Estate Planning & Legacy Trusts

February 3, 2011

Nobody is especially anxious to part with any of their hard earned money and hand it over to the tax man. But in spite of the complaining, most people recognize the fact that some taxation is necessary and are perfectly willing to pay their fair share. What people don't want to do is pay taxes multiple times on the same earnings, and this is one of many reasons there is so much support in some quarters for a permanent repeal of the estate tax.
Consider this overly simplified example that demonstrates the logically indefensible nature of the estate tax. Let's say that Elizabeth was an avid saver throughout her life. She socked away a sizable portion of every paycheck that she ever earned in a savings account.
Since she was so frugal it always bothered her to see that she was left holding only about $60 out of every $100 she earned after paying payroll and income taxes, but she was heartened by the fact that she was doing her part as a good citizen.
After saving so diligently for so long she was able to accumulate quite a large sum of money. Every year she paid income taxes on the interest she had earned and then when she died, the estate tax kicked in and her children received just 65% of the savings that she worked so hard to accumulate after paying taxes. And then when her children died and left that money to their children, it was once again taxed at 35% and less than half of the taxable portion of Elizabeth's original bequest was left.
A viable response to this potential scenario is the creation of a legacy trust. With these vehicles you name your grandchildren as the beneficiaries, skipping a generation as it were. Your children can still receive benefits from the trust, but they don't own the assets so they can't be targeted by claimants or former spouses. When your children die, your grandchildren inherit the contents of the trust, and the estate tax is levied only once though two generation enjoyed benefits from the trust. And now, in Nevada, as well as a handful of other states, the tax can be avoided for multiple generations with a properly established trust.

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