimum inheritance rights.
Phil and Claire will need to evaluate their familial situation and devise a plan to distribute their assets and financial assets among their children and grandchildren. Given the distinct characteristics of their three children, it is important to consider each of their individual needs. For example, Haley, as a mother of two, may require a larger portion of the inheritance to support her children. Phil and Claire may elect to set aside a specific fund for their grandchildren. Alex is very smart and her education or employment opportunities may not require as much financial support. Luke, on the other hand, may benefit from trust money to pursue his business ventures and protect him from impulsive decisions.
An estate plan is a valuable tool for ensuring the protection of assets and financial resources for families of all sizes and backgrounds, not only those depicted in television series. The estate planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader are dedicated to collaborating with families to develop a personalized plan that reflects the unique characteristics woven into each one. Reach out to our knowledgeable staff to see how we can assist your modern family with a financial plan for the future.
For the Reno snowbirds out there, the first snow of the season often signals that it’s time to move to a second residence with a warmer climate. While this move may seem innocent enough, there are a few legal matters to consider before locking up the house and heading south. One of the matters in question is which state you consider ‘home’.
Your state of domicile is where your permanent, principal residence is located. It affects family law matters, estate planning, and of course taxes. It is possible to be a resident of multiple states, but you can only call one your state of domicile. There are some subtle differences in state domiciliary laws, but usually, it’s were you live a large portion of the time and return to after going elsewhere.
For those who split time between multiple US states, it’s important to review your tax records with an advisor to ensure you are filing them correctly, and are maximizing use of tax laws. For instance, if you pay taxes in Nevada, you already know you’re among the seven states that do not have personal income tax.
Before heading south, take a look at your estate plan documents. It’s easy to glance over life events that may have happened recently, but they can affect how you want your wishes to be carried out. Keeping your estate plan current is a habit everyone should get into, as it ensures a seamless transition of your legacy. Ask yourself the following questions to help:
You may also need help with transactions and other financial matters while away from your domicile. That’s why it is important to determine whether your financial power of attorney is ‘springing’ or ‘immediate’. A springing financial / medical power of attorney means your agent can only step in and take action when you are no longer able to do so. On the other hand, an immediate financial / medical power of attorney means your agent can act on your behalf right away, even if you are able to take action yourself.
The knowledgeable team at Anderson, Dorn & Rader can help you determine which designation your estate specifies, and aid in performing changes if desired.
As you prepare for your upcoming travel, please do not hesitate to give Anderson, Dorn & Rader a call. We are here to answer any questions and to make sure you are properly protected no matter where you may roam. We are available to meet with you in person or via video conference. To schedule a meeting, call us at (775) 823-WILL (9455) or fill out our contact form. We look forward to meeting you!
If you are the executor (personal representative) of a will, or the designated trustee of their trust passes away, it’s your legal duty to act in the best interests and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the trust according to the terms laid out by the benefactor.
*The roles of executor and trustee can be listed under the umbrella term: fiduciary, so we’ll refer to both as such throughout the blog. There are various reasons why you, the fiduciary may not be able to locate a beneficiary of the will or trust. Maybe you lost touch, or perhaps you had a falling out. What should you do in this situation?
When you were bestowed with a fiduciary role, it became your legal obligation to use reasonable diligence in attempting to locate the missing beneficiary. The definition of “reasonable” can depend on individual scenarios like the monetary value of the assets, and what actions have been made in attempting to contact the missing beneficiary.
To start, you as the fiduciary should call the missing beneficiary’s last known phone number, then send a notice that the estate / trust is being administered to their latest address on file. If you get no response from these initial touch points, try contacting their family members and friends for any information they may have on their whereabouts. Social media can also be a powerful tool, as well as people-locating sites on the internet. It also can’t hurt to conduct a property search via government websites, which often show official home records like deeds.
