Estate planning is not merely a legal necessity, but a shield to safeguard yourself, your family, and your financial achievements, irrespective of their magnitude. Despite its crucial role, a disheartening number of individuals overlook the value of estate planning. Whether it's about formulating a new estate plan or refining an existing one, procrastination can be a risky game. Below is an insight into some unsettling statistics regarding estate planning among Americans, emphasizing the urgency to address this issue to prevent becoming a part of these grim figures.
A Majority Lack a Will or Trust
Shockingly, only a third of Americans have a will or trust in place. This fact can be attributed to widespread myths and apprehensions surrounding estate planning. A significant number of people without a will or trust feel that their assets are too modest to warrant an estate plan. The misconception that estate planning caters only to the affluent, alongside hurdles like hectic schedules, perceived complexity or cost, or the uncomfortable subject of mortality, often delays this critical task. However, the advantages of proactive planning substantially outweigh the drawbacks of postponement.
Estate Planning Conversations Are Often Avoided
Death is an uncomfortable topic for many, yet discussing it and the accompanying estate planning aspects with family can be incredibly beneficial. It's alarming that 52% of individuals are clueless about where their parents have stored their estate planning documents, and a mere 46% of executors are aware of their nomination in a will. It's pivotal to have open conversations with your family regarding the whereabouts of essential documents and inform those involved in your estate plan about their roles, ensuring clarity and preparedness for the future. Some estate planners facilitate family meetings post the drafting of an estate plan to elucidate the responsibilities entailed.
Family Disputes Are Not Uncommon
A survey by LegalShield revealed that 58% of American adults have either been embroiled in or know someone who has faced family conflicts stemming from inadequate estate planning. Such disputes, often revolving around the distribution of assets post a loved one’s demise, underscore the necessity of meticulous planning. Engaging a proficient estate planning attorney can be instrumental in crafting a plan that minimizes familial discord and the potential for permanent rifts.
Seize the Moment to Plan or Revise Your Estate
The importance of solid planning stands timeless. With American retirees poised to transfer an astounding $36 trillion to heirs, charitable causes, and other beneficiaries over the forthcoming three decades, the call for a thorough financial and estate plan has never been louder. Cast aside apprehensions and kick start or proceed with your planning journey to steer clear of morphing into an unfavorable estate planning statistic. For any inquiries or guidance on initiating or amending your estate plan, we are just a call away.
Much like a well-attended roll call, a robust estate plan needs several legal instruments to ensure its comprehensiveness. The term 'estate planning' might ring a bell, yet the specifics of the legal tools involved may not be as clear. Let's delve into the essential legal tools that constitute a thorough estate plan and explore the protections and advantages each one offers.
Foundation With a Will or Revocable Living Trust:
Establishing a sound foundation is paramount for any structure, and estate planning is no exception. A will or a revocable living trust (RLT) acts as this foundation, guiding the distribution of your assets. While a will operates posthumously, an RLT provides directives both during incapacity and after death, thus making the choice between the two a pivotal decision based on individual circumstances.
Will: A typical choice for a foundational tool, a will necessitates a probate process to distribute your assets, although some assets can bypass probate through beneficiary designations or joint ownership. It's crucial to choose a competent executor to ensure smooth execution of your wishes.
Trust: An RLT, on the other hand, allows for probate avoidance, provided the assets are retitled to the trust. Besides, an RLT offers protection should you become incapacitated, making it a more encompassing tool.
Despite having an RLT, a 'pour-over' will is essential to transfer any assets not titled in the trust at the time of death, also enabling you to nominate guardians for minor children and specify funeral arrangements.
A testamentary trust is another notable tool, created posthumously through provisions stated in a will during one's lifetime, offering a customized distribution plan.
Financial Power of Attorney (POA):
A financial POA is a customizable legal tool, allowing you to appoint an agent to manage your financial affairs. The scope of authority granted can range from specific tasks under a limited POA to almost all financial decisions under a general POA. A Durable POA remains effective even during incapacity, ensuring continued financial management.
Medical Power of Attorney:
Entrusting someone to make medical decisions on your behalf during incapacity is facilitated through a medical POA. This document allows you to appoint a trusted individual, ensuring that your medical preferences are honored even when you cannot communicate them.
Advance Healthcare Directive:
Commonly known as a living will, an advance directive lets you specify your preferences for end-of-life care. It's a critical tool to have, providing clear instructions about life-support measures in terminal or vegetative conditions.
The Health Insurance and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorizations enable designated individuals to access your medical records. While not granting decision-making authority, these authorizations ensure selected individuals are informed about your medical condition.
For parents, securing the future of minor children is paramount. Some states offer separate legal instruments for appointing guardians, whereas others incorporate these provisions within a will. Consultation with an estate planning attorney can provide clarity on the appropriate tools for your state.
Temporary Guardianship or Parental Power Delegation:
Circumstances like extended travel may necessitate the delegation of parental powers to a temporary guardian. Understanding state-specific guidelines regarding the duration and limitations of such delegations is crucial to ensure the well-being of your children during your absence.
Navigating through the legal intricacies of estate planning might seem daunting, but with the right guidance and a well-structured plan, you can secure peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones. Engaging with an experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that the legal tools in your estate planning toolkit are tailored to meet your unique needs and circumstances.
When it comes to estate planning and legacy planning, most individuals focus on passing down their assets to their children and heirs. However, for those seeking to establish a legacy that will endure for generations, the concept of a dynasty trust becomes particularly intriguing.
A dynasty trust, an integral part of estate planning, is an irrevocable trust that offers similar tax advantages and asset protection as other trust types, but with a remarkable distinction—it can span multiple generations. Often referred to as perpetual trusts, dynasty trusts are meticulously designed to last indefinitely, as long as the trust's assets remain intact. Given the long-term nature of a dynasty trust, it is imperative to establish it with utmost care and attention to detail. Once the trust is in place, its rules generally cannot be altered, underscoring the importance of getting everything right from the beginning.
Setting up a dynasty trust follows a process akin to that of any other trust. The grantor, who serves as the trust's creator, transfers funds and assets into the trust during their lifetime or, in the case of a testamentary dynasty trust, after their death. Once the trust is funded, it becomes irrevocable, and the rules established by the grantor become fixed. Modifying these rules is only possible under specific state laws that govern trust modifications.
