An estate plan consists of several parts and considerations, including a living trust. A living trust is a legal arrangement set up during a person’s lifetime that places their assets into a trust overseen by a trustee. The living trust also determines how the trustor’s assets will be distributed once they pass or become incapacitated. Some factors that may cause someone to create a trust range from tax benefits and avoiding probate to caring for family members with special needs. See how working with an estate planning attorney to create a living trust will help your family.
Avoiding probate is the most common reason for seeking out a living trust. Probate is the courts’ process of proving a will is accepted as a valid document that can be used to effectively distribute assets. There are several reasons in which you would want to avoid probate. The first is that probate can be a costly way to transfer your assets upon death. There are multiple parties that may need to be paid out during a probate proceeding, including the court, which add up quickly.
Probate is also a very lengthy process. It can take six to nine months (sometimes longer) to fully go through probate. There are many factors, documents, and people involved in the probate process, so it’s easy for complications to arise. Problems such as a contested will or an inability to find clear records of all of the deceased's assets and debts can extend this timeline.
Lastly, your probate proceedings will be publicly recorded for the court, meaning your case will become public knowledge and will be available to anyone. This significantly limits you and your family’s privacy which is not ideal during a family member's death.
A living trust provides tax savings to those estates that are subject to estate or gift taxes. There are many types of trusts to choose from, but the most common are irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts. A revocable living trust allows you to make amendments and changes to the documents as necessary, even during the trustor’s life. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended after the document has been signed, but it does offer significant transfer tax benefits that are not subject to the typical gift tax requirements. When you work with us, we'll make sure to align the type of trust with your family's tax-saving needs and other goals.
When it comes to your trust, it’s important for you to understand that a trust only controls assets that are put, or funded, into the trust. Living trusts need to be continually updated to accommodate changes such as marriage, childbirth, home purchases, and tax laws that could affect the trust. With a living trust, the trustor is able to amend the document to reflect their wishes. Because of this, it’s crucial that you work closely with your estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are properly aligned with your trust. This will not only help you get organized, but it will also make things easier for your heirs when you pass away.
Call our office at (775) 823-9455 or visit us online at wealth-counselors.com to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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.
Far too many people automatically assume that a last will is the right asset transfer vehicle, but this is a shortsighted perspective. There are many different types of trusts that can be utilized, and some of them are ideal for people that are not extraordinarily wealthy.
The trust that is optimal for the widest array of people is the revocable living trust. These trusts provide several advantages, but we are going to focus on one aspect here.
If you were to use a last will to state your final wishes, the administrator would be the executor that you name in the document. The executor will have to identify and inventory all of the assets that comprise the estate to prepare them for distribution to the heirs.
In some cases, this is complicated because there can be many different ownership documents and financial accounts to run down. Even if it is relatively easy to locate them, it is a daunting administrative task.
During probate, the estate will be probated by the court. This process will typically take at least nine months, even if there are no estate challenges or other unusual difficulties. No inheritances can be distributed during this interim.
When a living trust has been established, the administrator is the trustee. Your trustee can be an individual that you know personally, but there is another option. Trust companies, the trust department of banks, and some law firms will handle trustee duties (including ours).
Granted, there are some costs involved when you use a professional fiduciary, but it can be worthwhile under certain circumstances.
When you fund a living trust, the trust will become the owner of the property. It should be noted that you do not have to put everything that you own into the trust. You would also have total access to trust assets while you are living, so you do not surrender control.
You would act as the trustee throughout your life, and in the trust declaration, you would name a successor trustee to assume the role after you die. When the time comes, it would be simple for the trustee to handle the duties, because all or most of the assets would be contained in the trust.
To account for assets that may be in your personal possession at the time of your death, you can include a pour-over will when you establish your overall estate plan. This type of will would allow your personal resources to be “poured over” into the trust after your passing.
Another aspect of the trust administration process that is very efficient is the avoidance of probate. The trustee would be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes, and the distributions would not be subject to probate.
If you already know enough to recognize that action is required, we would be more than glad to help. We are well aware of the potential impact of the novel coronavirus, and your safety is our top priority. We are offering consultations by phone or in our office following CDC guidelines. To set the wheels in motion, send us a message to request a consultation appointment or call at 775-823-9455.
A lot of people think that estate planning begins and ends with the financial part of the equation, but this is really not the case. It is also important to address eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life, such as incapacity or incompetency. They are not especially pleasant to consider, but a difficult situation can be much worse if you enter into it when you are completely unprepared.
