Category: Irrevocable Trust

Consider using a Trust Be for Long-Term Care

Consider using a Trust Be for Long-Term Care

More than a few seniors who are retired or nearing retirement lose sleep worrying over being able to afford the expense of long-term care, including nursing home care, which can cost thousands monthly. The fallback option for many Americans is Medicaid; according to a recent article, “Long-Term-Care planning using trusts,” from the Journal of Accountancy., Medicaid is a joint federal-state program requiring spending down assets. One option is to consider using a trust for long-term care.

To be eligible for long-term care through Medicaid, a person’s “countable” assets must fall below an extremely low ceiling—in some states, no more than $2,000, with some provisions in some states protecting the “well” spouse. States vary in terms of which assets are counted, with many exempting a primary residence, for example.

For many people, planning for Medicaid for long-term care may consider the use of an irrevocable trust. The basic idea is this: by transferring assets to an irrevocable trust at least five years before applying for Medicaid for long-term care, the Medicaid agency will not count those assets in determining whether Medicaid’s asset ceiling is satisfied.

If the planning is done wrong, there is a risk of not qualifying, thereby defeating the objective of creating the irrevocable trust. In addition, any tax planning may be undone, causing liquidity and other problems.

Some people plan to qualify for Medicaid even though they have asset levels as high as $2 million or more. Much of this may be the family’s primary residence, especially in locations like New York City, with its elevated real estate market. Costs at nursing homes are equally high, with nursing homes costing private-pay patients upwards of $20,000 a month, or $250,000 per year.

Timing is a key part of planning for Medicaid. Many estate planning attorneys recommend clients consider planning in their mid-to-late 60s or early 70s to move assets into a Medicaid Asset Preservation Trust, also called a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust.

This is because of Medicaid’s five-year lookback period. Most states have a five-year look-back period for both nursing home and home health care. If any transfer of countable assets has been made within the preceding five years of applying for long-term-care Medicaid, there will be a penalty period when the person or their family must pay for the care. The penalty is typically measured by the length of time the transferred assets could have paid for care, based on the average costs of the state or the region.

While there is no way to know when a person will need long-term care, statistically speaking, a person in their mid-to-late 60s or early 70s can expect to be healthy enough to satisfy the five-year lookback.

Why not simply make gifts to children during this time to become eligible for Medicaid? For one reason, there’s no way to prevent a child from spending money given to them for safekeeping. A trust will protect assets from a child’s creditors, and if the child should undergo a divorce, the assets won’t end up in the ex-spouse’s bank accounts.

Using a trust for Medicaid planning could be combined with gifts made to children or assets placed in trust for children, depending on the individual’s financial and familial circumstances.

The creation of a Medicaid Asset Preservation Trust is critical. The estate planning attorney must seek to accomplish two things: one, to say to Medicaid that the settlor, or creator of the trust, no longer owns the assets. At the same time, the IRS must see that the settlor still owns these assets and, therefore, receives a basis step-up at death.

If you are considering a trust for long-term care, an experienced estate planning attorney will be needed to advise you and create a Medicaid Asset Preservation Trust to meet the Medicaid and IRS requirements. If you would like to learn more about long-term care planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Journal of Accountancy (Oc. 9, 2023) “Long-Term-Care planning using trusts”

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How Does an Inheritance Trust Work?

How Does an Inheritance Trust Work?

How does an inheritance trust work? Don’t let the term “inheritance trust” intimidate you. It’s basically a way to safeguard assets, while managing their distribution efficiently. Trusts are also used to provide potential tax benefits, which can add significantly to a family’s financial security, according to a recent article from yahoo! finance, “How to Keep Money in the Family With an Inheritance Trust.” An estate planning attorney can guide you in establishing an inheritance trust, securing assets and protecting your family’s financial health. An inheritance or a family or testamentary trust is a legal arrangement to manage and protect assets for the benefit of heirs or beneficiaries after the grantor’s passing. Its key function is to ensure an efficient and controlled distribution of assets. These can be financial, real estate, or personal property of value.

Many types of trusts offer different levels of control, tax benefits and asset protection. For instance, a revocable trust lets the person who set up the trust or the trustee maintain control over the assets while living and make changes as they want to the terms of the trust.

In an irrevocable trust, the terms can’t be changed easily, which offers greater protection against creditors or legal disputes.

There’s also something called a “Generation Skipping Trust,” designed to transfer wealth directly to outright beneficiaries, typically grandchildren, to avoid repeated estate taxes on a family’s assets.