If the assets being distributed are not monetarily significant, you as the fiduciary won’t be required to shell out copious amounts of the trust’s money to try and locate the missing beneficiary. On the other hand, if the assets are of a significant amount, you may have to take further actions to attempt to locate the absent beneficiary to meet the threshold for ‘reasonable diligence’. These can include hiring a P.I. (private investigator) or utilizing an heir search specialist.
Believe it or not, there’s are services dedicated to finding missing beneficiaries. By utilizing estate investigators and genealogists, heir search specialists are able to comb through vast swathes of the country – and worldwide – to find potential heirs. They do so thanks to access to records like birth, death, marriage, and adoption records.
Heir search specialists do cost money, but can provide peace of mind that the person receiving distributions from the trust is, in fact, who they say they are. Unfortunately, there are instances where people pretend to be estranged heirs, so it’s important to confirm identities before any money from the trust is handed over.
If your efforts in hiring a search specialist still don’t turn up the beneficiary you’re looking for, it’s possible to petition the court asking permission to distribute a preliminary amount of property and money to the beneficiaries who have been successfully located. It’s likely that the court will order that the assets be held in the trust for a period of time (this varies by state) so the missing beneficiary has a reasonable amount of time to come forth and claim it. Another option is to obtain indemnity insurance, which covers you in the scenario where a previously un-located beneficiary appears and asks for their portion of the trust after it’s been distributed.
Tracking down an estranged beneficiary can take significant resources and lead to a prolonged asset distribution process. Additionally, the beneficiaries already located can often become impatient while time lapses. For these matters, it can benefit you to hire a legal professional with experience handling the known beneficiaries’ demands while still abiding by state regulations and protecting the trust’s best interests.
In the event where a beneficiary cannot be located, even after your due diligence efforts, it’s best to have a legal professional’s guidance when petitioning the court for a preliminary asset distribution to known beneficiaries. It saves time, and ensures legal compliance.
Becoming a fiduciary of a will or trust is an honor that comes with large responsibilities including carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Thankfully, you do not have to navigate challenging situations alone. By leaning on the extensive experience of the attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, your unique circumstances can be handled to provide a positive outcome for all parties involved. When you need estate administration assistance, our team will be ready. Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, and we’ll ensure your role as the fiduciary is maximized while honoring loved ones in the process.
Trust laws exist not only to safeguard the trust and trustor, but to also set guidelines for trustees to abide by. A trustee has a duty under the law to communicate with beneficiaries and inform them of progress or changes in the trust administration. Some duties of the trustee include giving beneficiaries a copy of trust documents, providing information and timelines of the trust administration, and preparing an annual accounting synopsis of the trust’s income and expenses.
It’s not uncommon for trustees to leave beneficiaries in the dark regarding new trust information. Some trustees are unaware of their duties under the law and believe they can do what they please with the trust. However, this is typically not the case, and if your trustee is unresponsive to your requests for information, you have every right to seek further action. Below are some things for you to consider when wondering how to handle an unresponsive trustee.
How do you try to contact your trustee? Is it through email? Do you try to call? Have you sent a letter through the mail? It could be very possible that your trustee simply isn’t checking in on all of their inboxes all the time. A trustee who simply doesn’t check their email regularly may respond quicker to a phone call or text message. If you’re not getting response through phone or texts, you could try sending them a formal letter.
You should also consider the relationship you and the trustee have with each other. If communication typically escalates into hostility between you two, it’s possible that the trustee may be avoiding you on purpose, even though this goes against their duties to keep all beneficiaries informed. If you cannot speak civilly in person or over the phone, it’s important that you keep all communication in writing. Just be sure to ask your questions very clearly and request information without accusations. If this still doesn’t work and your trustee remains unresponsive, it may be time to seek legal assistance.
