If you have children or young loved ones you hold close, you can make a large impact on their development by sharing knowledge to help them succeed in life. January is National Mentoring Month, and there’s no better time to help mentees form goals that will put them ahead of the curve.
Usually when estate planning is mentioned, we default to the notion that it only relates to a person passing, or when someone is preparing to transfer assets to loved ones. While these scenarios are definitely part of estate planning, it also involves the development of good habits throughout your whole adult life. This is where mentoring comes in. Teaching your children and other young family members the value of financial and estate planning now can help them in the long run. Here are some ways you can implement teachings and set them up for success:
Start by teaching them the importance of setting goals and how to set them for themselves. For instance, if they want to start a business or pay for college in the future, help them set up a savings or investment account and incentivize regular deposits by matching a portion of their contributions. If they want to give to a charitable cause, match their donations to encourage them. By helping them achieve their goals through their own efforts, they will learn valuable lessons and benefit from the experience. Share your own experiences and lessons learned when pursuing similar goals to further aid in their success.
For example, if you plan to pass on a family cabin to your children, give them information on how to maintain it and create a schedule for taking care of it. Share your knowledge and experience you gained caring for it growing up. If you and your siblings were responsible for the cabin growing up, teach them the best ways you found to work together as a team to care for the property. Along with providing practical information, share personal stories and memories about your own experiences at the cabin to communicate its importance and why you want them to have similar positive experiences once it’s passed down to the next generation.
Share the lessons you learned from your parents about saving money or contributing to good causes. If you have developed money management skills that have helped you build a significant estate and benefit your family and others, invest time in teaching those skills to your mentee. Similarly, if you have found effective ways to evaluate the credibility of charities and make responsible donations, share that knowledge with your mentee so they can make informed decisions. Emphasize to your mentee how these skills have positively impacted your life and the lives of others to stress their importance and the value of learning them.
Mentoring in a creative way allows you to pass on more than just your assets to your loved ones. You can also share your core values, skills and experiences gained from putting them into practice. If you wish to leave a lasting legacy for your family and loved ones by creating or updating your life plan, reach out to Anderson, Dorn & Rader for help.
Tune into any major news outlet and you’ll hear about the rise – and tumultuous market behavior – of cryptocurrency. As with any other investment that fluctuates with market activities, there are risks associated with buying and selling. No matter how savvy you may be, if you’re investing in crypto, you need an asset protection plan. The following stories show just that.
Christopher Matthews was a businessman and investor who came from good money on both his mother and father’s sides of the family. He passed away in March 2018, and at that time, his estate was valued at $180 million. A large chunk of that came from a hearty $1.8 million investment in cryptocurrency. He bought his shares through a company we’ll call Wayve.
Matthews death was sudden, and as a result, his estate plan was outdated and didn’t reflect his cryptocurrency trading. After some phone calls with Wayve, it was found that the logins to his crypto accounts were kept on several devices throughout the country, and under other names as well.
Luckily, Wayve worked with Matthews’ lawyers to grant access to these accounts, though this isn’t always the case for account holders with less financial esteem. Even though Matthews’ estate attorneys caught a break with the accessing the accounts, they weren’t as fortunate in distributing the Wayze funds in a timely manner. It was critical that the accounts be liquidated to pay off outstanding debts and other tax obligations.
However, Matthews had a withstanding agreement with Wayze that put a cap on how many cryptocurrency shares could be sold at once. This agreement set back the distribution of affairs because the shares had to be sold over the course of several months. While this allocation process was going on, the remaining money in Matthews’ crypto account values began to plummet (thanks to a large dip in the market). By the end of the allocation process, the accounts lost about two thirds of their value, dropping the total value of the estate to less than half of what it was at the time of Matthews’ death.
Matthews’ surviving benefactors would have been in much better financial shape if he had disclosed his crypto trading activities with the individuals involved in his estate. Essentially, they would have been able to sell off shares sooner and reap the benefits of his investments. Instead, the market dip wiped out a large portion of the investments. Furthermore, an actionable plan should have been in place to avoid relying on the cryptocurrency investments to pay off the outstanding debts in the first place.