The inheritance trust provides a strong shield of protection for assets. By placing assets in a trust, they are safeguarded from creditors, lawsuits and even certain tax liabilities. This layer of protection ensures that assets go directly to beneficiaries without the risk of erosion by unexpected challenges.

Another reason for a trust—control of the distribution of assets. You establish the specific conditions and timelines for when and how assets are to be passed on to heirs. You may want to wait until they have reached a certain age, protect against reckless spending, or have the trust used solely for the long-term care of a loved one.

Inheritance trusts are also used to minimize estate taxes. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can plan for assets within the trust to potentially reduce the tax burden on your estate, allowing heirs to inherit more of the family’s earned wealth.

Trusts provide privacy. Unlike wills, trusts don’t become public documents. Trusts bypass the probate process, which can become a protracted and expensive public court proceeding. By placing assets in trust, the transfer of wealth is prompt and confidential.

For blended families or those with complex dynamics, inheritance trusts can help prevent disputes and ensure that assets are distributed according to your specific directions. For instance, if you want to leave assets to your children but protect them from their spouses in case of divorce, a trust can be created to address this issue. You might also wish your wealth to be distributed directly to grandchildren, not a son or daughter-in-law.

Start by working with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a comprehensive estate plan. He or she will help you understand how a inheritance trust works. This includes drafting a will, establishing trusts and assigning beneficiaries. Communicate with heirs, so they understand your intentions and expectations. Regularly review and update your plan every three to five years to be sure that it remains current and aligned with your goals. If you would like to learn more about various types of trusts, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: yahoo! finance (Oct. 3, 2023) “How to Keep Money in the Family With an Inheritance Trust”

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Which Trust, Revocable or Irrevocable?

Which Trust, Revocable or Irrevocable?

Kiplinger’s recent article entitled, “What to Consider When Deciding Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust,” explains that, as a legal entity, a trust can own assets such as real estate, brokerage accounts, life insurance, cars, bank accounts and personal belongings, like jewelry. Yet, which trust should you consider, revocable or irrevocable?

You transfer over the title and ownership of these assets to the trust. The instructions state what should happen to that property after you die, including who should receive it and when.

A revocable trust keeps your options open. As the grantor, you can change or revoke the trust anytime. This includes naming a different trustee or beneficiary. This gives you leverage over the inheritance. If your beneficiary doesn’t listen to you, you can still change the terms of the trust. You can also even take your assets back from a revocable trust. There are typically no tax consequences for doing so because only after-tax assets can be placed in a trust while you’re alive.

If a revocable trust seems much like owning the assets yourself, that’s because there’s really little difference in the eyes of the law. Assets in your revocable trust still count as part of your estate and aren’t sheltered from either estate taxes or creditors. However, it’s a smoother financial transition if something happens to you. If you die or can no longer manage your financial affairs, your successor trustee takes over and manages the trust assets according to your directions in the trust documents.

The second reason to have a revocable trust is that the trust assets bypass probate after you die. During probate, a state court validates your will and distributes your assets according to your written instructions. If you don’t have a will, your property is distributed according to state probate law. If you own homes in multiple states, your heirs must go through probate in each one. However, if that real estate is in a revocable trust, your heirs could address everything in your state of residence and receive their inheritance more quickly.

The contents of your revocable trust also remain private and out of bounds, whereas estates that go through probate are a matter of public record that anyone can access.

An irrevocable trust is harder to modify, and even revocable trusts eventually become irrevocable when the grantor can no longer manage their own financial affairs or dies. To change an irrevocable trust while you’re alive, the bar is high but not impossible to overcome. However, assets in an irrevocable trust generally don’t get a step up in basis. Instead, the grantor’s taxable gains are passed on to heirs when the assets are sold. Revocable trusts, like assets held outside a trust, do get a step up in basis so that any gains are based on the asset’s value when the grantor dies.

It is a wise idea to work with an estate planning attorney who will help you consider which trust you should use, a revocable or irrevocable kind. If you would to read more about trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Kiplinger (July 14, 2021) “What to Consider When Deciding Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust”

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Benefits and Drawbacks to a Funeral Trust

Benefits and Drawbacks to a Funeral Trust

An irrevocable funeral trust allows you to save for your end-of-life costs. It can be an excellent way to make arrangements for your burial. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to a irrevocable funeral trust. Be sure you have the flexibility you need since irrevocable trusts can’t be modified after they go into effect.

