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What Is Next for Your Estate Plan?

Having an estate plan is a great way to ensure you and your loved ones are protected today and in the future. When creating an estate plan, we look at what is going on in your life at that time. But because life is full of changes, it is important to make sure your plan can change to accommodate whatever life throws your way. Sometimes, we can make your first estate plan flexible to account for potential life changes. Other times, we must change or add to the tools we use to ensure that your ever-evolving wishes will be carried out the way you want.

Family in their new estate

Life Changes that Could Impact the Tools in Your Estate Plan

Life is constantly changing. The following are some important events that may require you to reevaluate your estate plan:

Ways We Can Enhance Your Estate Plan

It is important to know when you create your first estate plan that you are not locked into this plan for the rest of your life. The following are common changes we can make to your estate plan to ensure that we adequately address your evolving concerns and wishes.

Transitioning from a Last Will and Testament to a Revocable Living Trust

A will (sometimes referred to as a last will and testament) is a tool that allows you to leave your money and property to anyone you choose. It names a trusted decision-maker (a personal representative or executor) to wind up your affairs at your death, lists how your money and property will be distributed, and appoints a guardian to care for your minor children. If you rely on a will as your primary estate planning tool, the probate court will oversee the entire administration process at your death, but the probate process is expensive, time-consuming, and on the public record.

On the other hand, a revocable living trust is a tool in which a trustee is appointed to hold title to and manage the accounts and property that you transfer to your trust for one or more beneficiaries. Typically, you will serve as the initial trustee and be the primary beneficiary. If you are incapacitated (unable to manage your affairs), the backup trustee will step in and manage the trust for your benefit with little interruption and with less potential for costly court involvement. Upon your death, the backup trustee manages and distributes the money and property according to your instructions in the trust document, again without court involvement.

If your wealth has grown or you have new loved ones to provide for, you may find the privacy, expediency, and potential cost-savings associated with a revocable living trust more appropriate for your situation. Consult with Estate Planning Reno to see if this option is right for you.

Adding an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

At some point, you may decide that you need life insurance—or more of it—to provide for your loved ones sufficiently. If the value of your life insurance is especially high, you may want to consider adding protection for the funds in your estate plan, as well as engaging in estate tax planning. Both goals can be accomplished by using an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT). Once you create the ILIT, you fund it either by transferring ownership of an existing life insurance policy into the trust or by having the trust purchase a new life insurance policy. Once the trust owns a policy, you then make cash gifts to the trust to pay for the insurance premiums. These gifts can count against your annual gift tax exclusion, so you likely will not owe taxes at the point of these transfers. Upon your death, the trust receives the death benefit of the policy, and the trustee holds and distributes the money according to your instructions in the trust document. This tool allows you to remove the value of the life insurance policy and the death benefit from your taxable estate while allowing you to control what will happen to the death benefit. An ILIT can also be helpful if you want to name beneficiaries for the trust who differ from the beneficiaries you name in other estate planning tools.

Adding a Charitable Trust

As you accumulate more wealth or become more philanthropically inclined, you may wish to include separate tools to benefit a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Depending on your unique tax situation, using tools such as a charitable remainder or charitable lead trust can allow you to use your accounts or property that are increasing in value to benefit the charity while offering you some potential tax deductions.

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is a tool designed to potentially reduce both your taxable income during life and estate tax exposure when you die by transferring cash or property out of your name (in other words, you will no longer be the owner). As part of this strategy, you will fund the trust with the money or property of your choosing. The property will then be sold, and the sales proceeds will be invested in a way that will produce a stream of income. The CRT is designed so that when it sells the property, the CRT will not have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of the stocks or real estate. Once the stream of income from the CRT is initiated, you will receive either a set amount of money per year or a fixed percentage of the value of the trust (depending on how the trust is worded) for a term of years. When the term is over, the remaining amount in the trust will be distributed to the charity you have chosen.