An attorney may be involved in trust communication between beneficiaries and trustees in one of two ways. Most trustees have attorneys who represent them. If you’re having a hard time getting a hold of the trustee, try contacting their lawyer instead. If a trustee is oblivious to their duties under law, an attorney can ensure they are made aware of their responsibilities and encourage the trustee to comply. Some trustees may not want to directly communicate with beneficiaries of the trust, in which case their attorney may be the direct point of contact. To get information via a trustee’s attorney, be sure to follow up your initial call or text with the requests you wish to receive and any attempts you have made to contact the trustee.
If you feel a lack of proper representation in a situation like this, you may also seek out your own attorney. They’ll be able to clearly identify your rights as a beneficiary, and will give you the backup you need to enforce them. It’s always a good idea to have an objective intermediary that can assist in getting you the information you are rightfully entitled to.
If you and your attorney are still being met with no response, then your last option is to file a petition with your local court. Before you do this though, you should confirm that your attorney is familiar with trust laws and administration. This can make or break your petition’s success. If the trustee fails to respond to the petition, the court can then remove the trustee from the trust. This might also make the trustee liable for any losses or damages the beneficiaries experienced as a result of their lack of communication and ability to perform their duties. A court petition gives additional resources like subpoenas, depositions, and requests for documents to help you get the information you’re seeking. This should be used as the last method for handling an unresponsive trustee, as it can be costly and emotionally messy.
Trustees can conjure various reasons for being unresponsive, but they are legally obligated to communicate with and provide beneficiaries with certain information regarding the trust. Before you go filing a petition right away, try another method of contacting the trustee. If a phone call isn’t working, try an email or maybe send a letter instead. If this still doesn’t garner any results, involve an attorney. They will help get the ball rolling and will likely encourage the trustee to come forward with their information. Only as a last result should a petition be filed with your local court.
If you have any questions regarding how to contact an unresponsive trustee, be sure to reach out to the reliable and experienced trust attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader. We’re happy to help you get the information from the trust administration that you are entitled to, and are dedicated to providing the highest quality estate planning resources available.
In general, the answer is yes; your trust can own your business after you die. But taking a deeper look into this matter, some factors may affect your individual situation. Both the type of business you own (LLC, Partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship), as well as how your business is currently managed can determine how the trust obtains ownership and continues operations after you pass. We’ll explore these determining factors here:
Once the trust has obtained ownership of your business, there are factors that affect how it will be managed after you are gone. The first factor is the type of business that has been transferred (which we explored above). The other is the way the business was managed prior to the transfer of ownership.
As is the theme with trust transfers, the terms will determine whether income is distributed to beneficiaries. The trust is entitled to receive income or distribute profit distributions to owners or stockholders.
In the case that your business is taxed as an S corporation, there are unique circumstances under which someone can own the S corporation after your death. Prior to transferring ownershipof trust assets, consult a qualified attorney or financial professional.
As discussed, there are many factors to consider and navigate when transferring business ownership before you die. Overall, it depends heavily on the type of business you are operating, as well as how it is currently being managed. Therefore, it’s a great idea to consult with professionals to properly consider every factor and complete the transfer of ownership with confidence. It can be daunting, but Anderson, Dorn & Rader is here to help!
Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, the trusted team of Nevada Wealth Counselors, to properly transfer ownership of your business before you pass.
Q: What is Probate?
A: Probate is designed to create a “final accounting” upon death. It is the legal process of “proving up” a Will, or verifying that a Will is valid, takes place in one of two instances. First, if a person dies leaving behind a Will, or second, if the deceased has died intestate, that is, has not left behind a Will or estate plan of any type or the Will cannot be found.
Q: Does the Probate process take a long time?
A: Depending on the complexity of the estate and the thoroughness with which accounting has been carried out before death, probate can either be a relatively simple task or a daunting one. Be aware that no matter the situation, probate may be a lengthy process often taking months or possibly years to play out, and one which may take a considerable amount of an executor’s time.
To summarize the process, probate can be broken into six basic steps:
Each of these steps involve legal documentation and validation, and more importantly, proper accounting each step of the way.
Q : What is Probate Court?