The population is aging rapidly because of the fact that the baby boomer generation is attaining senior citizen status. Of course, if you plan ahead effectively for retirement, your “golden years” can be full of travel, leisure activities, and quality time with your family.
This is something to look forward to, but once you reach the age of full Social Security eligibility, your life expectancy will be 85 if you are a man, and 87 if you are a woman. The United States Census Bureau has found that the segment of the population that is between 85 and 94 years of age is growing faster than any other.
When you put these numbers into perspective, you can see that there is a very good chance that you will experience life as an octogenarian.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that we have all heard about, but when you look into it a bit, its widespread nature is quite surprising. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in 10 people that are 65 and older have contracted this disease. It strikes someone every 65 seconds, and by 2050, it is projected that 13.8 million American seniors will be suffering from Alzheimer’s.
This disease causes dementia and incapacity for seniors and come in many different forms. Clearly, the potential for latter life incapacity is something that everyone should take quite seriously.
There are a number of different steps that you can take to prepare yourself for possible incapacity, starting with the creation of a living trust. Many people think that a last will is the right choice as an asset transfer vehicle if you are not extremely wealthy. In fact, a living trust is a better choice for a number of different reasons.
We will cover all of them in a different blog post, but one of the advantages that you can gain if you use a living trust is the ability to prepare for incapacitation. While you are alive, you can act as the trustee of your living trust. In the trust declaration, you can name a disability trustee that would be empowered to administer the trust if you are still living, but incapacitated.
Your incapacity plan could include a durable power of attorney for property, which would give the agent the ability to manage your financial affairs. A durable power of attorney is another document that can be used to address incompetency later in life. This document gives an agent or attorney-in-fact the ability to make legally binding decisions on your behalf. You could execute one of these documents if you don’t have a living trust, and it would be useful even if you do, because you could have property in your personal possession that was never conveyed into the trust. A durable power of attorney for health care decisions should be part of incapacity planning.
In order for the health care agent to be able to make sound decisions, he or she must have access to your medical records. They are kept private unless you sign a HIPAA release form, so this is another piece to the puzzle.
How would you feel about being kept alive indefinitely through the utilization of artificial life-sustaining measures if there was no hope of recovery? You can answer this question through the inclusion of a living will.
If you would like to learn more about all aspects of estate planning, attend one of our upcoming Webinars. There is no admission charge, and you can check out our Webinars schedule page to get all the details.
When you find out all the facts about last wills, you will probably be interested in alternatives. What’s wrong with a will as an asset transfer vehicle? The short answer is that that a will must be admitted to probate, which is a costly, time-consuming legal process. You can also add in a number of other drawbacks that we will cover in a future post.
A revocable living trust would be a better choice for most people. If you are concerned about losing control of assets that you convey into a trust, you can set them aside. You can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living if you create this type of trust, so you call the shots.
In a very real sense, the situation is the same as it would be if you still had all the assets in your own name. Yes, you sign them over to the trust, but you are the trustee with unlimited latitude to do whatever you want to do with the resources. You also have the power to revoke the trust at any time.
For these reasons, a living trust would not be the right choice for people that want to separate themselves from personal possession of the assets for one reason or another. This is done through the utilization of irrevocable trusts of different kinds.
The ultimate point of the trust is to serve as an estate planning device, so you have to account for the events that will take place after you are gone. To this end, you name a successor trustee, and you name your heirs as the successor beneficiaries. Postmortem asset transfers would not be subject to probate, so the drawbacks that we touched upon would be avoided.
Many people would say this is the major benefit, but there are a number of others. When assets have been conveyed into a living trust, the estate administration process is simplified, because the resources are conveniently consolidated.
To elaborate on the consolidation factor, even if you intend to convey assets that will be part of your estate into the trust, you may still have property in your direct possession at the time of your passing. You can account for this through the inclusion of a pour over will. This type of will allows the trust to absorb these assets; they are “poured over” into the living trust.
You can empower a disability trustee to assume the role if you ever become incapacitated, and this is a key feature, because incapacity strikes a very significant percentage of elders. Another benefit is the ability to add a spendthrift clause to protect a beneficiary that may be prone to irresponsible spending.
Like everything else within the realm of estate planning, there is no single answer to questions that people typically ask, because it all depends on the circumstances. When it comes to choosing a living trust trustee, the details make a difference. However, we will provide generalities here.