Steven Thompson was in tune with the latest trends and became an early Bitcoin investor. He even shared this knowledge with online followers in a 2011 video, which earned him 7,000 Bitcoin. Steve set up a digital hard drive with the company SteelLock to store his Bitcoin – in other words, a digital wallet.
It’s been over a decade since Steven set up his SteelLock, and he’s been busy mining Bitcoin ever since. Unfortunately, he’s forgotten the password that he initially used to configure it, and SteelLock only allows 5 wrong attempts before locking the account. To date, his portfolio amounts to well over $100 million. Unless he can remember the login credentials, he’ll never get to see or sell the money accrued.
The key takeaway is that accounts requiring a password need to be secure, but should also have a backup to enable access in the event of a forgotten password or estate distribution. It’s good practice to establish a plan at the onset of investment activities, because before you know it, a decade of investments will accrue and you may just forget your password when it’s needed most.
Jeff Connely was a Bitcoin miner who died doing what he loved – flying his Cessna in the Alaskan Bush. He was only 26 years old when he passed, and at that time, he owned a sizeable share of Bitcoin. The problem? No one, not even his parents or close friends, knew where he stored it, how much he owned, or how to access it.
The amount he owned would have been a nice influx of money that his loved ones could have managed after his passing. But since he didn’t share the details with his family, the shares he owned, and total amount of funds, went with him in the plane crash. Relatives may be able to estimate your net worth and property assets after your death by sifting through email, bank statements, or physical paperwork at your residence, but this is especially difficult to do with Bitcoin.
It’s not always obvious to loved ones that Bitcoin assets are a serious investment and may be worth an astonishing amount. That’s why a plan needs to be put in place. Let a trustworthy person in your network in on the details of your cryptocurrency activities, and how to access them should the unthinkable happen. Not only that, it’s smart to include details on how you want assets to be used when you’re gone. If you don’t do this, you’re putting your hard-earned investments up to the whims of how much documentation you left behind, and how easily loved ones can access it.
Cryptocurrency is a powerful investment tool that can be leveraged to one’s advantage and build generational wealth. It’s also very new to many of us, so working out a management strategy can be uncharted territory. To be prepared for the unexpected, lean on the knowledge of our estate planning professionals. We can craft a sound cryptocurrency plan to protect you and your loved ones. Whether you’re a seasoned crypto investor, or are considering just diving in, we encourage you to reach out to our advisors to 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!
The days are flying by, and before you know it, the New Year will be here. Plan ahead and fine-tune your gift giving before the holiday chaos ensues. It’s possible to make annual, medical, and educational exclusion gifts that aren’t technically considered as such under federal gift tax law.
Annual exclusion gifts are one type that you can give that do not trigger federal gift tax. For the year 2022, the gift tax threshold is $16,000 per person. That is expected to increase to $17,000 in 2023.
With annual exclusion gifts, assets amounting to $16,000 or less that are given to an individual within the calendar year are not considered gifts (for tax purposes at least – the recipients will still be thankful!).
Hypothetically, that means you can gift assets amounting to $16,000 or less to as many individuals you’d like up to December 31st of this year, then follow that gifting criteria again for the same recipients on January 1st, 2023 without having to file them under federal gift tax law.
Some sources may indicate that married couples are able to effectively double the annual exclusion amount ($32,000 per calendar year). Even if a married couple abides by this threshold, in some cases they may still be required to file a gift tax return. We recommend consulting our estate planning services to see if you need to report these “split gifts”, as they’re referred to.
Qualified medical exclusion payments / gifts are another type of transfer that aren’t considered ‘gifts’ under federal tax law.
To take advantage of medical exclusions, one must make a payment directly to a healthcare institution or medical insurance provider. Generally, this exclusion can be applied to any medical expense qualifying for a deduction under federal income tax guidelines.