A: Probate begins and ends with the special Probate Court set up in each state to handle estate issues. (Sometimes known as the Orphan’s or Chancery Court in certain states.) All actions taken regarding the estate are accountable to this court, and must be noted and reported regularly. This court is staffed by special judges qualified to oversee estate resolution issues.
Q: Does the Trust Administration process take a long time?
A: To summarize the process, trust administration can be broken into five basic steps:
Although the trust administration process seems relatively straightforward, there are several reasons it can sometimes be drawn out over several months or even years. The first step, the inventory of assets, must be completed before the trust administration can begin, and this can be difficult to complete depending upon the prior organization and the size and complexity of the decedent’s assets. Next, the 706 estate tax return must be filed within 9 months, or 15 months if an extension is filed. Often, it is prudent to wait until the last minute to file this form. If the spouse of the decedent is in failing health and may pass away before the deadline, then both 706 forms can be used to maximize tax advantages to the estate. The final step, asset distribution, cannot take place until the 706 has been filed, and even then should not take place until the “Closing Letter” is received from the IRS certifying acceptance of the 706 return. This closing letter will take a minimum of 6 to 8 months, and as long as 3 years, to arrive after the 706 is filed. In addition, there may be a state estate or inheritance tax return required, even if a federal return is not required.
Q: I thought that a living trust avoids probate and attorney fees. Why do I have to pay more fees?
A: While having a living trust can significantly reduce costs compared to probate, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done in properly administering even a simple living trust. The services of an attorney are required, and that person or firm should be compensated fairly for their services. It is important to remember that the fees allowed for trust administration are usually much lower than those for probate, and there is generally less work involved, as there is less involvement of the courts and state bureaucracy.
Q: Can I pick and choose what assets go into the “B” trust?
A: The answer depends upon the language of the trust document. Certain trusts include “pick and choose” language that allows trustees to selectively place assets into the “B” trust.
Q: How do I transfer the car(s) into my name?A: If you are a relative of the deceased, this is simple in most states. To transfer the title of vehicles owned by the deceased, simply take the death certificate to the DMV, and perform the transfer, paying whatever fees they require. If not a relative, bringing along the will and or any trust documents indicating your status should be sufficient.
Q: What do I do about Social Security?
A: Social Security will continue to send out benefit checks until they are notified of an individual’s death. The executor/spouse/trustee should contact the local Social Security Administration office and notify them of the death, or if a benefit check is received, send it back with a letter notifying them. This is important. If checks continue to be deposited, the recipient can incur liability later when Social Security learns of the recipient’s death.
The idea of estate planning might be one of the scariest things you have to confront as an adult. After all, nobody wants to think about their death. Or incapacity. But estate planning does not have to make chills run down your spine. On the contrary! Estate planning is empowering for both you and your family and allows you to live confidently knowing that things will be taken care of in the event of your passing or incapacity. Remember, estate planning is not just for the ultra-rich. If you own anything or have young children, you should have an estate plan. Read below to find out reasons why.
Proper estate planning accomplishes many things. It puts your financial affairs in order. Parents should designate a guardian for their minor or disabled children, so the children are cared for by someone who shares your values and parenting style. Homeowners can make sure their property is transferred to the proper beneficiary in the event of untimely death. Business owners can ensure the enterprise they’ve worked so hard to build stays within the family.
Yet, according to WealthCounsel’s 2016 Estate Planning Literacy Survey, only 40% of Americans have a will and just 17% have a trust in place. This means a majority of American families not being adequately protected against the eventual certainty of death or the potential for legal incapacity.
When it comes to estate planning, knowledge is vital. Less than 50 percent of those surveyed by WealthCounsel understood that an estate plan can be used to address several concerns - financial or non-financial matters - including health decisions and guardianship, avoiding court and preempting family conflicts, protecting an inheritance for your beneficiaries, as well as taking advantage of business and tax benefits.