A charitable lead trust (CLT) operates in much the same way as the CRT. The major difference is that the charity, rather than you as the trustmaker, receives the income stream for a term of years. Once the term has passed, the individuals you have named in the trust agreement will receive the remainder. This can be an excellent way to benefit a charity while still providing for your loved ones. Also, you may receive a deduction for the value of the charitable gifts that are made periodically over the term. These deductions may offset the gift or estate tax that may be owed when the remaining amount is given to your beneficiaries.

Adding Documents to Care for Your Minor Child

If you have not reviewed your estate plan since having or adopting children, you should consider incorporating some additional tools into your estate plan. An important tool recognized in Nevada is a document that grants temporary guardianship over your minor child. This can be used if you are traveling without your child or are in a situation where you are unable to quickly respond to your child’s emergency. This document gives a designated individual the authority to make decisions on behalf of the minor child (with the exception of agreeing to the marriage or adoption of the child). This document is usually only effective for six months to a year but can last for a longer or shorter period, depending on your state’s law. You still maintain the ability to make decisions for your child, but you empower another person to have this authority in the event you cannot address the situation immediately.

Let Us Elevate Your Planning

We are committed to making sure that your wishes are carried out in the way that you want. For us to do our job, we must ensure that your wishes are properly documented and that any relevant changes in your circumstances are accounted for in your estate plan. If you need an estate plan review or update, give us a call. Our expert team at Estate Planning Reno is here to assist you.

Don't Let This Crucial Question Derail Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is a vital step in securing your legacy and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, one crucial question often derails even the most well-thought-out estate plans: "Are my beneficiary designations up-to-date and accurate?" As estate planning attorneys in Reno, we at Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd. are here to help you understand the importance of beneficiary designations and how to ensure they align with your overall estate plan.

estate planning attorneys in Reno helping clients

Understanding Beneficiary Designations and Their Role in Estate Plans

What Are Beneficiary Designations?

Beneficiary designations are instructions you provide to financial institutions, insurance companies, and retirement plan administrators, specifying who should receive the proceeds of your accounts upon your death. These designations override your will and trust, making them a crucial element of your estate plan.

Why They Matter

Beneficiary designations ensure that your assets are transferred quickly and directly to the intended recipients without the need for probate. This can save time, reduce legal fees, and provide immediate financial support to your beneficiaries. However, they must be carefully managed to avoid conflicts and ensure they reflect your current wishes.

Common Mistakes Made When Designating Beneficiaries and How to Avoid Them

Failing to Update Beneficiary Information

One of the most common mistakes is failing to update beneficiary information after major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one. Outdated beneficiary designations can lead to unintended recipients, causing family disputes and legal complications.

Naming Minor Children as Beneficiaries

Naming minor children as beneficiaries without establishing a trust or appointing a guardian can create legal challenges, as minors cannot legally manage inherited assets. Instead, consider setting up a trust or appointing a guardian to manage the assets until the children reach adulthood.

Ignoring Contingent Beneficiaries

Failing to name contingent beneficiaries—those who will inherit if the primary beneficiary predeceases you—can result in your assets becoming part of your probate estate, defeating the purpose of having beneficiary designations. Always include contingent beneficiaries to ensure your estate plan is comprehensive.

How Outdated Beneficiary Information Can Conflict with Wills and Trusts

Conflicts Between Designations and Wills

If your beneficiary designations do not align with your will or trust, the designations will take precedence, potentially leading to outcomes that contradict your estate planning intentions. For example, if your will leaves all assets to your spouse, but your beneficiary designations name a former spouse, the former spouse will receive those assets.

Potential Legal Disputes

Conflicting information can lead to legal disputes among family members, causing delays and increasing the cost of estate administration. Ensuring that your beneficiary designations are consistent with your overall estate plan helps prevent such conflicts and ensures your wishes are honored.

Steps to Take Today to Review and Update Your Beneficiary Designations

Conduct a Comprehensive Review

Take the time to review all your financial accounts, insurance policies, and retirement plans to ensure the beneficiary designations are current and accurately reflect your wishes. This includes checking for primary and contingent beneficiaries.

Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney

Working with experienced estate planning attorneys in Reno can help you navigate the complexities of beneficiary designations. An attorney can provide guidance on the best strategies for aligning your designations with your overall estate plan and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Regularly Update Your Estate Plan

Make it a habit to review and update your estate plan, including beneficiary designations, at least once a year or after significant life events. Regular updates help ensure that your estate plan remains accurate and effective, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Beneficiary designations play a critical role in your estate plan, but they are often overlooked. By understanding their importance, avoiding common mistakes, and ensuring they are consistent with your overall estate plan, you can safeguard your assets and ensure your legacy is managed according to your wishes.

Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd. for a consultation to learn how real estate administration works and how you can properly prepare for it. Let us help you navigate the legal landscape to secure your legacy and provide peace of mind for your loved ones.

As a parent, ensuring the well-being and future of your child is paramount. However, unforeseen circumstances such as illness or incapacity can disrupt your ability to provide care. Understanding how to plan for these possibilities is crucial. By working with an incapacity planning attorney in Reno, you can ensure that your child's future is secure, no matter what happens. This article will explore the importance of legal guardianship, setting up a trust for your children, choosing the right guardian, and Nevada state laws regarding custody and guardianship.

Understanding Legal Guardianship

What is Legal Guardianship?

Legal guardianship is a legal process that allows an individual to be appointed to care for a minor child if the parents are unable to do so. This can occur due to various reasons such as incapacity, death, or other unforeseen circumstances. The guardian assumes the responsibilities of raising the child, including making decisions about their education, health care, and overall well-being.

Importance of Establishing Guardianship

ensures that your child is cared for by someone you trust. It provides peace of mind knowing that your child's needs will be met and their best interests will be protected. Without a legal guardian in place, the court may appoint someone who may not align with your wishes or values.

Benefits of Setting Up a Trust for Children

Financial Security through Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to manage and protect your assets for the benefit of your child. Setting up a trust can provide financial security for your child by ensuring that funds are available for their education, healthcare, and other essential needs. A trust can also specify how and when the funds should be distributed, preventing potential misuse.

Types of Trusts for Minors

There are different types of trusts you can set up for your children. A common option is a revocable living trust, which allows you to maintain control of the assets during your lifetime and designate a trustee to manage them if you become incapacitated. Another option is an irrevocable trust, which offers tax benefits and protection from creditors but cannot be altered once established.

How to Choose a Guardian for Your Child

Factors to Consider

Choosing a guardian for your child is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Some factors to keep in mind include the potential guardian's values, parenting style, financial stability, and willingness to take on the responsibility. It's also essential to consider the relationship between the guardian and your child to ensure a smooth transition.

Communicating Your Decision

Once you have chosen a guardian, it's important to communicate your decision with them and ensure they are willing to accept the role. It's also advisable to have a backup guardian in case the primary choice is unable to fulfill the responsibilities. Documenting your choice in your estate plan and discussing it with family members can help prevent conflicts and ensure your wishes are respected.

Nevada State Laws Regarding Custody and Guardianship

Legal Requirements in Nevada

Nevada state laws have specific requirements and procedures for establishing guardianship. It typically involves filing a petition with the court, providing notice to interested parties, and attending a court hearing. The court will consider the best interests of the child when determining guardianship.

Working with an Estate Planning Attorney

Navigating the legal requirements for guardianship in Nevada can be complex. Working with an experienced incapacity planning attorney in Reno can help you understand the legal process and ensure all necessary documents are properly prepared. An attorney can also provide guidance on other aspects of your estate plan, such as setting up trusts and powers of attorney.
Planning for your child's future in the event of your incapacity is a critical aspect of estate planning. By understanding legal guardianship, setting up a trust, carefully choosing a guardian, and complying with Nevada state laws, you can ensure your child's well-being and security. Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd. for a personalized consultation to discuss your estate planning needs, including guardianship options.

Ensuring the financial stability and care of a loved one with disabilities is a crucial concern for many families. One effective way to secure their future while preserving eligibility for essential government benefits is by setting up a special needs trust. At Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd. in Reno, we specialize in helping families navigate this complex process, providing peace of mind and financial security for their loved ones.

Understanding Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust (SNT) is a legal arrangement designed to benefit individuals with disabilities while preserving their eligibility for government assistance programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. These trusts are created to hold assets that can be used for the beneficiary's supplemental needs without jeopardizing their access to these critical benefits.