When establishing a dynasty trust, thoughtful consideration must be given to selecting the most suitable trustee. It is common practice to appoint an independent trustee, such as a bank or trust company, to administer the trust throughout its existence. Although a beneficiary can serve as a trustee, this approach may give rise to potential issues concerning taxes and creditor protection. A beneficiary-controlled trust can have significant implications for income and estate taxes, depending on the extent of the beneficiary's powers. It can also impact the level of asset protection provided to the beneficiary and expose family wealth to the risk of misappropriation. On the other hand, a corporate trustee, such as the dynasty trust itself, possesses indefinite legal life and can ensure uninterrupted administration across generations. Corporate trustees typically charge an annual fee based on the value of assets held in the trust.
While trusts are generally beneficial for individuals across various financial backgrounds, there are exceptions, and the dynasty trust is one of them. Establishing a dynasty trust does not necessitate grand dynastic aspirations akin to illustrious families like the Medici or the House of Windsor. However, it is most commonly utilized by families with substantial wealth. While there are no legal requirements regarding the minimum amount of funds needed to establish a dynasty trust, from a practical perspective, it is typically suitable for those with sufficient wealth and assets capable of sustaining multiple generations, taking into account the financial needs and responsibilities of the beneficiaries. Grantors who are concerned about future generations beyond their children often opt for dynasty trusts as part of their estate and legacy planning. Additionally, dynasty trusts can prove invaluable for families that own a family business and desire to maintain its continuity within the family lineage.
Statistics reveal that many family businesses fail to survive beyond the second or third generation, but a dynasty trust can significantly enhance the chances of success. By placing shares of the business into the trust, the grantor can provide for multiple generations of beneficiaries while ensuring the seamless continuation of business operations through professional trustee management. The trustee assumes responsibility for managing the business affairs and maintaining continuity, while the beneficiaries reap financial benefits. Furthermore, the grantor can include specific terms within the trust to guarantee competent business management, such as mandating the trustee to establish an advisory council functioning as a board of directors.
In the realm of estate planning and legacy planning, one of the notable advantages of establishing a dynasty trust is the potential for significant tax benefits. By leveraging the federal estate tax exemption amount (which currently stands at $12.06 million per individual in 2022, or twice that amount for couples) to fund a dynasty trust, you can effectively transfer money and property directly to your grandchildren while avoiding gift or generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes. To achieve this, you would place accounts and property into the trust and file a gift tax return to allocate appropriate tax exemptions to the trust or pay a portion of the wealth transfer tax. This strategic approach ensures that these assets are not included in your taxable estate, nor in the taxable estates of your beneficiaries, provided that the trust is fully exempt from GST tax.
Furthermore, utilizing trust funds to cover a beneficiary's living expenses or investing in a home for their benefit can also help reduce their taxable estate. Additionally, when a dynasty trust is properly drafted, accounts and property left to your loved ones within the trust can enjoy protection from creditors and divorce courts. In contrast, gifting money outright may not offer these same protective benefits.
It is worth noting that dynasty trusts are not available in every state due to the rule against perpetuities, a common law principle that restricts the duration of controlled property interests, including those established within trusts. This rule, which was not specifically created for trusts, aims to prevent individuals from exerting control over property ownership for an extended period after their demise through legal instruments like deeds and trusts. However, many states have modified or even eliminated this rule, as its interpretation can be complex. With the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, you may be able to establish a trust in a state where you do not reside, taking advantage of more favorable laws.
If you are considering the establishment of a dynasty trust, our firm can connect you with a skilled estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process. During your consultation, crucial factors such as selecting a trustee and beneficiaries, implementing tax and creditor protection strategies, understanding state laws pertaining to perpetual trusts, and aligning the dynasty trust with your comprehensive estate plan will be thoroughly discussed. Taking this initial step will enable you to secure your legacy and ensure the preservation of your wealth for future generations. To embark on this journey, please reach out to us, and we will be delighted to assist you.
May marks not only the end of the academic year and the start of summer, but it also marks the beginning of the busiest season for moving - National Moving Month! When you're moving, there are numerous tasks to tackle, including packing your belongings, managing utilities, forwarding mail, updating voter registration, and more. As you prepare for your next move, there are two major tasks to take into consideration:
In all of the chaos of moving boxes and packing tape, it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle or even thrown out during a move. Certain important documents, such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, financial statements and estate planning documents, should not be packed up and put on the moving truck along with your less important belongings. Keep these important documents safe and accessible during your move and ensure that they do not get thrown out by accident.
One idea is to purchase a portable file box with an attached lid and a secure latch. You might consider purchasing a brightly colored one so that it is easily identifiable. Then, place this file box in a secure and easily accessible location. If you are moving locally, a logical place might be at a family member’s or friend’s home. If you are moving a longer distance, that place might be the trunk of your car.
Having electronic backup copies of your important documents is a wise decision, especially during a move. You can take pictures of your documents and save them on your smartphone or a password-protected removable flash or external hard drive. Another option would be to store it in the cloud. This way, you'll always have a copy of these important documents in case you cannot locate the original.
Adding this step to your moving checklist can save you time and from stress. For example, you will not have to run around searching through unpacked boxes for your children's birth certificates to register them for their new school.
When moving, it's important to not only contact the moving company, but also to reach out to your team of advisors. A major consideration is the cost associated with the move, which is influenced by factors like the size of your home, the distance of the move, and your preference for do-it-yourself tasks. To ensure your moving expenses align with your long-term financial objectives, it's advisable to consult your financial advisor and establish a moving budget.
It is recommended to contact your estate planning attorney if you are moving different states. While a will or trust created in one state should generally be valid in another, certain documents such as a financial or medical power of attorney may be state-specific. Due to the variations in estate planning laws across different states, it is strongly advised that you have your estate planning documents examined to ensure their effectiveness in your new state. You can have your attorney review the documents or they can assist you in finding a local attorney who can review them for you in your new state.
If you and your spouse are moving out of or into a community property state, your estate planning may be more complicated. In these states, any property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be owned equally by both spouses, while property brought into the marriage by one spouse or acquired by gift or inheritance is separate property. Moving from a community property state to a common law state or vice versa raises questions about the status of community property. For instance, if a couple purchases a home in California during their marriage and then moves to Nebraska and buys a new home with the proceeds from selling their California home, is the new Nebraska home community property? Your estate planning attorney can answer these questions and help you take necessary steps to maintain any tax benefits.