Legal disputes over estate plans and wills - or, usually, the lack of having these in place at all - are common. These conflicts can cause harm to family relationships and be financially burdensome. Disputes among the rich-and-famous often made headlines, but disputes among everyday folk stay buried in courts for years.
Some scary outcomes of inadequate or non-existent estate planning include:
These horror stories are not limited to wealthy celebrities. WealthCounsel’s survey found that more than one-third of respondents know someone who has experienced, or have themselves suffered, family disputes due to the failure of an existing estate plan or inadequate will. Additionally, more than half of those who have established an estate plan did so to reduce family conflict. Preserving family harmony is for everyone - not only for the wealthy or celebrities.
Estate planning can be confusing as each circumstance is unique and requires different tools to achieve the best possible outcome. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed by WealthCounsel said estate planning was a confusing topic and valued professional guidance in learning more - so you’re not alone if you aren’t sure where to begin.
We’re here to help. An estate planning attorney is essential in determining the best way to structure your will, trust, and estate plan to fit your needs. If you or someone you know has questions about where to begin - contact us today. Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. has been protecting families and their legacies for decades. We offer free, no-obligation Webinars every month around Northern Nevada to teach and guide people about how to plan appropriately for these inevitable issues.
A trust is meant to work as a part of your estate plan as a means to avoid probate, minimize estate tax liability, and protect the inheritance for your beneficiaries. To put it in simple terms, a trust is basically a fiduciary agreement between the Trustor (the person or persons that create the trust) and a Trustee. The nature of a trust agreement is to authorize the Trustee to hold and manage the trust assets on behalf of the named beneficiaries. The trust's terms will provide the necessary instructions for managing and distributing the assets upon the incapacity or death of the Trustor. There are several different types of trusts, each with its own specific purpose. Nevertheless, there are three essential steps in creating any trust.
The trust agreement is the document that provides the Trustee with instructions as to how you want the property held in trust to be handled for your beneficiaries. It is the "who, what, and when" of the trust. The trust agreement is a contract, which is binding on the Trustee that you have chosen to manage the trust property. There is a reason this agreement is called a "trust" - it is an agreement based on confidence and reliance. Some of the basic provisions that should be included in any trust are:
Once the trust agreement has been created, the next step is to "fund" the trust. Funding is the process of transferring ownership of the assets that you intend to include in the trust. This involves changing the title on bank accounts to the name of the trust, re-titling vehicles in the name of the trust, recording a deed transferring real property to the trust, and/or naming the trust as the beneficiary of life insurance policies.
Under Nevada law, a trust only exists to the extent it owns assets - thus a trust agreement isn't worth the paper it's printed on unless the trust has been properly funded. This is the also the key aspect of avoiding probate upon your death; if a trust is not properly funded, a probate judge is required to transfer legal title of assets to your beneficiaries.
There are generally four ways in a trust is funded:
Assets such as bank accounts, non-retirement investment and brokerage accounts, stocks and bonds held in certificate form, vehicles, and real estate can be funded into a trust by simply changing the owner of the asset from the name of the Trustor to the name of the trust itself.
When the trust assets include personal property of the type that does not require a certificate of legal title (e.g., jewelry, artwork, antiques), the assets can be funded by simply assigning ownership to the trust. This would also include things like personal loans, royalties, copyrights and patents, partnership interests, and membership interests in limited liability companies.
For those assets that require a beneficiary, you can fund your trust by naming the trust as the beneficiary of those accounts or policies. Note, however, that it might be recommended to leave certain outside outside of the trust and to name your beneficiaries directly. This is most common the case with qualified retirement accounts in order to minimize the income tax of your beneficiaries and to allow for greater flexibility in managing those assets. You should consult with an attorney as to whether it is better to name the trust as the beneficiary.
If a Trustor does not transfer assets to a trust during their lifetime,a trust may be funded through probate. In this situation, a Testator transfers assets to a trust through their Last Will and Testament (also called a "Pour Over Will") by instructing a probate judge to transfer those assets into the trust. This is generally not recommended since it requires both a probate proceeding and trust administration.