Preserving Government Benefit Eligibility

One of the primary reasons families consider a special needs trust is to ensure that the beneficiary remains eligible for government programs. SSI and Medicaid have strict income and asset limits; receiving a large sum of money directly can disqualify an individual from these programs. A special needs trust allows funds to be set aside for the beneficiary's use without being counted as personal assets.

This careful planning ensures that your loved one can continue to receive the essential support provided by these programs while also benefiting from the additional resources available through the trust.

Setting Up a Special Needs Trust: Key Considerations

When establishing a special needs trust, several factors must be taken into account to ensure it meets the legal requirements and effectively serves its purpose. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Type of Trust: Determine whether a first-party, third-party, or pooled special needs trust is most appropriate for your situation. Each type has different funding sources and implications for eligibility.
  2. Trust Document: The trust must be drafted carefully to comply with federal and state laws. It should explicitly state that the funds are to be used for supplemental needs and not for basic support, which government benefits cover.
  3. Funding the Trust: Decide how the trust will be funded. Common sources include inheritances, personal injury settlements, or contributions from family members.
  4. Choosing a Trustee: Selecting the right trustee is crucial. The trustee will manage the trust's assets, make distributions, and ensure that all legal requirements are met. It is often beneficial to appoint a professional trustee with experience in managing special needs trusts.

The Role of the Trustee

The trustee plays a vital role in managing a special needs trust. Their responsibilities include:

Given the complexity of these duties, families often choose to work with professional trustees or fiduciary services to ensure that the trust is managed effectively and in the best interest of the beneficiary.

Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd.

Setting up a special needs trust is a significant step in securing your loved one's future. At Anderson, Dorn & Rader Ltd., we understand the intricacies of these trusts and can guide you through the process with expertise and compassion. Contact us today for a personalized consultation to explore how a special needs trust can be tailored to your family's unique situation, ensuring that your loved one receives the care and support they need without compromising their eligibility for essential government benefits.

You may have seen the popular ABC TV show, Modern Family, which follows a fictional extended family through life’s ups and downs. It’s a relatable show that addresses many issues life throws our way. Just like the families depicted in the series, it’s crucial to have an estate plan to protect loved ones when someone passes, or becomes unfit to manage their finances. Let’s take a look at some situations that arise in Modern Family episodes and how you can apply the lessons learned to your own situation.

Happy family traveling by car.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Throughout the Modern Family series, various family members start and own businesses. No matter if it’s a passion project, investment opportunity, or owner-operator business, it should have a plan for the future.

Multi-Generational and Blended Families

The “traditional” lines in familial relationships can get blurred within multi-generational, blended families. For example, Jay often refers to Manny as his son, even though he’s technically his stepson (the child from Gloria’s previous marriage). Though he loves Manny as if he were his own son, the law doesn’t take these emotions into account when it comes to transferring business interests. Legally, stepchildren have no right to inherit a stepparent’s money or property. In situations like these, documentation should be created if you want any assets to be left to stepchildren, including your business interests.

Providing Guidance for Future Generations

There are several minors within the Modern Family series that would require guardianship in the event that their parents pass away. While Manny expressed a desire to serve as Joe's guardian if Gloria and Jay pass, it is important for them to formally nominate their preferred guardian in their wills. However, it should be noted that such a nomination is not binding and may be contested by others. To mitigate the risk of potential disputes and ensure Joe's wellbeing, it is advisable for Jay and Gloria to have open and candid discussions with both of their families to prevent any possibility of a guardianship dispute.

Rex and Lily would also require guardianship in the event of the passing of their parents. Without a comprehensive estate plan in place, it is possible that a dispute may arise between the families of Cameron and Mitchell. While Lily has spent a significant portion of her life close to Mitchell's family, later in the show, Lily and Rex move to reside with their parents in Missouri, which is closer to Cameron's family. As a result, Rex may develop a stronger bond with Cameron's family as he grows up, which could potentially lead to conflicts between the Pritchett and Tucker families if guardianship for these two children becomes necessary. To avoid such a scenario, it is imperative for Cameron and Mitchell to establish an appropriate estate plan.