Moving involves many things to consider, but don't forget to keep your important documents secure and meet with your team of advisers. These are crucial items to add to your moving checklist. If you're planning to move soon, we would be more than happy to help you keep this as smooth as possible.
Every child is a precious gift, and as parents or grandparents, we strive to plan for their future, anticipating their needs and aspirations. However, families with special needs children or grandchildren face additional responsibilities in ensuring their loved one's future is secure, fulfilling, and supported. To ensure a flourishing future for your special needs child or grandchild, estate planning measures focused on their unique circumstances are essential. We recommend the following steps:
When it comes to estate planning, creating a Special or Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) for your special needs child or grandchild should be a top priority. An SNT is a specialized trust designed to set aside funds and assets for the benefit of a beneficiary who may qualify for public assistance due to their disabilities. It can be established as a standalone trust or added to your existing trust.
It's important to note that government programs providing aid to disabled individuals have strict criteria regarding the amount of money and property a person can own while receiving benefits. Structuring any inheritance your special needs beneficiary may receive in a way that doesn't disqualify them from obtaining government benefits is crucial. Even if they are not currently receiving government benefits, considering the possibility of future needs is essential. To ensure all opportunities are available, it is vital that the trust is meticulously drafted by a lawyer well-versed in the eligibility requirements for government benefits.
An SNT not only provides financial security but also allows you to appoint a care manager or advisory committee. The care manager serves as an advocate for your special needs beneficiary, overseeing their well-being periodically or daily, depending on their level of care requirements. An advisory committee, comprising family members, friends, and professionals, can provide guidance to the trustee on the beneficiary's needs and the best use of the funds.
Additionally, the SNT can include a statement of intent, outlining the trust's purpose and how the funds should be utilized. This section acts as a safety net in case changes in the law make the beneficiary ineligible for government benefits. It allows for modifications to ensure your original intentions are met, even in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
In addition to establishing an SNT, putting your instructions in writing is crucial to ensure your wishes are carried out as intended. Consider creating a letter or memorandum of intent that provides guidance to your trustee on managing the trust after your passing. Although not legally binding, this document offers valuable insights into your true intentions. You can include details on how the funds should be used in accordance with government rules, specific goals you would like the beneficiary to achieve, and the standard of living you envision for them.
Supporting a special needs child or grandchild can be financially demanding, and it's important to consider how to sustain their care once you pass away. Life insurance can be a valuable tool in ensuring there will be sufficient funds for the trustee to use for their benefit. By designating the SNT as the beneficiary, you can provide a lump sum payment that is not subject to the same tax liabilities as retirement accounts.
The SECURE Act has brought changes to how beneficiaries can receive distributions from inherited IRAs, potentially impacting the financial support available to your special needs beneficiary. However, the Act also recognizes "eligible designated beneficiaries," including individuals with disabilities, who can still receive distributions over their life expectancies. Congress has established rules that allow the life expectancy of disabled beneficiaries to be used for certain types of trusts. If you have a substantial retirement account, it is crucial to discuss your distribution options to maximize benefits for all your beneficiaries.
We understand that securing a bright future for your special needs child or grandchild is of utmost importance to you. Our priority is to work with you in developing a comprehensive plan that will guarantee continued care and well-being for your loved ones. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to schedule an appointment so that we can begin this process together.
When Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, passed away in 1977, he left behind a complicated legacy, just like his famous dance moves. His estate, including the iconic Graceland, eventually ended up in the hands of his only child, Lisa Marie Presley. However, the future of Elvis's legacy and the fate of his estate face challenges ahead. These challenges involve Lisa Marie's personal financial issues, a significant age gap among her children, and even a legal dispute initiated by her mother, Priscilla Presley. The unfolding of this captivating saga will determine the course of Elvis's rockin' legacy.
From Elvis to Lisa Marie: Inheritance and Financial Legacy
Lisa Marie, born in 1968 to the legendary rock and roll icon Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla Presley, had to face the tragic loss of her father at a young age. Sadly, Elvis passed away at forty-two due to a heart attack. Fast forward to January 2023, and Lisa Marie herself succumbed to heart problems at the age of fifty-four.
Despite Elvis's untimely departure, his legacy has continued to thrive, with his estate earning an impressive $400 million in the previous year alone. The value of the estate skyrocketed to over $1 billion, thanks in part to the 2022 Elvis biopic movie. This created a substantial financial legacy for Lisa Marie to inherit.
The Elvis Presley Trust
When Elvis Presley passed away, his estate was placed in a trust with Lisa Marie, his grandmother, and his father as beneficiaries. According to the trust, Lisa Marie's inheritance was held in trust until she turned twenty-five in February 1993. After that, the trust dissolved automatically, and Lisa Marie inherited $100 million, including Graceland, her childhood home.
Today, Graceland stands as a museum and popular tourist attraction, generating over $10 million annually. To manage Graceland and the rest of Elvis's estate, which includes Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE), Lisa Marie established the Elvis Presley Trust. Until 2005, Lisa Marie served as the owner and chairperson of EPE's board, but she later sold 85 percent of its assets.
Graceland and the Living Trust
Graceland, the iconic mansion that was once Elvis Presley's residence, has become a symbol of his legacy and a beloved tourist destination. After Lisa Marie inherited it, she made it clear that Graceland would always remain within the family.
Lisa Marie's children, Riley Keough, Harper Lockwood, and Finley Lockwood, are set to inherit her fortune and properties through a living trust. However, Lisa Marie's son, Benjamin Keough, tragically passed away in 2020.
Considering that it's unclear whether Lisa Marie had a separate will in place, the living trust, an estate planning document, will play a significant role in determining the distribution of her assets. Through the living trust, individuals can transfer ownership of accounts and property to a separate entity, the trust, which they control while alive. The trust also names a successor trustee to manage the accounts and property after their passing.
Priscilla Presley's Trust Challenge
A challenge to Lisa Marie's living trust has emerged from an unexpected source—her own mother, Priscilla Presley. The legal dispute revolves around a 2016 amendment to the trust, which removed Priscilla and a former business manager as trustees and replaced them with Lisa Marie's daughter, Riley Keough, and her late son, Benjamin Keough.