Legally speaking, the trustee can be any adult that is of sound mind that is willing to assume the role. However, administering a trust is going to require a significant level of financial acumen.
The trustee must have the time that it takes to do the job, and the commitment can be considerable in some cases. You also have to be concerned about conflicts of interest and anticipated longevity. There are certain rules that must be followed under the laws of the state of Nevada, and this is another consideration.
If you don’t know a willing, suitable candidate, or if the administration of your trust is going to be an ongoing, complex task, there is a solution. You could use a corporate trustee like a trust company or the trust section of a bank. When you go this route, a licensed financial professional will be at the helm to manage the trust effectively, and there will be inherent oversight.
We are here to help if you would like to discuss your estate planning goals with a licensed attorney. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.
A lot of people look at estate planning as an exercise in slicing a pie into pieces of different sizes. Of course, you have to determine exactly what you would like to leave to each person on your inheritance list. However, there is another dimension that many people do not think about.
You should also consider the life situation of the people that will be receiving inheritances from you when you are gone. In this blog post, we will look at two scenarios that can be addressed in certain effective ways.
Special Needs Planning
If you are going to be leaving an inheritance to someone with special needs, you must consider the impact it will have on government benefit eligibility. Most people with disabilities rely on Medicaid as a source of health insurance. This program is only available to people with limited financial resources.
Clearly, a significant percentage of individuals with special needs cannot work and earn income. There is a program called Supplemental Security Income that provides financial help for qualified people, and once again, this is a need-based program.
Once eligibility is gained, it is not necessarily permanent. A change in financial status can trigger a loss of benefits. For this reason, you have to take the right steps to provide for a loved one with a disability in the ideal manner.
Under these circumstances, you could establish a supplemental needs trust. To implement this strategy, you fund the trust, and you name a trustee to act as the trust administrator. The person with a disability would be the beneficiary.
Medicaid and SSI do not satisfy all the needs of recipients, so assets in a supplemental needs trust could be used to provide goods and services that are not covered by these programs. As long as the trustee acts within the guidelines, benefit eligibility would not be negatively impacted.
Not everyone is good at managing money, and if you are going to be leaving an inheritance to a beneficiary with spendthrift tendencies, you should take certain precautions. One way to address this would be to make this individual the beneficiary of a revocable living trust.
To go this route, you fund the trust, and you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living, so there is no loss of control. You name a successor trustee in the trust declaration along with your spendthrift heir as the successor beneficiary.
After you die, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the beneficiary would not be able to change the terms or directly access the funds that are in the trust. The trustee would distribute assets to the beneficiary in accordance with your wishes.
So, let’s say that you have income producing assets in the trust. To provide a very simple hypothetical example, the assets earn $60,000 a year. You could instruct the trustee to distribute $5000 to the beneficiary each month, and principal would remain intact to generate income over the long haul.
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We have looked at just two of many different scenarios that can be addressed through custom crafted estate planning strategies. If you would like to access more information on the subject, you are in luck.
Our Reno living trust lawyers go the extra mile to provide educational opportunities, and to this end, they are holding a number of Webinars over the coming weeks. They are being offered on a complimentary basis, but we do ask that you register in advance for the session that fits into your schedule.
You can get all the details and obtain registration information if you take a moment to visit our Webinar page.
At Anderson, Dorn & Rader, we feel a responsibility to do everything possible to make accurate estate planning information available to members of the greater Reno-Sparks community.
Many people don't take action because they don't understand why action is necessary, or where to start. When you become apprised of the facts you are likely going to be motivated to take the appropriate steps for the well-being of those that you love.
There are many ways that we endeavor to make information available including the ongoing informative posts that we consistently offer here on our firm's blog.
We have also developed quite a library of informative estate planning reports that can be downloaded and read at your convenience. Currently we are offering access to our report on living trusts.
Should you be interested in downloading our free report (that is informational in nature rather than being promotional) simply click this link: Nevada Living Trust Report
A living trust can be a very attractive alternative to a last will as a primary vehicle of asset transfer. This is largely because of the fact that these transfers can take place directly between the trustee and the beneficiaries absent the need for probate court supervision.
This free report will provide you with all the details regarding the benefits of living trusts. There is no substitute for sound information coming from a truly reliable source, and we urge you to take advantage of this valuable educational opportunity.
We are available to provide you with information about our free educational Webinars that include a free consultation if you have further questions after you read the report. To register or get more information, simply give us a call at (775) 823-9455 or get in touch through the contact page on our website.