Finally, it is important for Poppy and George to have designated guardians in the event that their parents, Haley and Dylan, die. While the family may not possess significant financial assets or property, it is crucial for them to establish basic plans for their children's care, including the appointment of primary and alternate guardians. When the show ends, Haley and Dylan have moved out of Phil and Claire's residence, but still nearby. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Farah, Dylan's mother, has become increasingly involved in their lives since the announcement of Haley's pregnancy. It is possible that she may express an interest in assuming the role of guardian for the children in the event of the untimely passing of Haley and Dylan.

As a parent of minor children, it is crucial to consider and plan for the potential guardianship of your children should the unexpected occur. While no one can replace a parent's love and care, it is essential to formally nominate a guardian in a last will and testament or through a separate legal document, as permitted by state laws. While the court ultimately makes the final determination, clearly expressing your wishes can provide peace of mind. Furthermore, discussing potential guardianship with your family members in advance can help prevent disputes and ensure that your wishes are respected upon your passing.

How to Protect a Surviving Spouse

As all married couples know, the question of what will happen in the event of the first spouse's death is important to consider. For couples like Phil and Claire, who have built and accumulated their assets during the course of their marriage, it may be natural to consider everything they own as jointly held. Both partners may wish for all assets to pass to the surviving spouse. However, without proper planning, leaving assets outright to a surviving spouse can leave them vulnerable to creditors and predators.

It is important to consider potential scenarios, such as the possibility of a scam artist exploiting a well-intentioned person like Phil, or a successful woman like Claire remarrying and unintentionally disinheriting her children by leaving all assets to her new spouse. To safeguard assets for the surviving spouse, regardless of whether it is their first or third marriage, a qualified terminable interest trust can be an effective solution. This designation of trust allows the surviving spouse to receive annual income from the trust and withdraw principal for specific purposes like health, support, education, and maintenance. It also grants you the power to choose where any remaining assets are allocated upon the death of your spouse.

How Much Will Each Family Member Receive?

In blended families, as seen on Modern Family, there are a variety of options for inheritance distribution. As Jay prepares his estate plan, it is important for him to consider how he wishes to divide his assets among his family members. This includes his spouse, two adult children from a previous marriage, a minor son, and an adult stepson, as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He will need to make decisions regarding the distribution of assets, including the beneficiaries, the amount, and the timing of the distribution. He will need to consider whether it would be more beneficial to provide for his current spouse, Gloria, through a trust during her lifetime, with the remainder going to his other children, Claire, Mitchell, and Joe upon her death — or if his children should receive their portion of the inheritance while Gloria is still alive. Additionally, he will need to decide if he wants to provide for his stepson, Joe, or leave that responsibility to Gloria if she survives him.

When formulating an estate plan, it is crucial to consider the legal requirements for providing for a surviving spouse. In certain jurisdictions, there is a mandated minimum inheritance, known as the elective share, that must be allocated to the surviving spouse. Additionally, in states with community property laws, a surviving spouse may be entitled to a portion of assets acquired during the marriage. While one may assume that their spouse can support themselves without an inheritance, it is essential to have open and thorough discussions about estate planning, and document any agreements to ensure that the surviving spouse's rights and needs are protected. Without proper planning and documentation, a surviving spouse may unhinge the distribution of assets if they have not been taken into consideration within the estate plan, and haven’t waved their minimum inheritance rights.

Phil and Claire will need to evaluate their familial situation and devise a plan to distribute their assets and financial assets among their children and grandchildren. Given the distinct characteristics of their three children, it is important to consider each of their individual needs. For example, Haley, as a mother of two, may require a larger portion of the inheritance to support her children. Phil and Claire may elect to set aside a specific fund for their grandchildren. Alex is very smart and her education or employment opportunities may not require as much financial support. Luke, on the other hand, may benefit from trust money to pursue his business ventures and protect him from impulsive decisions.