For instance, you could have given $20,000 to the hospital that your grandchild was treated in for an emergency procedure earlier in the year, then give the same grandchild up to an additional $16,000 amount before December 31st, 2022. You could even go as far as to gift another $16,000 on January 1st, 2023. Even in this extreme example, these gifts would not trigger the federal gift tax threshold, as long as they are accounted for and transferred with the exclusions in mind.
An important note: the medical exclusion gift / payment must be made directly to the medical institution or medical insurance provider, not the individual receiving the medical care or insurance money. Even if the payment is “earmarked”, the patient cannot touch it, or the federal tax law will kick in and consider it a gift.
Gifted assets that meet the criteria of educational exclusions are another type of transfer that aren’t considered ‘gifts’ under federal tax law. This includes qualifying payments made directly to both domestic and foreign institutions.
So hypothetically, you could pay for your grandchild’s emergency procedure (referenced above), pay for their educational tuition amounting to $25,000, give them an additional $16,000 by December 31st, then give them $16,000 on January 1st, 2023. That’d be one thankful grandchild, and you likely wouldn’t trigger any federal gift tax returns.
Remember two things before initiating an educational exclusion gift: First, the payment must be made directly to the educational institution, not to the individual enrolled. Next, the payment can only be put towards tuition. Not supplies, books, dorm payments, or other related educational expenses.
It can be exciting to gift money and property to loved ones. After all, they will carry on your legacy in the future. While it’s tempting to simply transfer it to the recipient’s bank account, consider the guidelines surrounding annual, medical, and educational exclusion gifts to avoid the burden of taxes and maximize your financial picture. For assistance in doing so, contact the experienced Reno estate planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader. We are happy to walk you through the process to make it enjoyable for all parties involved.
You’re probably familiar with federal taxes, especially if you see the line item deduction on your check each pay period corresponding to ‘federal income tax’. Fewer people are aware of other types of taxes though, such as capital gains taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes, and perhaps the most overlooked: the generation-skipping transfer tax.
The federal generation-skipping transfer tax (GST) comes into effect when an individual transfers property to another individual at least two generations down from them. These transfers usually involve gifts given from grandparents to grandchildren and/or their descendants. However, the GST tax can also be triggered by gifts given to unrelated individuals (not including the individual’s spouse).
The GST tax is effective for gifts transferred both during the grandparents’ lifetimes and after their death through an inheritance. The recipients of gifts that trigger the GST tax are commonly referred to as “skip persons”.
The GST was first introduced by Congress in 1976 to eliminate the ability for wealthy people to skip over their children and transfer assets directly to grandchildren, thus avoiding inheritance taxes completely, and estate taxes for the first generation. The GST abides by the gift and estate tax exemption limits, but is a separate tax in itself that applies in correspondence and in addition to any present gift and estate taxes.
Typically, the GST tax comes into effect when the amount transferred to “skip persons” is greater than $12.06 million (a transferor’s lifetime GST tax exemption amount allotted for 2022). The lifetime exemption amount consists of all gifts made throughout the transferor’s lifetime, as well as transfers made at death in the form of wills or trusts.
For instance, if a grandparent gifts $50,000 to each of their 6 grandchildren in 2022, then $300,000 is counted against their lifetime exemption allotment of $12.06 million. If this gift amount is exceeded (both during life & death), a flat 40 percent tax is applied to the overage.
If the child of a grandparent passes away before them, there is an exception to the GST tax. In the case that assets are transferred to a grandchild whose parent has already passed away, the GST tax is not applied. This would not be considered generation skipping, since the grandchild essentially assumes the position of the parent who passed away, facilitating an adjacent generation transfer.
The GST tax also doesn’t apply to medical care or tuition payments transferred directly to a designated institution. In this case, a grandparent could financially assist with a grandchild’s college tuition or medical bills if they give the money directly to the college or hospital.
The vast majority of us do not have to worry about the GST tax structure due to the high lifetime transfer amount of $12.06 million. Even so, it’s smart to be aware of the GST tax, and that the lifetime transfer amount is set to be adjusted to $5 million (to account for inflation) in the year 2026.