Navigating the Challenges: Estate Planning and Protecting Your Legacy
Priscilla's claim challenges the validity of the living trust amendment, citing violations of legal requirements. She highlights the lack of proper notification, absence of witnesses or notarization, and even a misspelling of her name in the document. Adding to her concerns, Priscilla alleges that her daughter's signature appears suspiciously different from her usual signature. Consequently, she has sought the court's intervention to invalidate the amendment that removed her as the trustee.
Lisa Marie's Financial Struggles
Recent legal documents indicate that Lisa Marie faced financial challenges before her passing, despite inheriting $100 million at the age of twenty-five. She held approximately $95,000 in cash and possessed various assets such as bonds and stocks valued at $715,000. Although she earned over $100,000 per month from EPE, she also carried a $1 million tax debt and incurred monthly expenses of $92,000. Furthermore, her ex-husband, Michael Lockwood, reopened a lawsuit seeking $4,600 per month in child support.
By 2016, Lisa Marie's $100 million trust had significantly dwindled to just $14,000 in cash. Her former manager, Barry Siegel, faced allegations of mismanaging her finances, which resulted in a decline of her wealth. Court records reveal that Lisa Marie was burdened with a $16.67 million debt at that time. However, in 2019, Siegel countered the claims and asserted that the sale of her 85 percent stake in EPE helped resolve over $20 million in debts.
Potential Legal Challenges for the Lisa Marie Presley Estate
The legal ambiguity surrounding Lisa Marie's estate gives rise to numerous potential legal issues that will likely require judicial resolution. One such challenge is Priscilla's claim against the living trust amendment. If her challenge is successful, the amendment would be considered void, making Priscilla the successor trustee responsible for managing the trust's assets and funds instead of Lisa Marie's daughter, Riley. This matter would necessitate court intervention for resolution.
Although it remains uncertain whether Lisa Marie had outstanding debts, if she did, creditors could make claims against her estate. The estate would need to determine whether to accept or reject these claims. Rejecting them could lead to legal disputes. Creditors hold priority over beneficiaries, which means that Lisa Marie's accounts and property, including Graceland, might need to be sold to satisfy any outstanding debts. Additionally, even after the debts are settled, the estate may still be subject to estate taxes, which could further complicate matters if creditors decide to initiate lawsuits.
Her Daughters' Inheritance
Assuming the estate possesses sufficient funds to settle debts without selling Graceland, Lisa Marie's three daughters, Riley, Harper, and Finley, are poised to inherit the mansion and any remaining property or funds. However, the upkeep and tax costs associated with Graceland surpass $500,000 annually. It remains uncertain whether the daughters would collectively agree to bear these expenses and preserve the Elvis legacy within the family.
The daughters have the option to sell Graceland, but this decision could ignite internal conflicts if even one daughter wishes to pursue a sale. Additionally, crucial details regarding the ages of the daughters and their inheritances remain unknown. Did Lisa Marie establish a trust to hold her twin daughters' inheritances until they reach a specific age, as her father did for her? Or does the trustee possess discretionary power over the funds? Moreover, depending on the outcome of the trust challenge, will the trustee ultimately be Riley or Priscilla?
Furthermore, the question of whether Lisa Marie distributed her estate equally among her daughters remains unclear, as there is no legal requirement for equal distribution.
Control What You Can with an Estate Plan
The sudden and tragic passing of Lisa Marie Presley serves as a reminder that death can come unexpectedly. However, through estate planning, we can exert some control over our legacy.
Crafting a comprehensive estate plan can help alleviate some of the uncertainty and provide peace of mind to both ourselves and our loved ones. If you're ready to start planning for the future, please reach out to our office to schedule a consultation.
For over a quarter of a century, the National Safety Council has designated June as a
month of paramount importance - a time to honor and prioritize safety at a national
level. This annual celebration, known as National Safety Month, serves as a powerful
reminder of the critical role that safety plays in our lives.
The aim of this month-long campaign is to increase public awareness about the most
significant safety and health risks faced by people in the United States. While many
people are aware of common safety hazards, such as physical injuries, they may not
realize that incapacity or death can result in substantial financial and emotional
consequences for themselves and their families. A revocable living trust is a legal tool
that can help protect you and your loved ones from the costs, uncertainty, and chaos
that may arise in the event of your incapacity or death.
Protection by a Revocable Living Trust for Yourself
Just like anyone else, you face the risk of experiencing a catastrophic accident or illness
that could leave you incapable of taking care of yourself or your loved ones. This
incapacity might be temporary, or it could last until your eventual death. The total cost of
incapacity can be difficult to calculate and can include lost wages, as well as the
expenses of required medical care. These expenses may include requiring assistance
with daily activities such as bathing, eating or dressing. However, it can quickly become
very costly - the average cost of assisted living in the United States in 2020 was
approximately $4,300 per month.
A revocable living trust is an essential legal tool that helps protect you and your loved
ones by providing instructions for how you will be financially supported during your
incapacity. With a revocable living trust, you can choose who will manage your finances
when you are no longer able to handle them yourself. There’s no better time than now
to establish a revocable living trust because it is revocable, which means that you can
change it at any time and alter it as your life circumstances change, as long as you have
the mental capacity.
Protection by a Revocable Living Trust for Your Loved Ones
Your loved ones’ financial and emotional well-being is also protected by a revocable
living trust. It ensures that your wishes are clearly outlined for what should happen in
the event of your incapacity or death. This prevents your loved ones from having to speculate
on your desires or worse, having to follow state law to determine who should handle your finances and end-of-life affairs.
Probate fees, which vary significantly by state, can also be very expensive. For
example, in California, attorney and executor fees for probating an $800,000 home
could be as high as $38,000, as set by law. A revocable living trust can help avoid
probate and those high accompanying fees.
Revocable living trusts also offer privacy protection. Without the instructions provided in
these trusts, family members often have to resort to public court proceedings. This
means that the court and other curious individuals may pry into your private affairs.
Furthermore, these types of trusts can provide basic martial deduction planning to
maximize the use of you and your spouse’s estate tax exemptions. This helps to reduce
your loved ones’ estate tax burden, after your death. Finally, by using this legal tool, you
can protect the money you leave to your loved ones from their creditors.