An estate plan is a valuable tool for ensuring the protection of assets and financial resources for families of all sizes and backgrounds, not only those depicted in television series. The estate planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader are dedicated to collaborating with families to develop a personalized plan that reflects the unique characteristics woven into each one. Reach out to our knowledgeable staff to see how we can assist your modern family with a financial plan for the future.

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.

An Overview of Purpose Trusts

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.

Happy senior couple walking together in a forest.

Patagonia’s Purpose Trust

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.

Why Transfer Your Business Interests to a Purpose Trust?

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.

Legal Trusts for Mental IllnessWhen a loved one suffers from a mental illness, one small comfort can be knowing that your trust can take care of them through thick and thin. There are some ways this can happen, ranging from the funding of various types of treatment to providing structure and support during his or her times of greatest need. 

Let’s explore a few ways you can help take care of a loved one struggling with mental illness with the help of your estate planning attorney:

It can contribute to voluntary treatment

Trusts can be disbursed in many ways. If your loved one is involved in an inpatient care facility or an ongoing outpatient program, you can structure your trust so that its disbursements cover the costs of that treatment as time goes on. This also helps your loved one because it relieves them of the responsibility of managing large sums of money on their own. They can rest easier knowing that their care is covered without having to set up a complicated payment plan on their own. 

In some cases, the person suffering from mental illness doesn’t have the capacity to enroll themselves in the right type of care. If an intervention of care is needed, your trust can also help encourage involuntary treatment that ultimately serves your loved one’s best interests in the long run. 

Trustees can help watch over them

Mental Illness TrusteeSelecting a trustee isn’t always an easy feat. That’s one of many decision-making areas where we’re more than happy to step in and walk you through the process. When you have a loved one battling mental illness, your choice of a trustee becomes even more of a nuanced decision. 

We’ll help you deduce the perfect person to not only manage the wealth contained within the trust but also keep a compassionate watchful eye on your loved one benefitting from the trust. An astute trustee can look for early warning signs surrounding your loved one’s mental health issue and make sure to get them connected to the care and services they need in no time.

Lifetime trusts provide structure and support

Most people don’t think of large inheritances as a burden. But this can be the case when an individual is dealing with depression, anxiety, hoarding, or diseases like schizophrenia. Lifetime trusts are an excellent way to take care of your loved one without saddling them with a challenge on top of what they are already experiencing. 

A discretionary lifetime trust can be drafted in such a way that its funds can only be used to go toward certain goods and services — such as outpatient mental health care, housing, or other “necessaries” of life. Likewise, it can also prohibit spending in areas that would cause more harm than good — gambling or compulsive shopping, for example. The discretionary nature of these types of trusts makes it so your loved one doesn’t have to worry about their own potential missteps when it comes to using the wealth contained within the trust. 

 

Do you have a family member or other loved one who could use the financial flexibility and structural support of a trust? Give us a call today, and together we’ll figure out the best ways to enhance your loved one’s life by finding the right estate planning tools to offer the most help.

Trust Funding: Is Everything Titled Correctly?

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. 

How to Fund Your Trust

Titled Trust FundsFunding 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: 

  1. Transfer ownership of your accounts and property from you (individually) to yourself as a trustee of your trust. 
  2. Designate beneficiaries and name the trust as a beneficiary on other types of property such as life insurance.

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:

Cash Accounts (Checking & Savings)  

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 and Real Property

Real EstateReal 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. 

Investments

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 Items

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.

Life Insurance

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

Trust Funds Retirement AssetsRetirement 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. 

Other Assets to Consider

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:

Trust Funding with Reputable Estate Planning Attorneys AD&R

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.

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States are all over the board on their income taxation. An individual in a state with a high state tax rate could use a nongrantor trust to hold some of their income-producing assets and thereby avoid state income taxation on the income from those assets.

Briefly, trusts may be taxed as grantor trusts or nongrantor trusts. A grantor trust is taxed directly to the grantor, so this type of trust doesn’t help if you’re trying to avoid your state of residence’s income tax. However, a nongrantor trust is a separate taxpayer. As such, a nongrantor trust could be a resident of a different state than its grantor.