After the trust is created and funded, then the final step is to settle the trust. This only occurs after the death of the Trustor. Once you pass away, your Trustee has an obligation to follow the terms of the trust that pertain to handling your property after your death. Since a properly drafted trust does not require any court involvement, the administration of a trust can be kept completely confidential.
Many companies and advisers are more than willing to "sell" you a trust as a means to promote some other goal. There can be many complex issues involved in creating a trust, which an estate planning attorney would be much better equipped at handling. Depending on the complexity of the terms of the trust agreement, the extent and nature of the assets, and the potential complexities of the family, an attorney can address these concerns and can assist with all three essential steps of creating a trust. Here are some special considerations that you should make when creating your trust:
All of these issues can be addressed as a part of your trust agreement. Your trust can be created for your benefit immediately and for your beneficiaries to receive after you pass away.
If you have questions regarding creating a trust, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.
Performing the duties of a trustee after the death of a loved one is an important duty. The good news is, you aren’t expected to start working immediately, because the tasks required of you are not of an emergency nature. However, within a month or so, you will need to start performing some of the preliminary tasks. This article will provide some basic information so you can survive your first six months as a trustee.
How long will it take to distribute the property?
Depending on the complexity of the trust provisions and the nature of the assets, you may be able to get all of your work done in approximately six months. However, if you have been called upon to administer an ongoing trust (such as a trust for minor children), then there will be continuous tasks. Still, most of the preliminary work can be accomplished in about six months.
How to get started as a Trustee
You may or may not be serving as the executor of the estate, as well as the trustee. If someone else is the executor, then you should stay in contact with that person during the first few months of your service. Typically, the executor will initiate a probate proceeding if it is required to ultimately transfer the estate’s assets to the trust.
The first few steps
Whether you are dealing with a simple trust estate or a complex one, here are the first few steps to fulfill your duties.
Handling Social Security Payments
The first thing to know is that you are required to return any payment received from Social Security for the month of your loved one's death, regardless of when in the month the death occurred. If your loved one died on the last day of the month, you must still return the entire amount of the payment. However, the payments are typically made for the prior month. So, the check for April would arrive in early May. If the social security payments are deposited directly into your loved one’s bank account you should keep the account open for a few months in order to allow social security to deduct the payment.
Your success at completing your duties will depend on your ability to keep organized. After marshaling all trust assets you should pay debts and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries after providing an accounting that is approved by all beneficiaries. You should track all income and expenses for the trust for the accounting period (typically from date of death to date of distribution). The accounting system you use does not need to be complicated but you may want to invest in basic accounting software. A fiduciary income tax return is generally required if the income generated by the trust exceeds $600.00. Your estate planning attorney can assist you with completing all of your duties and limiting your exposure to liability.
If you have questions regarding trustee responsibilities, or any other trust administration issues, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.
The basic purpose of a trust in estate planning is to minimize estate taxes and avoid probate. What is a trust, exactly? It is a fiduciary agreement (one based on confidence and trust) between a trustee and the grantor (maker) of the trust.
The agreement authorizes the trustee to hold and manage the trust assets on behalf of the beneficiaries, and provides specific instructions on how to manage and distribute those assets. There are many different types of trusts, each with their own specific purposes or goals. So, how well do you know your trusts? Let’s find out.
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If you have recently been notified that you were named as a beneficiary in someone’s will, you may be curious about the probate process that will take place. Probate is a court process that can be lengthy, depending on the size and nature of the decedent’s estate. The court must first appoint a personal representative for the estate, and many other steps must be taken before the estate’s assets can be distributed to you and the other beneficiaries. Once all assets have been liquidated, how long does it take to distribute estate assets? There is no definitive answer to that question, but being familiar with some of the factors that affect the Nevada probate process can give you an idea of what to expect.
