There are many different trusts that can be used to satisfy varying objectives. If you are concerned about the possibility of future creditors seeking to attach your assets, there is a particular type of trust that you should consider. The legal name of this trust structure is called a self-settled spendthrift trust. Among estate planning practitioners in Nevada, it is alternately referred to as a Nevada Asset Protection Trust.
This type of trust can protect a number of different assets, including real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, personal belongings, business holdings, and other types of assets from future creditors. It may also be used as a prenuptial planning device to protect assets from spousal claims in the event of a future divorce. However, it should be noted that you cannot create a self-settled asset protection trust and convey assets into it to protect assets from creditors that already have a judgment against you.
Up until relatively recently, self-settled asset protection trusts were not legal in the vast majority of states. However, more and more states have laws on the books that allow for the creation of these trusts. Our office is in Reno, Nevada, and our state of Nevada is one of the states that does allow self-settled asset protection trusts. For your information, the other states that currently allow these trusts in one form or another are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
We should point out the fact that you do not necessarily have to reside in the state where the self-settled spendthrift trust is going to be established. However, your will need to designate a trustee of the trust that resides in the state in which you are creating the trust. In addition, it is a good idea to relocate your assets to that state. This is relatively easy to do with some types of assets, like bank accounts and marketable securities. On the other hand, it is impossible to transfer real property to another state. For real property, it is recommended that you transfer the interest into a limited-liability company organized in the state in which you are creating the trust, and then transfer the membership interest in the limited-liability company to the trust. Then the trust will then own an interest in intangible personal property located in the state of the trust's creation.
When you decide to establish a self-settled or domestic asset protection trust, you are considered to be the grantor or settlor of the trust. You convey assets that you would like to protect from future creditors into the trust. It is important to understand the fact that this is an irrevocable trust, so the act of transferring property into the trust is permanent. You cannot change your mind later and take back personal possession of these assets.
The trust administrator is called the trustee, and generally speaking, the grantor of a self-settled asset protection trust would be prohibited from acting as the trustee. You would utilize an individual that you know or a professional fiduciary like an attorney, certified public accountant or the trust section of a bank or a trust company to handle the trust administration chores. The person or entity that is acting as the trustee must physically reside in the state where the trust is being created.
Once you convey assets into the domestic asset protection trust, you are not left completely out in the cold with regard to the utilization of assets in the trust. The trustee can distribute assets from the trust to you in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement. It would also be possible for the trust declaration to give the trustee the discretionary power to distribute assets to members of your family.
We should point out the fact that the trust will protect assets from future creditors, but sometimes there is a waiting period depending on the laws of the state in question. In Nevada, waiting period is two years, which is among the shortest of all the jurisdictions that recognize these trusts. So, by way of example, if you convey assets into a Nevada Asset Protection Trust today, and there is a judgment against you eighteen months from now, the assets may be fair game.
This is a relatively brief explanation of one of the many tools in the estate planning toolkit. Each case is different, and this is why personalized attention is very important. When you work with our firm, we will gain understanding of your needs, make recommendations, and help you put the ideal estate plan in place.
If you would like to schedule a consultation right now, we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455. We are also holding a series of Webinars over the coming weeks, and you can learn a great deal about many different estate planning topics if you attend one of these information sessions.
They are free to attend, but we do ask that you register in advance to reserve your seat, because space is limited. You can check out the schedule and obtain registration information if you click the following link: Reno Estate Planning Webinars.