The main point is that you cover the costs yourself. Remember that even if your will leaves behind money to pay for your funeral, it must go through the probate process. Your heirs may still be required to pay for your funeral upfront and hope to collect reimbursement from your will. But with a funeral trust, these payments are handled automatically.

The next point is that you (or your heirs) can pay less. The funeral trust pays for your funeral with the proceeds of its life insurance policy or other investments. This means that you may pay less upfront than you would otherwise, explains Yahoo Finance’s  recent article, “Pros and Cons of an Irrevocable Funeral Trust.”

The details of those costs are varied based on the individual trust fund. Some funeral trusts only cover basic services, like a casket, burial, or cremation. But others will pay for a full funeral ceremony, with any associated officiants, transportation, and other costs. This can make the planning process easier for your family because if you set up a funeral trust that comes with specific, pre-arranged costs and services, all of those details will already be arranged when you pass away. Your family won’t have to go through finding a funeral home and making arrangements.

Another benefit to an irrevocable funeral trust is Medicaid eligibility. Because you no longer own these assets, they won’t count against your net worth when determining Medicaid coverage and any other government benefits. But that’s true only for irrevocable trusts. The money in a revocable trust is still legally yours. As a result, it counts against eligibility determinations.

As with all irrevocable trusts, you should know that once this money is in the trust, it’s no longer under your control. So be sure this is money with which you can comfortably part. Also, confirm these plans with your family if you set up a funeral trust with pre-arranged services. Be sure they’ll want what you’ve planned because this will be for their comfort.

Finally, you can lose all the money if you set up this trust with a funeral home that goes out of business or has financial issues. And these trusts aren’t always portable, which can also be a problem. Remember, there are both benefits and drawbacks to a funeral trust. Discuss these potential outcomes with your estate planning attorney to decide if a funeral trust is a good option for you. If you would like to learn more about irrevocable trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Yahoo Finance (April 29, 2023) “Pros and Cons of an Irrevocable Funeral Trust”

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Cancelling Irrevocable Trust can cause Tax nightmare

Cancelling Irrevocable Trust can cause Tax nightmare

Cancelling an irrevocable trust can cause a tax nightmare. For those in the high-income bracket, the potential tax consequences of canceling an irrevocable trust could be a major deterrent. And for those from middle-income backgrounds, the immediate financial impact, like the possible loss of income from the trust, the ramifications may be more, says Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled, “Will Terminating an Irrevocable Trust Affect My Taxes?”

For example, if the trust holds significantly appreciated assets like real estate or vintage cars, the beneficiaries could face a large tax bill upon dissolution and may benefit from an alternative strategy. So, instead of dissolving the trust, it might be worth looking at ways to alter it better to fit the beneficiaries’ current needs and circumstances. This may include decanting—moving assets from one trust to another with more favorable terms— or moving the trust to a state with more favorable laws.

Income Taxes. An irrevocable trust may hold assets that generate income, including bank accounts, bonds, and dividend-paying stocks whose profits are taxed as ordinary income. Note that distributions from a trust’s principal aren’t subject to income taxes – only the gains. But if an irrevocable non-grantor trust is terminated, the income the assets have generated will presumably be distributed to the beneficiaries. It will be their responsibility to pay the taxes on the money. However, if the trust that’s dissolved is a grantor trust, the income tax liability will stay with the person who created the trust.

Capital Gains Taxes. Assets that appreciate within an irrevocable trust are subject to capital gains taxes. When these profits are realized and distributed at the termination of a trust, the beneficiaries will be required to pay the tax rate that corresponds with their income level.

Estate Taxes. When assets are transferred to an irrevocable trust, they’re removed from the grantor’s taxable estate, lowering the person’s potential estate tax liability when they die. Only large estates worth more than $12.92 million are subject to the federal estate tax in 2023, so it’s not an issue for most people. But in March 2023, the IRS announced that the step-up in basis doesn’t apply to assets held in irrevocable grantor trusts. For those assets to receive the step-up, they must be included in the grantor’s gross estate and be subjected to the federal estate tax. As a result, the termination of an irrevocable grantor trust could trigger the estate tax if assets return to their taxable estate.

Cancelling an irrevocable trust can cause a tax nightmare that may take years to resolve. Discuss your situation with your estate planning attorney for viable alternatives that may be less risky. If you would like to learn more about irrevocable trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Yahoo Finance (Aug. 13, 2021) “Will Terminating an Irrevocable Trust Affect My Taxes?”