Properly Funding Your Revocable Living Trust
To ensure that a revocable living trust serves its intended purpose, it must be properly
funded. This means that any property you own must be transferred to the trust, or for
certain assets, the trust must be named as the beneficiary. Failure to properly fund your
trust may result in the need for probate. To avoid this, it is essential to review any
correspondence you have received from your attorney regarding which accounts and
properties should be owned by the trust or designated as beneficiaries. It is especially a
good time to do this in the month of June, which is National Safety Month!
Given the importance of the instructions contained in a revocable living trust, it is
advisable to review them annually to ensure that they still align with your final wishes. If
changes are necessary, it is recommended that you seek assistance from a
professional to update your trust accordingly. This will ensure that your trust continues
to serve you and your loved ones during times of incapacity and after your passing.
For managing your assets and providing for your loved ones after your passing, a trust is a potent tool. Yet, the trustee you choose will have a big influence on how your trust turns out. The trustee is responsible for overseeing and allocating assets in accordance with the conditions of the trust and must possess the skills, moral fortitude, and knowledge required to successfully discharge their obligations and adhere to your objectives.
The first factor to consider when choosing a trustee is their relationship to you and your beneficiaries. This can help guarantee that the trustee is driven to act in everyone's best interests and that they have a profound understanding of the importance of their position.
Another important factor to consider is the trustee's financial and legal expertise. A good trustee should have a strong understanding of financial and legal matters, including tax law, investments, and estate planning. This can ensure that the trust is administered and distributed to maximize its worth and reduce its tax liabilities.
The trustee should also have the time and availability to manage the trust effectively. This entails being willing to embrace the responsibility of acting as a trustee and being flexible enough to devote the necessary amount of time and focus to the assignment. Make sure to discuss this issue with potential trustees upfront to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts down the road.
Finally, it's important to choose a trustee who possesses personal characteristics that make them trustworthy and reliable. Honesty, reliability, and responsibility are all essential traits for a good trustee. The trustee should be someone you trust implicitly, and who has a reputation for acting with integrity and following through on their commitments.
An individual trustee may have a more personal connection to you and your beneficiaries, and may be better suited to managing smaller trusts or those with less complex asset structures. However, a corporate trustee may offer more expertise and resources, as well as greater objectivity and accountability. The trustee has a right to compensation for their services, and it's crucial to make sure that it's just and reasonable.
Another important consideration is the need for ongoing professional guidance and support. Even the most experienced and capable trustee may need guidance from time to time, particularly when it comes to complex legal or financial matters. This will guarantee that what you want done, gets done.
Another important consideration is making sure your trustee has the knowledge necessary to manage your trust effectively on a legal and financial level. Selecting a trustee with expertise in areas like tax planning, investment management, or estate administration may be suitable depending on the complexity of your estate plan and the assets involved.
It's critical to remember that your selection of trustee is not final. If circumstances change or if you believe your present trustee is not performing up to your standards, you can always change them.
Choosing the right trustee is essential for ensuring the success of your trust. You can make an informed choice that will help ensure that your trust is managed and distributed in a way that reflects your wishes and values by taking into account aspects, like the trustee's relationship to you and your beneficiaries, their financial and legal expertise, their availability and willingness to serve, & their personal characteristics.
Prepare to be amazed! May is not just any ordinary month - it's National Home Remodeling Month, the time of year when the National Association of Home Builders officially recognizes the tremendous value of home improvement projects. Springtime comes with spring cleanings and home improvement projects, but can also be a good time to consider updating your estate planning documents.
If you need to make small updates to your estate planning documents, such as changing the names of beneficiaries or decision makers, you may wonder whether you can take care of these changes on your own or if you should seek the assistance of a professional. Here are some things to consider before choosing which option is best for you:
If Your Name Changes
If you've changed your name due to marriage and/or your own personal preference, and your estate planning documents don't need to be changed, you may only need to keep copies of any legal paperwork reflecting the name change. Keep copies of these documents together with your estate planning documents. If you've remarried and want to change your name in your estate planning information, or if a trust you established has your old name in the title, it's best to consult an industry professional, such as an attorney, to ensure that the name change is properly handled.
If a Beneficiary’s Name Changes
Wondering what you should do if your beneficiary's name changes? Whether it is due to marriage and/or personal preference, staying on top of this information can save you from running into issues later down the road. While updating your estate planning documents is not necessarily critical, it may be necessary for your beneficiary to prove their identity with a court order, marriage certificate, or birth certificate. It is important to avoid making changes directly on your estate planning documents, such as crossing out a name and writing in a new one. This has resulted in confusion and has even prompted litigation in the past. Courts have had to weigh in on these types of edits to estate planning documents to determine their validity and intent. Even though it may seem harmless, unforeseen consequences can often arise when attempting to edit legal documents yourself.
Adding or Removing a Beneficiary
When events occur such as the birth of a child or the passing of a beneficiary, you may wonder if you need to update your estate planning documents. The answer is that it depends on the language in your documents. Some estate planning documents are drafted to anticipate future additions or removals of beneficiaries by name. It is highly important to seek legal advice before making any changes to your estate planning documents, as serious legal consequences can result from attempting to do so on your own.
Making changes without legal advice could result in unintentionally cutting off people from receiving an inheritance or having your property go to those who never intended to benefit. For instance, adding a spouse’s name to the list of children in your estate planning documents could lead to unintended consequences if the spouse remarries after the child’s death. The former in-law could become a beneficiary of the family trust and have certain rights regarding the trust’s administration, including the right to demand a copy of the trust documents and any financial accountancy. Once that share is paid out, the former in-law might use it in a way that it was not originally intended for, causing negative consequences from an innocent and well-meaning attempt to provide for an in-law.
Appointing New Trusted Decision Makers
In some cases, you may want to appoint new individuals to make important decisions about your property if you become incapacitated or pass away. However, it’s important to understand that certain legal documents cannot be amended easily. While it may be tempting to simply cross off the names of the people you want to remove and add new preferred decision-makers, this can actually void the document under certain circumstances.