You may not have even considered that the location of the court handling the probate proceedings would have an impact on the length of the process. But, depending on how busy the court’s docket or calendar is, closing probate could take a long time. For example, courts located in crowded metropolitan areas will typically have a larger docket, which means it make take longer to get your probate matter scheduled. The opposite may be true for courts that serve smaller populations. The law requires that an estate must be probated in the jurisdiction of the decedent’s last primary residence.
One primary factor that affects the length of the probate process is the size and complexity of the estate. A large estate that has a variety of assets, such as real property, investment accounts, businesses and residences, will typically take much longer to complete the probate process. Also, the claims of all creditors against the estate must be heard by the court. Each has a right to a hearing, as well as to filing motions, as necessary. If there are any disputes regarding claims, the probate process will be extended.
In addition to the possibility of creditor hearings, if there are any disputes among the beneficiaries, the probate process will take longer. Estate law requires that all named beneficiaries be notified of the will, either by mail or personal service. Each beneficiary has a legal right to representation in probate court, as well as the right to have the court hear any motions to challenge or change the terms of the will. This means that beneficiaries will hire attorneys, who will collect evidence and bring it before the court to decide the disputes. If any beneficiaries live out of state, the process may take even longer.
Now, if you are the beneficiary of a trust, as opposed to a will, then it is very likely that there will be no need to go through the probate process to receive your inheritance. In that situation, you should be able to claim your inheritance quickly. The most common types of non-probated assets are those created by contracts and trusts, such as life insurance policies and annuities.
If you have questions regarding the probate process, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.
In Nevada, if the deceased person's assets exceed $20,000, or if there is real estate involved, probate is normally required.
Topics covered in this whitepaper include:
Possibly one of the most important decisions you make concerning your trust is who will serve as your trustee. The trustee has a duty to comply with the terms of your trust. These duties include distributions of income and principal, making prudent investment decisions, managing real property and exercising discretionary authority. While it is common for parents to name a child or trusted friend, there are other choices, such corporate trustees. The benefits of a corporate trustee should not be overlooked.
Why should I choose a corporate trustee?
A corporate trustee is a highly trained professional that can offer experience, stability, objectivity, and confidentiality. Most are insured and bonded. Also, many corporate trustees belong to a team of professionals from various disciplines that can assist and advise the corporate trustee on issues that might arise concerning the administration of your trust.
The trustee you select will be responsible for the financial well-being of the trust estate. This includes investment of trust assets. Your trustee must feel comfortable making investment decisions or choosing and supervising an investment manager, weighing and evaluating requests for distributions, which sometimes means making hard decisions. If your trustee is a relative or friend they may not possess the investment know-how or backbone to say no to a beneficiary's request for a distribution.
Your trustee must also be capable of maintaining adequate records, including accounting for the receipt and disbursement of income and principal from the trust. The trustee must also prepare and file all tax returns to the appropriate taxing authorities. A corporate trustee will keep abreast of the ever-changing tax laws and trust reporting and administration standards.
A primary purposes of stablishing a trust is to prepare for the future. So, it is important to remember that, over time, age or illness could potentially prevent your trustee from performing his or her duties. Although a successor trustee could also be named in your trust agreement, having the stability and continuity that a corporate trustee will provide, may be a preferred option.
The reality is, even in the perfect family, relationships can sometimes become strained. While your trust might be carefully written to explain your intentions and provide clear instructions, it may be difficult for a child or friend to avoid disputes and act objectively. With a corporate trustee, on the other hand, an objective third person will make decisions free from bias or influence from family or friends.
Estate planning is inherently a delicate topic. Family relationships, financial status and other private matters are commonly involved. For most clients confidentiality is very important. The temptation of a trustee that is a relative or friend to discuss your private affairs may be too great. Inadvertent disclosures are also common with inexperienced trustees. You can be sure that a corporate trustee with keep your private matters confidential.
If you have questions regarding corporate trustees, or any other estate planning issues, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.