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Irrevocable Funeral Trust helps Families with expenses

Irrevocable Funeral Trust helps Families with expenses

Yahoo Finance’s recent article, “Pros and Cons of an Irrevocable Funeral Trust,” explains that an irrevocable funeral trust is a legal entity that helps families with end-of-life costs, such as funeral and burial expenses.

With this trust, you’re establishing a formal trust fund, a separate legal entity that owns the money you contributed to it. The purpose is to hold your money until you die. It then releases the funds to pay for your funeral, burial and other end-of-life expenses.

As with all trust funds, the trust has a trustee who manages its money. Here, the trustee is determined by an insurance company or funeral services company through which you set up the trust. It will usually hold as its single asset a life insurance policy that you’ve purchased.

The trust fund owns this life insurance policy and is named as the sole beneficiary. When you die, the fund collects the policy’s payment and uses this money to pay for your end-of-life costs.

A funeral trust may also name a specific funeral home as the trust’s beneficiary. For example, a given funeral home may agree to a fixed price for a funeral and burial.

When you die, the trust pays out its funds to the funeral home to cover the costs of your funeral, burial and any associated services.

As with most trusts, you can establish both revocable and irrevocable funeral trusts.

With a revocable funeral trust, you maintain ownership and control of the money and can withdraw it anytime.

However, with an irrevocable funeral trust, you no longer own the money, so you can’t withdraw it.

While an irrevocable funeral trust helps families pay for potentially expensive end-of-life expenses, it locks up your money for good and can’t be amended. If you would like to learn more about funeral planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Yahoo Finance (April 29, 2023) “Pros and Cons of an Irrevocable Funeral Trust”

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The IRS has issued a ruling that will impact grantor trusts

The IRS has issued a Ruling that will impact Grantor Trusts

The IRS has issued a ruling that will impact grantor trusts. Completed gifts to grantor trusts will not receive a Section 1014 step-up in basis upon the grantor’s death. According to the IRS, Revenue Ruling 2023-2 concludes this is the appropriate result because such property is not acquired from a decedent for purposes of Section 1014(a) of the IRC of 1986 as amended in Section 1014(b) of the Code, as reported by Reuters in the article “IRS confirms that completed gifts to grantor trusts are not eligible for Section 1014 step-up.”

Upon their death, assets received from a decedent are afforded a basis step-up under Code Section 1014. These are assets usually included in the taxable estate for estate tax purposes. However, before the Ruling, many practitioners wondered whether the assets of an irrevocable grantor trust would be eligible for the same benefit.

The irrevocable “grantor trust” is an anomaly under the Code. A “grantor trust” is not recognized as a separate taxpayer for income tax purposes during the lifetime of the creator (usually referred to as the “grantor” or the “settlor”). All income earned during the grantor’s lifetime is reported on the grantor’s individual income tax returns. However, if the grantor trust is irrevocable and if transfers to the trusts are deemed to be completed gifts, then when the grantor dies, the assets of the grantor trust are not included in the taxable estate of the grantor for estate tax purposes. Thus, the grantor trust is deemed to be owned by the grantor for income tax but not estate tax. This led to uncertainty over the eligibility of the grantor trust assets for the Code Section 1014 basis step-up on the grantor’s death.

“Intentionally defective” grantor trusts are widely used, where the grantor is treated as the owner of the grantor trust for income tax purposes and is responsible for paying the income taxes incurred by the trust. The payment by the grantor of the grantor trust’s income taxes effectively lets the grantor make additional tax-free gifts to the grantor trust and increases the grantor trust’s rate of return.

However, since the grantor trust is not a separate taxpayer for income tax purposes, there’s no recognition of gain on the sale or interest income on the note. The interest rate on the note can be the lowest rate which will not cause adverse tax consequences. If the interest sold to the grantor trust grows faster than the applicable interest rate, the excess growth passes, transfer-tax-free, to the grantor trust.

The “Sale Technique” has been used many times since the IRS released Revenue Ruling 83-15, supporting the position that a property sale from a grantor to a grantor trust is not a taxable event. If no gain is recognized on such a sale, the grantor trust takes a carryover basis in the grantor’s property.