If you need to make such important changes, it’s best to have the documents redrafted and executed with the same formalities used in the original documents, ensuring that you follow the applicable state law. For instance, your state may require multiple unrelated witnesses to the signing of a modified will, even if the change you’re making is a one-sentence amendment. The same is true for a codicil, which is an amendment to your will. Other legal documents, such as a power of attorney, a trust amendment, or restatement, may also require similar formalities, such as having your signature notarized.
Modifying Distribution Provisions
There may be times when you consider altering the distribution provisions of your will or trust by changing the percentage/fraction shares of your estate. It is important to note that this modification should be avoided when attempting to make such changes on your own. It is always advisable to consult an attorney if you wish to modify the distribution provisions of your will or trust. You must consider this amendment very carefully and execute it with strict documentation. Such a change to your estate planning documents carries the risk that a beneficiary who receives less under the amendment may challenge it and use any argument available to invalidate the changes. An experienced estate planning attorney will know the necessary steps to take to ensure that your legal documents will be honored by your beneficiaries and the courts after you pass away.
As you have seen, remodeling your estate plan without the help of a trained and experienced attorney can lead to many potential issues. When handled properly, these changes don’t have to be expensive. Your attorney can quickly and inexpensively fix some of these small issues by drafting an amendment to your estate planning documents. Other changes may require more work because the issues are considerably more complex than you first realized. In either case, with a legal professional guiding you through the process, you can be confident that you will not be leaving your loved ones with a legal mess to sort out after you are gone.
If you are uncertain about whether you need an attorney to help you modify your estate plan, we encourage you to contact us. We are happy to consult with you and help you determine what changes, if any, you may need to make.
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.
As the new year begins, many of us take stock of our past and plan for the future. As a business owner, it can be easy to get caught up in daily tasks and neglect long-term planning for your its succession. However, it's essential to consider the impact and legacy you want your business to have in the future. If you want to make a positive difference for future generations, consider using a new, lesser-known planning tool called the purpose trust.
A traditional trust is a legal agreement between three parties: the grantor, trustee, and beneficiary. The grantor funds the trust with financial or property assets, and the trustee manages these assets according to the terms of the trust, for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. A charitable trust is an exception, as it is created for a charitable purpose but does not have specifically designated beneficiaries. Recently, some states have introduced the concept of noncharitable purpose trusts, also known as purpose trusts.
These trusts can be established for most lawful purposes, as long as they are reasonable and do not violate public policy. However, in some states, they can only be used for specific purposes such as pet care or grave site maintenance. To ensure that the trustee carries out the grantor's stated purpose, the grantor must appoint an independent “enforcer” who can petition the court if duties outlined in the trust are not performed. A trust protector can also be appointed to modify the trust if necessary, for example, to add beneficiaries or modify the jurisdiction where the trust is effective. The goal of a purpose trust is not primarily to minimize taxes or transfer wealth efficiently (though this can be achieved), but to ensure that the grantor's purpose is fulfilled.
You’ve likely heard of, or own clothing from the company, Patagonia. In September 2022, Yvon Chouinard, the the company’s founder, transferred the voting stock of the $3 billion outfitter to a purpose trust to extend his mission of fighting the planet’s environmental crisis. In an excerpt on the Patagonia website, he stated that the company's continued purpose is to "save our home planet." After finding out his children did not have a desire to take over the family business, Chouinard decided not to sell the company, as he worried a new owner might have different values and his employees would not retain job security.
The Patagonia Purpose Trust, guided by the family and advisors, took over the voting stock of the company to ensure that its values were upheld and profits were used for their environmental protection goals. A 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization was also set up to transfer the nonvoting stock into. The nonprofit will be funded by Patagonia’s dividends, amounting to an estimated $100 million a year, for environmental protection efforts. The business interests were not donated to a charity, so they will encounter an estimated $17.5 million in gift tax, and no charitable deduction will be available to Chouinard. However, he effectively avoided $700 million in capital gains taxes and substantial estate tax liability upon his death.
A purpose trust can be a viable option for business succession planning if you own a profitable company and want to keep its mission alive. Similar to the Chouinard family, you can ensure that your company's values and mission continue to be upheld for many years to come, and that your employees have job security. This is particularly useful if you do not have children who are interested in running the business or if your children do not share your values. The terms of a purpose trust can ensure that future management adheres to the trust's purpose, and also ensures that the company remains private and that values remain a priority over profit.
From a business standpoint, what are your goals for the future? If you're interested in using your wealth for the benefit of a cause you’re passionate about, you might want to look into a purpose trust. Contact the team at Anderson, Dorn & Rader to see if this planning option is suitable for you.
One of the most crucial decisions within your life plan is determining who will manage the estate when you aren’t around anymore, or are no longer fit to do so. This individual is called the successor trustee.
A large amount of responsibility comes with being nominated as a successor trustee. Because of the complicated procedures, time they’ll need to dedicate, and risks that the trustee will assume, many people consider hiring a professional fiduciary (like an estate planner) to be their trustee.
When hiring a professional to carry out the duties of trustee, you’ll first need to ensure that a terms of engagement document is signed by both parties to lay out the relationship between parties. This should be a separate document from the one that identified their duties as your estate planner. You’ll also want to look for the following qualifications (and potential red flags) when deciding whether to carry out the relationship.
Even if a professional fiduciary is able to draft a thorough terms of engagement document, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have all the resources to properly administer your trust. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to make sure that the professional fiduciary takes the trustee role seriously, and that they are well-equipped to take on the job. The below functions should be well within the wheelhouse of a satisfactory candidate for a professional trustee:
Even seasoned estate planners who take on the responsibility of trustee can find it difficult to fit your estate management into their schedule. The professional that you hire should be responsive and accessible. This is especially the case when the trust requires critical decisions related to distributions, beneficiary health, maintenance, education, and support. After you are gone, your beneficiaries will also be in constant contact with your hired fiduciary, and even more so when distributions are made on a reoccurring basis.
For instance, one of your beneficiaries may request an early distribution to cover the expenses of a medical procedure. Or perhaps the period to take advantage of government benefits is drawing to a close on a distribution amount. Will your professional trustee pick up the phone or quickly respond to an email in these instances? Proper communication is paramount to deal with the intricacies of your family’s lives, and your hired trustee must be passionate about providing them service when needed.