Proposals to lower the exemption amount are regularly introduced to Congress. That means the GST tax lifetime amount could change at a moment’s notice. Knowledge of the GST tax is vital if you or a loved one plans to transfer assets to grandchildren.
Additionally, one should keep in mind that, although married couples are essentially granted double the exemption amount, the exemption rules to the GST tax are ‘use or lose it’. It does not work in the same way as the estate tax, where a spouse who passes away can have their unused amount distributed to the surviving spouse. Any unused GST tax lifetime exemption amount evaporates at the time of the first spouse’s death.
This is not an exhaustive explanation of the generation-skipping transfer tax, and you will likely have questions based on your unique situation. The GST is a challenging subject, and few have the experience navigating the laws surrounding it than Anderson, Dorn, & Rader. Our team can assist with any questions if you plan to transfer a property amount sufficient to trigger the GST tax. The best outcome is one that satisfies your desire to pass wealth down to the next generation, so when you’d like to start the conversation on transferring your assets, contact Anderson, Dorn, & Rader: Reno’s trusted estate-planning team.
Generational wealth is often the means by which families retain economic status and live comfortably over time. Family members before you worked throughout their lives to make a living, care for their assets, and pass some of that down to the next generation: you. In the event that you are expecting an inheritance, do you have the proper measures in place to confidently acquire and manage it?
Estate planning plays an integral roll in maximizing an expected inheritance by laying out how it will be used by your family in the future. Expert research analyses predict that the largest transfer of wealth in history will occur over the next several decades. However, with an uncertain economic climate and a trend towards spending over saving, heirs of inheritances often spend, lose, or donate large portions of what they receive. Planning for inherited wealth can help you anticipate and prepare for these instances, while sill protecting the legacy left to you. With an expertly-crafted inheritance plan, you are helping to ensure financial security for you and your family.
Sometimes, our emotions guide our financial decisions, rather than logic. The feelings surrounding the transfer of an inheritance are often unsettling – grief, guilt, anger, confusion. It’s difficult to consider the facts and hard numbers associated with the passing of a loved one. Not to mention, there are lengthy procedures one has to go through to legally confirm the transfer of wealth. It’s important to stay level-headed during the decisions that could affect you and your family’s financial well-being.
An inheritance can be an unexpected stroke of good fortune in a time of loss. Since our brains often classify them as “found” money rather than “earned” money, inheritances don’t tend to be utilized as conservatively as the money we work for. That’s why most inheritances are drained within just five years. A failure to realize the implications of careless spending can get us accustomed to living a lifestyle above our means, only to have it disappear as quickly as it came.
A sudden acquisition of assets and cash can greatly affect you and your family’s life. When handled correctly, you’ll respect the legacy of your loved ones that came before you. When caught unprepared though, you could be burdened by tax payments, careless spending repercussions, and even creditor issues.
Before any pen & paper planning begins, it’s best to have a conversation with your loved ones while they are still living and mentally fit. It can be awkward to talk about what happens to assets after one passes, but go in with the frame of mind that each party will be helping each other. The benefactor will be giving you vital information and consent, and you will be giving them peace of mind that their legacy will live on. By discussing their hopes of how the inheritance will be used after they pass, you’ll get a better understanding which you can use in the planning process.
Using the conversations with loved ones as your guide, it’s crucial to then meet with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to discuss the amount and types of assets you anticipate inheriting. There are nuances to the processes in which you’ll handle various types of assets. For example, inherited real estate is handled much differently than inherited stocks and bonds. An estate planning attorney can also help you understand the distribution schedule to receive the assets. It could be all at once, in installments, or custom-configured based on a will. Not to mention, a financial planner can help you navigate the taxes associated with your inheritance.
Life happens, and a legacy left to you by a loved one can alter the vision of your financial picture. Anderson, Dorn, & Rader are your trusted team of estate planning lawyers and financial planners in Reno.