With the release of Revenue Ruling 2023-2, how should estate planning attorneys advise their clients? There are a few strategies to consider:

Power to Exchange Assets. Many grantor trusts allow the grantor to substitute trust property for other assets of equivalent value. If a grantor trust has an asset with a low basis, during the grantor’s lifetime, they could exercise the Substitution Power to exchange the low-basis asset for property with a higher basis but of equal value. The low basis asset now becomes part of the grantor’s estate and, as long as the grantor retains it until their death, will be eligible for the Code Section 1014 basis step-up.

Second Sale to Trust. If the trust agreement establishing the grantor trust doesn’t grant Substitution Power, the grantor could purchase low-basis assets from the trust for high-basis assets. The grantor may engage in a series of sales to ensure appreciated stock continues to cycle back to the grantor, so the estate may take advantage of the Code Section 1014 basis step-up.

Granting a General Power of Appointment. In certain situations, it may be possible to grant a testamentary general power of appointment over a grantor trust to a parent or other elderly relative, the “Powerholder.” The grant of a general power of appointment results in the assets subject to such power being includable in the estate of the Powerholder for estate tax purposes. The trust assets in the Powerholder’s estate will then be eligible for the Code Section 1014 basis step-up upon the death of the Powerholder.

The grant of the general power of appointment should not exceed the Powerholder’s available estate tax exemption and only apply to assets with built-in gain. This strategy will require consideration of the Powerholder’s creditors and any possible risks to the grantor trust.

The IRS has issued a ruling that will impact grantor trusts. These are complex strategies requiring the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. If you would like to learn more about irrevocable grantor trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Reuters (June 21, 2023) “IRS confirms that completed gifts to grantor trusts are not eligible for Section 1014 step-up”

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What is the Purpose of a Blind Trust?

What is the Purpose of a Blind Trust?

One type of trust offers a layer of separation between the person who created the trust and how the investments held in the trust are managed. The trust’s beneficiaries are also unable to access information regarding the investments, says the article “What is a Blind Trust?” from U.S. News & World Report. What is the purpose of a blind trust?

The roles involved in a blind trust are the settlor—the person who creates the trust, the trustee—the person who manages the trust—and beneficiaries—those who receive the assets in a trust.

Blind trusts, typically created to avoid conflicts of interest, are where the settlor gives an independent trustee complete discretion over the assets in the trust to manage, invest and maintain them as the trustee determines.

This is quite different from most trusts, where the owner of the trust knows about investments and how they are managed. Beneficiaries often have insight into the holdings and the knowledge that they will eventually inherit the assets. In a blind trust, neither the beneficiaries nor the trust’s creator knows how funds are being used or what assets are held.

Blind trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. If the trust is revocable (also known as a living trust), the settlor can dissolve the trust at any time.

If the trust is irrevocable, it remains intact until the beneficiaries inherit the entire assets, although there are some exceptions.

In some instances, irrevocable trusts are used to move assets out of an estate. Settlors lose control over the holdings and may not terminate the trust or change the terms.

Blind trusts can be used in estate planning if the settlor wants to limit the beneficiaries’ knowledge of the trust assets and their ability to interfere with the management of the trust.’

People who win massive lump sums in a lottery might use a blind trust because some states allow lottery winners to preserve their anonymity using this type of trust. They draft and sign a trust deed and appoint a trustee, then fund the trust by donating the winning ticket to the trust prior to claiming the prize. By remaining anonymous, winners have some protection from unscrupulous people who prey on lottery winners.

One drawback to a blind trust is the lack of knowledge about how investments are being handled. The blind trust also poses the issue of less accountability by the trustee, since beneficiaries have no right to inspect whether or not assets are being managed properly.

Do you need a blind trust? Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what the purpose of a blind trust is, and whether or not your estate would benefit from it. If you want to separate yourself from investment decisions or would rather beneficiaries don’t know about the holdings, it might make sense. However, if you have no concerns about privacy or conflict of interests, other types of trusts may make more sense. If you would like to learn more about trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (June 1, 2023) “What is a Blind Trust?”

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Planning for Long-Term Care with Irrevocable Trusts

Planning for Long-Term Care with Irrevocable Trusts

One of the best strategies to plan for long-term care involves using an irrevocable trust. However, the word “irrevocable” makes people a little wary. It shouldn’t. Planning for long-term care with irrevocable trusts can provide peace of mind for your family. The use of the Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust, a type of irrevocable trust, provides both protection and flexibility, explains the article “Despite the name, irrevocable trusts provide flexibility” from The News-Enterprise.