No one can work forever, and even your hired trustee must retire at some point. Do they have a plan in place to transfer their responsibilities to another individual or firm? The terms in your trust should outline who will become your successor trustee, but in the case that your trust puts the power of designating the successor in the hands of the trustee, you’ll want to ask your professional fiduciary who will fill their place if something happens to them.
Some instances will require your professional trustee to communicate with the caregivers of your beneficiaries. This could be due to the beneficiaries being minors, or perhaps because they are disabled.
In the case that a beneficiary is not able to manage the assets they’re gifted in the trust, it’s vital that your professional trustee can communicate with caregivers to understand their needs and translate them into actionable estate management duties.
After applying these suggestions when considering a third party trustee, notify them of your decision to nominate them. Even though they won’t assume trustee duties until you are unfit or no longer around, being proactive benefits the planning of your affairs.
Your nominated professional trustee does not necessarily have to accept the position. But by finding out if they’d like to take on the responsibilities sooner than later, you’ll have ample time to make an educated decision if you need to select another individual.
If you have any questions about selecting a professional estate planner to be your trustee, the knowledgeable attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader can help. We offer Trustee Services to help guide you in the process of choosing an adequate trustee to carry out your wishes and preserve your family’s wealth.
Schedule a FREE consultation to discover the benefits of choosing Anderson, Dorn & Rader as your professional corporate trustee. We look forward to serving your needs with a high level of professionalism, experience, and dignity to match the values of your family.
Life is riddled with unknowns. While you can control certain events like whether you’ll have kids or tie the knot, other milestones are not as easy to predict. Life comes at your fast, and sudden, unexpected events can muddle with estate planning. For this reason, make sure your plan is flexible.
You’re able (and it’s recommended) to update your estate plan as you age. But when you die, the plan is more or less set in stone. To curb some of the unknowns that will inevitably arise, it’s a good idea to incorporate milestones into your estate plan. Milestones trigger predetermined decisions that allow you to exercise your wishes and pass wealth to loved ones after you are gone.
If-then statements are pre-made decisions that are carried out based on conditions you set. They are commonly seen in legal documentation, including estate plans.
The concept of if-then statements is straightforward. If a certain criteria is met, then a given action is put into motion. Take the following for example: “If my spouse and I both pass away before our children are fit to care for themselves, [Relative X] will be nominated as their rightful guardian."
Clauses like these can reserve some of the power you have over otherwise unforeseen circumstances. They also offer more flexibility than more simplistic declarative statements (“I leave the property in The Hamptons to my oldest daughter”, for example).
If-then statements can build upon one another to account for various future scenarios. So you could say, “If my spouse and I both pass away before our children are fit to care for themselves, [Relative X] will be nominated as their rightful guardian. If [Relative X] is unfit to care for our children, [Friend A] will assume the nomination.”
The beauty of conditional actions in your estate plan is that they can take on many forms. Aside from if-then statements, you can also include asset allocations or gifts that are put into motion when certain milestones are reached.
Check out these events that are commonly incorporated to trigger gifts or distributions to loved ones:
These milestones are just the tip of the iceberg, and can be combined or modified. For instance, you may give wedding money to a child while storing the rest of their inheritance within a trust. This ensures that if they get divorced, the assets you pass on won’t fall into the hands of their ex-spouse.
You can also set up your estate plan to allocate more money to an individual if the value of that asset increases over time. Remember that if-then statements can be used to make such allocations flexible. The possibilities are endless.
It's a complicated process to populate your estate plan with if-then statements and other milestones. But the work you do up front will protect you and your loved ones from the unknowns of the future.
The professional estate planners at Anderson, Dorn & Rader will help to put all your wishes in writing. To simplify the proceedings, we can spell out your conditional statements with flow charts and diagrams. These can then be integrated into your estate plan to provide clarity after you’re gone.
Whether you’re looking to update an existing life plan, or start from scratch, our estate planning lawyers can help. Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader to secure your plans for the future and continue your legacy after you’re gone.
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.
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.
Many Northern Nevadans know the dangers that come along with this time of year. A 2019 statistic showed that 17% of all accidents happen during winter conditions, highlighting an increased chance for individuals to experience an accident due to extreme weather changes. Ultimately, no matter how long you’ve lived in the region, less sunlight, alongside rain, snow, and black ice creates challenges for anyone driving on the road. While no one ever thinks they will fall victim to an accident, knowing what to do after a fender bender is crucial to ensuring a headache-free experience.
Following these guidelines can help you document the incident calmly and efficiently.
While many people believe there is no reason to immediately report minor accidents, following these steps avoids unnecessary complications and significant penalties down the road.
If an accident occurs making you unable to speak or communicate decisions clearly, you will need to have someone talk to medical professionals on your behalf. This should be a previously planned and trusted individual who would be deemed your medical power of attorney. This person will arrange treatment with doctors until you regain consciousness, so it's crucial you've assigned this power to someone. Your medical power of attorney will expedite medical treatment in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, your medical power of attorney should know where to obtain a copy of this documentation to help expedite treatment.
Opting for minimum coverage can be detrimental to your savings and property in the event of a serious lawsuit. You and your car must be fully covered to prevent this from happening. Plus, you should speak to your insurance broker to find out if umbrella insurance makes sense for you. Umbrella insurance is a low-cost way to gain extra liability coverage and protect yourself from damages that may exceed the limits of your car insurance. Umbrella insurance ensures you have access to a bigger pool of money in the event of a car crash lawsuit against you, protecting your savings and future prosperity.
After a car accident with significant property damages and medical injuries, it may feel necessary to protect your assets from excessive lawsuit demands. You may attempt to do this by transferring funds to friends and family, but be careful because this is against the law in some states. These transfers used to protect assets won’t be ignored by the courts. If considered fraudulent, court judges have the full right and power to reverse transfers. This means that these assets can be obtained by the party in the event of a successful lawsuit against you even after being gifted to a friend or family member.
Revocable trusts are used to protect your assets and trust from creditors and lawsuits after your death. Unfortunately, while some people believe that these trusts protect their assets during their life, this is a misconception and not their design. These trusts fail to completely protect your assets because you have complete control of all assets placed in a revocable trust. Your ability to control these trusts means a judge can order you to revoke the trust to pay creditors and lawsuit judgments.