If your family is expecting an inheritance, wants to update estate plans, or has questions about the planning process, give our office a call so we can help you maximize your windfall and honor the loved ones that worked hard to pass on their good fortune to you.
When a loved one suffers from a mental illness, one small comfort can be knowing that your trust can take care of them through thick and thin. There are some ways this can happen, ranging from the funding of various types of treatment to providing structure and support during his or her times of greatest need.
Let’s explore a few ways you can help take care of a loved one struggling with mental illness with the help of your estate planning attorney:
Trusts can be disbursed in many ways. If your loved one is involved in an inpatient care facility or an ongoing outpatient program, you can structure your trust so that its disbursements cover the costs of that treatment as time goes on. This also helps your loved one because it relieves them of the responsibility of managing large sums of money on their own. They can rest easier knowing that their care is covered without having to set up a complicated payment plan on their own.
In some cases, the person suffering from mental illness doesn’t have the capacity to enroll themselves in the right type of care. If an intervention of care is needed, your trust can also help encourage involuntary treatment that ultimately serves your loved one’s best interests in the long run.
Selecting a trustee isn’t always an easy feat. That’s one of many decision-making areas where we’re more than happy to step in and walk you through the process. When you have a loved one battling mental illness, your choice of a trustee becomes even more of a nuanced decision.
We’ll help you deduce the perfect person to not only manage the wealth contained within the trust but also keep a compassionate watchful eye on your loved one benefitting from the trust. An astute trustee can look for early warning signs surrounding your loved one’s mental health issue and make sure to get them connected to the care and services they need in no time.
Most people don’t think of large inheritances as a burden. But this can be the case when an individual is dealing with depression, anxiety, hoarding, or diseases like schizophrenia. Lifetime trusts are an excellent way to take care of your loved one without saddling them with a challenge on top of what they are already experiencing.
A discretionary lifetime trust can be drafted in such a way that its funds can only be used to go toward certain goods and services — such as outpatient mental health care, housing, or other “necessaries” of life. Likewise, it can also prohibit spending in areas that would cause more harm than good — gambling or compulsive shopping, for example. The discretionary nature of these types of trusts makes it so your loved one doesn’t have to worry about their own potential missteps when it comes to using the wealth contained within the trust.
Do you have a family member or other loved one who could use the financial flexibility and structural support of a trust? Give us a call today, and together we’ll figure out the best ways to enhance your loved one’s life by finding the right estate planning tools to offer the most help.
It is relatively easy to understand how important asset protection planning for Nevada residents can be. Most people want to make sure their assets are protected, including real estate, investments, business interests, and even personal property. Just consider the costs of malpractice, business (E&O), and other forms of liability insurance, which are rapidly increasing. It is certainly important to be preemptive in protecting your assets from potential creditors, whether that is through an insurance policy, homestead, or other asset protection plan. What may be even more important is understanding the most common mistakes in asset protection that Nevada residents should avoid.
One common mistake that many people make is assuming that there is something wrong with creating a plan to protect your assets. Many people feel like they are "hiding assets" or irresponsibly "sheltering" their estate from the reach of creditors. That simply is not true. We are all free to structure our assets in the most advantageous way available, as long as we do so properly and in accordance with the law. The only time that the issue of fraud is raised is when the purpose of an asset protection plan is solely to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors from collecting valid debts. The key is to create your asset protection plan before the creditors' claims arise.
Plan in advance! Another mistake that some individuals make is not taking action to protect their assets until after a problem has arisen. If you've already been sued (or if you know you're about to be sued), it's likely too late to effectively create a plan. The best and most effective asset protection planning is accomplished long before any creditor claims arise. The best time to start an asset protection plan is when you are solvent and not currently facing any threats from existing creditors. The purpose of asset protection planning is to protect from potential future creditors. The sooner you start planning, the more options will be available to you.
