Articles Posted in Trusts

Although it was long predicted, the country is currently in the middle of the biggest transfer of assets in current history. The Federal Reserve reports that at the end of 2021’s first quarter, people in the United States who are 70 years of age and older had net worths of approximately $35 trillion.

The question of whether people in the United States will prepare to transfer assets depends on the extent of funds that pass on to attorneys, courts of love, and needy loved ones.

When someone you love passes away, assets are ideally passed to people and organizations chosen by the deceased individual. Many people are not adequately prepared to pass on assets, though. One study reveals that approximately 46% of Americans own wills, which are vital estate planning documents. Estate planning helps a person appoint who will take care of loved ones and determine how assets will be assigned after you pass away. While some people make the mistake of thinking that only the wealthiest individuals need estate plans, everyone including people of modest means need estate plans to achieve their estate planning goals.

Many people are curious about what happens after they are no longer able to manage their assets. Many chances are created when it comes to estate planning arrangements and trusts play a large role in estate planning. If you choose wisely, trusts fortunately can prove to be an excellent way to reduce the taxes ultimately placed on your estate.

Establishing a Trust

Trusts are a type of arrangement used to the advantage of entities or people that the trust creator selects. Trusts vary greatly in activation as well as how they are accessed. Trusts tend to break down into the following kinds:

The stock market over the last ten years has increased the valuation of many retirement accounts. Consequently, many people interested in estate planning are focused less on internal growth necessary for succession planning than at other times.

Inflation is much like gravity. Both rise and fall. With inflation occurring at substantial levels during the war in Ukraine, people interested in making the most of their estate plans should recognize that their plans ultimately might require a proactive effort. This article reviews some important details that you should consider when creating a strong succession plan.

Focus on Your Goal

If you’re creating a plan for what will happen to your estate after you pass away or become incapacitated, you’ve likely familiar with the advantages you can realize by creating a living trust. Items positioned in a trust do not pass through probate, which can be a costly and time-intensive process. Living trusts (also referred to as revocable trusts) let a person appoints a trust administrator to look after an estate after the creator passes away. 

Living trusts often simplify how assets in estates are passed on. Unfortunately, countless opportunities exist to make errors, especially if you’re tasked with transferring items to a trust. Certain kinds of accounts should never pass into a trust.  These certain accounts should not pass into a trust even in situations where they represent the majority of an estate. This category includes retirement accounts like 401(k) plans as well as other types of retirement accounts. 

If you pass on assets to a trust, the Internal Revenue Service will classify the interaction as a distribution and you will be required to pay income taxes.

In the recent case of MBM Family Trust, one party initiated legal action against another concerning a foreign judgment. The party who initiated the lawsuit later added a trustee of a trust that the plaintiff claimed helped the defendant conceal assets. The trustee pursued a special appearance and argued over personal jurisdiction.

Ultimately, the trial court did not accept this object. Instead, the trustee appealed. On appeal, the court found that claims intended to recover assets from a trust can only be brought against the trustee who is the trust’s legal representative. 

The appellate court commented that the trial court had evidence that the family trust was a lender and that the trustee stepped in to function as the lender of a home equity line. The home equity line of credit provided the line of credit was secured by a deed of trust to the trustee and apart from the home equity line. 

Over half the marriages in the United States result in divorce. For many people, divorce ends up being one of the most difficult experiences in their life. As a result, when attorneys present a person with divorce paperwork, this individual often fails to consider every little detail of how it will impact their life and does not update their estate plan. Unfortunately, failing to update estate planning documents after divorce could lead to many undesirable complications

A Hypothetical Situation

Imagine, a couple who got married in 2005. The wife had one daughter from a previous marriage. Even though the husband never officially adopted the girl, he treated the girl as she were his daughter during the marriage. A joint trust even referred to the girl as the couple’s “only living child” and named the girl as a residuary beneficiary. These terms have substantial meaning under the law and not considering these statements after a divorce can create substantial challenges.

As the country enters a third year of living in a pandemic, estate planning is seeing an increase in millennials who are surpassing the baby boomer generation as the generation who performs the most caregiving for both children and aging parents. 

Millennials are creating their own families, while simultaneously caring for their aging parents during a pandemic. This, in turn, is leading more caregivers to plan for the future. Even though millennials are taking responsibility for writing wills and creating trusts to establish families’ financial status, most adults in the United States lack an estate plan. Hopefully, by making digital estate planning as easy as possible, more people will create estate plans that achieve their wishes.

Key Findings from the Study

In a recent opinion, a Minnesota Appellate Court rejected a petition to revise a trust’s terms to permit the early distribution of trust assets to beneficiaries. The court also rejected a request by the petition for the trust to pay attorney’s fees and held that the litigation was neither necessary nor existed for the benefit of the trust. This opinion functions as a reminder of the high threshold that a person must overcome when beneficiaries attempt to revise a trust’s distribution terms.

The Court’s Decision

In Skarsten-Dineman v. Milton, a trust settlor established a revocable naming his six children as the primary beneficiaries following his death. Assets were to be passed to the man’s children until three of them had passed away then the trustee was to end the trust and pass on the principal equally divided to the surviving children. 

In the recent case of Riverside County Public Guardian v. Snukst, a California appellate Court resolved an issue involving the Medi-Cal program, which is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program. The program is overseen by the California Department of Health Services. In Riverside, the Department of Health Services pursued payment from a revocable inter vivos trust for the benefits provided on behalf of a person during his life. After the man’s death, the probate required the assets in the revocable inter vivos trust be passed on to the sole beneficiary instead of the Department of Health. 

The Court of Appeals determined that federal and state law involving revocable inter vivos trusts required the Department of Health receive funds from the trust before any distribution to the beneficiary. Subsequently, the judgment was reversed and remanded.

For trusts to work as a person wants, the trust must avoid future disagreements and disputes among those impacted by the trust’s terms. This article reviews some of the best things that you can do to avoid trust disputes.

In times of economic uncertainty, estate plans can benefit substantially from flexibility. As the country both continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as face the challenges brought on by new strains of COVID-19, it’s a good idea to consider how to make your estate plan flexible. Not to mention, looming changes brought on by changes to tax law also make it a good idea to consider flexibility while creating an estate plan.

What SPA Trusts Do

Special power of appointment (SPA)  trusts (or as they are sometimes called SPAT trusts) is a type of irrevocable trust in which either the creator or settlor of the trust grants appointment power to another person. The person who receives these powers functions in a non-fiduciary role to direct the trustee to make distributions to anyone except for the person who made the appointment of powers.

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