However, with the guidance of an experienced asset protection and estate planning attorney, you can use properly designed strategies to enhance protection for your assets and property. That means taking the time to sit down with an experienced attorney well before an accident occurs offers you the best chance to maximize asset protection for your estates.
Contact us today to see how AD&R can provide you with the finest legacy and wealth planning advice Northern Nevada has to offer. We help get you the proper insurance and design estate planning to help you overcome unexpected lawsuits after an accident. Give us a call today so that we can help prepare you for the perils winter might bring.
To date, twenty-four states have enacted or introduced model legislation referred to as the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (Formerly Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act). The full text is available on the website of the Uniform Law Commission at https://www.uniformlaws.org/committees/community-home?CommunityKey=64ee1ccc-a3ae-4a5e-a18f-a5ba8206bf49.
You’ve had your trust documents drafted and signed, now you assume your estate plan is in place and no further action is required. Unfortunately, this is not all that needs to be done to ensure your estate plan is effective. For any trust to have actual value, it needs to be funded.
The process of funding your trust is essential to leave property, cash, and other assets to your beneficiaries. Learn more about trust funding and proper titling below.
Funding is the process of moving assets, such as money and property into the appropriate trust. To fully understand funding, imagine your trust as an empty bucket. The bucket by itself doesn’t offer much usefulness, but once you fill the bucket up, it has a purpose. Trusts function similarly in that they are only useful when they have money or property in them.
The funding process involves retitling your assets in the name of your trust. Bank accounts, property, and any other assets will need to be titled in the trust’s name in order for them to be included in that trust, otherwise, it will remain empty. This can be done in one of two ways:
By doing this, your trust can be easily handed over to a successor trustee to manage in the event of your incapacitation - without the need for court intervention. Your successor trustee will have the right and responsibility to use the assets placed in the trust for you and your beneficiaries while you are unable to manage those things on your own. Fortunately, fully funded living trusts are exempt from the probate process, which provides a superior method of managing the trust for streamlined asset distribution and much more.
To properly fund your trust, you’ll need to work with the financial organizations you bank with to transfer ownership of your accounts into the trust’s name. Any real property you own will also need to be transferred into the trust’s name which may require a new deed to be signed with the correct information. Take a look at some of the common types of property that can be included or funded in your trust:
Accounts including checking, savings, money market, and certificate of deposit (CD) should all be regularly funded to your trust. To do this, you’ll need to work with the bank or credit union in which you have accounts to retitle them into your trust’s name. Commonly, you will be required to provide a certificate of trust that contains information the financial institution will need to complete the transfer. Just be sure that there are no early withdrawal penalties for retitling your CD accounts.
Real estate may refer to your personal residence or another property (commercial, residential, or industrial) owned by you. Real property refers to the interests associated with property such as mineral or timber rights. Both types of property will require the help of an estate planning attorney to prepare the appropriate documents and ensure the property deeds are signed and sealed specifically for your trust.
Investment accounts will also need to be transferred into your trust’s name which can be accomplished through your financial advisor or broker of a custodial account. To do this, a certificate of trust is often necessary for proper retitling of your investments.
Personal effects may include items such as jewelry, furniture, clothing, photos, artwork, collections, tools, vehicles, and more. You can easily move these items into your trust by signing an assignment of personal property.
In regards to your life insurance, it’s best to name your trust as the primary beneficiary of the policy so that the trust has authority over the earnings garnered from said policy. It is then customary to name loved ones or other special persons such as a spouse, partner, or child as secondary beneficiaries. Most insurance companies have processes in place that allow these changes to be made easily. To change the primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy, contact your insurance agent to get the proper beneficiary designation forms filled out and filed.
Retirement assets may include individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401k plans. Typically, it is not recommended to transfer ownership of these accounts to your trust due to the serious tax implications they pose for the plan’s owner. Before you assign your trust as the primary beneficiary on your retirement accounts, it’s crucial that you understand the potential tax consequences associated with this plan of action. Fortunately, your estate planning attorney can help you assess these risks and make the most appropriate decision for you.
The most common types of property are listed above, but these aren’t the only assets that you may want to be funded into your trust. To ensure that your legacy goes to the appropriate beneficiaries, and to avoid probate, it’s important to include all of your assets in your trust. Some of the other types of property that should be funded into your trust include:
Your estate plans matter more than you may think. While many people assume they don’t have adequate assets to warrant the need for a living trust or other types of estate plans, this isn’t the case. Reputable estate planning attorneys can help you develop an effective estate plan that safeguards your assets and ensures your legacy for generations to come.
Connect with Anderson, Dorn & Rader today to have your trust documents drafted and titled, and your trusts properly funded. We’ll help you retitle your accounts and ensure correct ownership of your property for an effective estate plan.
In the event of your incapacity, it’s crucial that you begin estate planning to set processes and prepare documents such as a last will and testament or revocable living trust to safeguard your assets. Congress determined that due to the importance and benefits estate planning has for Americans and their families, it was necessary to bring awareness to the cause. Thus, since 2008, the third week of October has been recognized as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. While the onset of COVID-19 did encourage a majority of us to begin thinking about the future, many American families are still severely lacking an effective estate plan with just one-third of adults in the U.S. having documented wills or trusts. If you assume that estate planning isn’t for you because you haven’t acquired mass wealth or several large assets, you’d be mistaken.
Estate planning is simply a way to protect your assets and your loved ones by creating legally valid documents that address a variety of concerns. These concerns often include ensuring that your money and property are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your assets are managed according to your wishes.
To begin the estate planning process, several considerations need to be made. Some of the things that will require your attention are whether or not you have a will or trust, your plans for powers of attorney, insurance coverage, and your existing accounts. Below, we will discuss these considerations more in-depth:
National Estate Planning Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get your own estate plan in place, but be sure to also reach out to your loved ones to ensure their future estate plans as well. Estate planning is often a difficult topic to broach because it brings the unpleasant topics of aging and death to the forefront of our minds. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation:
Our estate planning and trust company in Reno, NV has been serving families and businesses throughout northern Nevada for over 25 years. As experienced estate attorneys, we are dedicated to providing you with the most current estate planning information and strategies to ensure your legacy for future generations. We’re able to prepare last will and testaments, revocable trusts, healthcare directives, and act as power of attorney in the case of your incapacitation. Contact us today to learn more about estate planning or sign up for one of our estate planning workshops.