One aspect of asset protection planning that is difficult for most people is making a proper determination of who is likely to be a potential creditor. Those who are able to make this determination are better able to make an effective asset protection plan. It is easier to plan when you know exactly what you are planning for. In other words, if you can implement a strategy to protect against certain claims you can more easily limit your exposure to that liability. Some common ways to avoid liability, especially for business owners, include:
You cannot rely on an asset protection plan someone else used. Friends may be well-intentioned, but one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to asset protection planning. Not every protection strategy will work in every case. Any estate planning attorney will tell you – an asset protection plan needs to be developed on a case by case basis. Some people can effectively create an asset protection plan by taking advantage of legal protections under homestead, ERISA, business, and other federal and local laws; still others may need a more complex asset protection trust to deal with potential creditors. Individual needs must be carefully considered when choosing your planning options, so don't use a boilerplate plan and hope that you will be protected. Most likely, you will not.
Many clients have the same misconception, that any type of trust can provide asset protection. That is not the case. First, revocable living trusts do not provide protection for individuals who created the trust simply for that purpose. It is important to remember that, in most states, when the person who has funded the trust is a potential beneficiary, then the assets may not be protected from creditors. However, a properly drafted revocable living trust may be able to add asset protection for surviving spouses and/or other beneficiaries. An irrevocable trust can only protect property that is transferred to the trust as long as there is no evidence of a fraudulent conveyance, and a statutory period of time has passed before a creditor claim arises. Foreign offshore trust accounts have come under scrutiny in United States Courts, recently. Very special care must be given when implementing an asset protection plan that includes an offshore account.
A part of asset protection planning necessarily includes consideration of possible inheritances from relatives, a factor that is often overlooked. Those inheritances must be structured, as well, in order to provide maximum flexibility, as well as, protection against creditors and divorce. An estate plan is a way for you to prepare yourself and your family for what happens after you pass away. An appropriate estate plan can also give you an opportunity to plan for unexpected incapacity. Regardless of how few assets you may have, planning for your family's future is a necessity for everyone.
If you have questions regarding mistakes in asset protection, or any other asset protection 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.
Estate planning involves confronting some sensitive matters. For many people considering marriage, one such issue is the decision to ask your spouse-to-be to enter into a premarital agreement. Those who are entering into a first marriage without a lot of assets and no children may not need a premarital agreement. However, if you're getting remarried after you have enjoyed financial success throughout your life, the decision becomes more complex. This is amplified if you have children from a previous marriage or marriages.
If you are married and live in a community property state like Nevada or California, all earnings and efforts that produce something of value after the marriage are community property. Many people believe that so long as they don't commingle funds and assets remain titled in their sole name that they are protected. This is not the case. While the assets with which you enter a marriage are your sole and separate property, all post-marriage earnings, regardless of where they are deposited or invested, are community property. Our office has handled the administration of several estates where a surviving spouse, or the children of a deceased spouse, brought claims to establish assets titled in the name of the other spouse or his or her estate as community property. In many of these cases assets were diverted to a surviving spouse and/or a deceased spouse's children in contradiction to the intent of the other spouse's estate plan. In addition, many states laws, including Nevada's and California's, allow a spouse to make a number of different claims against the will or trust of a deceased spouse, potentially further frustrating the deceased spouse's estate plan.
To address these problems it is possible to enter into a premarital agreement. Every state has its own requirements for a premarital agreement to be enforceable. In Nevada, it is important that both parties provide a reasonable disclosure of their property and debt. In addition, it is important that both parties are represented by independent legal counsel. The agreement should also be executed as well before the wedding and, and the terms of the agreement should not be unconscionable (i.e., too one-sided). These are just a few of the factors the courts look at to determine the validity of a premarital agreement.
Aside from claims upon the death of a spouse, there is the matter of possible divorce. There is a post on the Psychology Today blog that looks at the high rate of divorce among people who get remarried after having been married previously. This piece states that 67% of second marriages do not last. Third marriages are even more precarious with a 73% divorce rate. When you understand the fact that a significant majority of second and third marriages fail, you may conclude that premarital agreements may not be in poor taste after all. Perhaps they are simply a pragmatic response to a stark reality.