Let’s look at a quick example: Mary sets up an irrevocable nongrantor trust in Nevada, a state without any state income tax. She avoids any triggers for the trust being a resident in any other state. The trust has no income that would be deemed sourced from another state. Thus, the income of the trust would face no state income taxation.

However, states have complicated rules on when they will try to tax a nongrantor trust as a resident. States tax based on where the trust is administered / trustee is resident, where the beneficiary is resident, where the grantor was resident when the trust became irrevocable, etc.

Each state has a different set of rules. Here’s a link to a helpful chart of those rules for nongrantor trusts.

Just because a trust is administered in a state without an income tax does not mean that other states might not try to claim the trust as a resident of their states. Let’s look again at the example of Mary’s trust set up in Nevada. If Mary were a resident of Maine when she set up the trust, Maine would consider the trust a resident of Maine. If the beneficiaries of the trust were residents of California, California would consider the trust a resident of California. When a state considers a nongrantor trust to be a resident, it will tax it on all its income, not just the income derived from sources within that state.

Kaestner v. North Carolina examines the constitutionality of a state taxing a trust as a resident when the trust is not administered in the state and the trustee doesn’t live in the state. The North Carolina Supreme Court held it was unconstitutional for the state to tax the trust under those circumstances because there weren’t sufficient contacts with the state. Here’s a link to that case. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal in the case, so we could see new developments in this area before too long.

If you set up an irrevocable nongrantor trust in a state without a state income tax and you scrupulously avoid triggers which would consider the trust to be a resident of any other state, you can avoid state income taxation on the assets you put in the trust. Kaestner could simplify this process.

living trustOften, the smallest things have the most sentimental value. Your grandmother’s silverware or your grandfather’s railroad watch could connect you to them in a special way. Your mother’s ring or your father’s Boyscout bugle could hold a special place in your heart. Your sports memorabilia could connect you to one of your children in a unique way. You may want those items to go to particular beneficiaries who will cherish their sentimental value as you have. There’s an easy and flexible way to do that.

When your will or trust is drafted, it can include a disposition of “tangible personal property” through a list external to the document. Tangible personal property includes things you can touch, like the items listed in the paragraph above. It does not include real estate or intangible assets like bank accounts, cash, etc.

In most (if not all) states, if your will or trust references a tangible personal property list external to the will or trust, the list is valid to transfer the items detailed on that list to the beneficiary identified. The list would reference your will or trust and would provide for the disposition of the specific item of tangible personal property with a description of the item and to whom it should go. The list must be signed and dated every time you update it.

The unique thing about the tangible personal property list is that it does not need to be executed with the formalities of a will or trust. For example, the list does not need to be witnessed or notarized, even though the document referencing the list needed additional formalities. If you change your mind, you can simply update the list and sign it and date it again.

The list is an easy and flexible way to earmark items to your desired beneficiary. The flexibility can be important. Let’s say that you have an athletic daughter and you were leaving all your sports memorabilia to her. Then, your grandson earns an award in a swimming event. You may want to decide to give your diving trophy to your grandson since it’s a way for him to remember the special bond you share. You can simply update the list with the new disposition and sign it and date it.

Often, clients want to continue to control their beneficiaries after death, just as they’ve done during their lifetime. They want to etch in stone the exact circumstances under which distributions should be made to the beneficiaries. Sometimes they think the beneficiary will have to go to the tombstone like a confessional or ATM.
The problem is the client doesn’t know what may happen in the intervening years. Here are just a few of the several things that regularly change after a plan has been drafted:

Rather than trying to precisely anticipate every possible future scenario, which is a fool’s errand, it’s better to put that in the hands of the trustee. The trustee can be given discretion to withhold distributions based on pre-set factors such as:

That’s not to say you shouldn’t set forth your general wishes. But, most of the specifics should be left for the trustee to decide.
For example, a client in San Francisco in 1990 might have decided to provide for a beneficiary’s rent and set forth a specific dollar amount of $1,000 to cover it, expecting that would be ample. It would be much better to give the trustee discretion to pay for the beneficiary’s support, in the trustee’s discretion. Imagine how the average rents have changed over two decades in San Francisco, where the rent of even a studio apartment is now over $2400. If a specific dollar amount were used, even inflation-adjusted, it would not allow the flexibility to respond to the changing world. Giving the trustee discretion achieves the desired result: to pay for the beneficiary’s rent.
The trustee selected by the client is in a much better position to judge when a distribution should be made, for rent in the prior example. The first five letters say exactly what you should do with them: t-r-u-s-t them. Trust that the trustee will make the right decision. If you don’t trust that person, put someone in that role whom you do trust.
The client can only gaze into a crystal ball and wonder what might happen in the world and in the beneficiary’s life. Trustees have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. They know what has happened since the client drafted their estate plan and died. They know the beneficiary’s circumstances and they know the current state of the world. They are in a far better position to make a decision.
If you would like to learn more about wills and trusts or other estate planning matters, attend one of our upcoming Webinars. They are free to attend, and you can get all the details if you visit our Webinar information page.  Or you can call us to arrange a free consultation to discuss living trusts, or other estate planning matters, at (775) 823-9455.

Once the world began to get over the shock of the death of music legend and golden girl Whitney Houston, reports began to surface that there was trouble brewing with regard to her estate. Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room at the age of 48 and left behind only one heir -- 18 year old Bobbi Kristina. While fans rushed to buy anything related to Houston, Houston’s family was already poised for a fight over her estate with Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown. With the news this week that Houston left behind a trust, everyone in Houston’s camp can breath a sigh of relief.
Despite unprecedented success in her professional career throughout the 90s, Houston was plagued with personal problems as a result of a battle with drug and alcohol addiction as well as a stormy relationship with Bobbi Kristina’s father, singer Bobby Brown. After finally divorcing Brown in 2007, Houston appeared to be on the road to a comeback when she was found dead last month.
While Houston’s daughter is of age to inherit directly, she allegedly battles her own issues with drugs and alcohol, making her susceptible to a claim that she is unable to handle her own finances and in need of a conservator. Houston’s family was reportedly worried that Brown would petition a court to become her conservator, effectively gaining control of Houston’s fortune. Houston, however, apparently thought ahead and created a trust for Bobbi Kristina. By creating a trust, Houston put a stop to any attempts to gain control of the money and put control of the money in the hands of someone she hand picked as trustee.

A trust is often used as an estate planning tool in order to accomplish a variety of goals. At its most basic, a trust consists of a grantor (sometimes called a settlor, or trustor) who establishes the trust, a trustee who administers the trust assets, at least one beneficiary, and assets to fund the trust. Often, all three positions -- grantor, trustee and beneficiary -- can be held by the same person. Beyond that, trusts come in numerous forms that range in complexity; however, one simple distinction centers around whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. Understanding some of the important features of the two options can help you decide which one is right for you.
All funded trusts, including the revocable trust, avoid probate. What this means is that the funds held in the trust are not required to pass through the often lengthy legal process that follows the death of the grantor, making the trust benefits available to the beneficiaries in a much more timely fashion. A much more important aspect of a revocable trust is that a revocable trust, as implied by the name, can be revoked, amended or modified by the grantor at any time. This feature can be very important if you feel that you may wish to change the beneficiaries or the specific terms of the trust at some future point. This flexibility makes a revocable trust an attractive option for most people.
An irrevocable trust cannot be revoked, amended or modified without court intervention in most states. Under most circumstances, the grantor may not be the trustee or the beneficiary.  All control and access is delivered to an independent trustee and a third party beneficiary.  What the grantor receives, however, for giving up the ability to control the trust is asset protection, probate avoidance, possible estate tax avoidance and potential income tax and, when the beneficiary is a charity, capital gains tax advantages.  These are highly complex strategies and must be entered into with appropriate caution.  The expertise of a qualified estate planning attorney should always be sought.

When you create a trust, one of the most important decisions you must make is who to appoint to succeed you as your trustee. Although each trust is unique, there are some basic considerations that you may wish to take into account before making a decision regarding the appointment of a trustee.

Keep in mind that a qualified estate administration attorney can assist your successor trustee through all the issues of administration.
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