One of the major decisions you’ll need to make when establishing a trust is who will act as your trustee. As the name implies, this individual or financial institution must be above reproach. But that’s just one quality of many that your trustee requires. Other qualities include an understanding of tax and trust law, integrity […]

When planning your estate, you’re likely to focus on major assets, such as real estate, investments and retirement plans. But it’s also important to “sweat the small stuff” (your tangible personal property). Examples include jewelry, antiques and photographs. Your heirs may squabble over these items, which can lead to emotionally charged disputes and even litigation. […]

Planning your estate around specific assets is risky and, in most cases, should be avoided. If you leave specific assets, such as homes, cars or stock, to specific people, you may inadvertently disinherit them or leave them less than you intended. This can happen because you sell the assets and neglect to revise your will […]

Estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your assets after you die. It’s also about protecting yourself and your loved ones. This includes having a plan for making critical medical decisions in the event you’re unable to make them yourself. A living will expresses your preferences for the use of life-sustaining medical procedures, such […]

words - formula funding clause

It’s not unusual for older estate plans to include a “formula funding clause,” which splits assets between a credit shelter trust and the surviving spouse (either outright or in a marital trust). A formula clause works well when an estate is substantially larger than the exemption amount. However, now that the estate tax exemption is […]

scrabble tiles spell out life insurance

Today, estate taxes are no longer a concern for the vast majority of families. But even for nontaxable estates, life insurance continues to offer estate planning benefits. For example, you can use life insurance to replace wealth that’s lost to long term care (LTC) expenses. Although LTC insurance is available, it can be expensive. For […]

Despite its name, the purpose of a spendthrift trust isn’t just to protect profligate heirs from themselves. Even the most financially responsible heirs can be exposed to frivolous lawsuits or unscrupulous creditors. A properly designed spendthrift trust can safeguard assets against such attacks. A variety of trusts can include this protection. It’s just a matter […]

If your estate plan includes a revocable trust (also known as a “living” trust), it’s critical to ensure that the trust is properly funded. Revocable trusts offer significant benefits, including probate avoidance. But these benefits aren’t available if you don’t fund the trust. Funding a living trust is a simple matter of transferring ownership of […]

If a trust is subject to high state income taxes, you may be able to change its residence to a state with low or no income taxes. While the advantages are many, it’s important to review both states’ laws for determining a trust’s “residence” for tax and other purposes. Typically, states make this determination based […]

A pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement in all 50 states that allows you to set aside funds for your pet’s care in the event you die or become disabled. After the pet dies, any remaining funds are distributed among your heirs as directed by the trust terms. The basic guidelines are comparable to […]