Trusts are created by an estate planning attorney for each individual and their circumstances. Therefore, the provisions in one kind of trust may not be appropriate for another person, even when the situation appears to be the same on the surface. The flexibility provisions explored here are commonly used in Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, referred to as IDGTs.

Can the grantor change beneficiaries in an IDGT? The grantor, the person setting up the trust, can reserve a testamentary power of appointment, a special right allowing grantors to change after-death beneficiaries.

This power can also hold the trust assets in the grantors’ taxable estate, allowing for the stepped-up tax basis on appreciated property.

Depending on how the trust is created, the grantor may only have the right to change beneficiaries for a portion or all of the property. If the grantor wants to change beneficiaries, they must make that change in their will.

Can money or property from the trust be removed if needed later? IDGT trusts should always include both lifetime beneficiaries and after-death beneficiaries. After death, beneficiaries receive a share of assets upon the grantor’s death when the estate is distributed. Lifetime beneficiaries have the right to receive property during the grantor’s lifetime.

While grantors may retain the right to receive income from the trust, lifetime beneficiaries can receive the principal. This is particularly important if the trust includes a liquid account that needs to be gifted to the beneficiary to assist a parent.

The most important aspect? The lifetime beneficiary may receive the property and not the grantor. The beneficiary can then use the gifted property to help a parent.

An often-asked question of estate planning attorneys concerns what would happen if tax laws changed in the future. It’s a reasonable question.

If an irrevocable trust needs a technical change, the trust must go before a court to determine if the change can be made. However, most estate planning attorneys include a trust protector clause within the trust to maintain privacy and expediency.

A trust protector is a third party who is neither related nor subordinate to the grantor, serves as a fiduciary, and can sign off on necessary changes. Trust protectors serve as “fixers” and are used to ensure that the trust can operate as the grantors intended. They are not frequently used, but they offer flexibility for legislative changes.

Planning for long-term care with irrevocable trusts is an excellent way to protect assets with both protection and flexibility in mind. If you would like to learn more about long-term care planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: The News-Enterprise (March 18, 2023) “Despite the name, irrevocable trusts provide flexibility”

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Asset Protection Trusts can address Long Term Care

Asset Protection Trusts can address Long Term Care

Asset protection trusts can address long term care costs. As the number of people aged 65 plus continues to increase, more seniors realize they must address the cost of long-term health care, which can quickly devour assets intended for retirement or inheritances. Those who can prepare in advance do well to consider asset protection trusts, says the article “Asset protection is major concern of aging population” from The News Enterprise. 

Asset protection trusts are irrevocable trusts in which another person manages the trust property and the person who created the trust—the grantor—is not entitled to the principal within the trust. There are several different types of irrevocable trusts used to protect assets. Still, one of the more frequently used irrevocable trusts for the purpose of protecting the grantor’s assets is the Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust, called IDGT for short.

As a side note, Revocable Living Trusts are completely different from Irrevocable Trusts and do not provide asset protection to grantors. Grantors placing their property into Revocable Living Trusts maintain the full right to control the property and use it for their own benefit, meaning any assets in the trust are not protected during the grantor’s lifetime.

IDGTs are irrevocable, and grantors have no right to principal and may not serve as a trustee, further limiting the grantors’ access to the property in the trust. Grantors may, however, receive any income from trust-owned property, such as rental properties or investment accounts.

During the grantor’s lifetime, any trust income is taxed at the grantor’s tax bracket rather than at the much higher trust tax bracket. Upon the grantor’s death, beneficiaries receive appreciated property at a stepped-up tax basis, avoiding a hefty capital gains tax.

While the term “irrevocable” makes some people nervous, most IDGTs have built-in flexibility and protections for grantors. One provision commonly included is a Testamentary Power of Appointment, which allows the grantor to change beneficiary designations.

IDGTs also include clauses providing for the grantors’ exclusive right to reside in the primary residence. However, if the grantor needs to change residences, the trustee may buy and sell property within the trust as needed.

IDGTs provide for two different types of beneficiaries: lifetime and after-death beneficiaries. Lifetime beneficiaries are those who will receive shares of the total estate upon the death of the grantor. Lifetime beneficiary provisions are important because they allow the grantor to make gifts from the trust principal. Hence, there is always at least one person who can receive the trust principal if need be.

Asset protection trusts are complicated and require the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. However, when used properly, asset protection trusts can address unanticipated creditors, long-term care costs and even unintended tax liabilities. If you would like to learn more about asset protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: The News Enterprise (March 4, 2023) “Asset protection is major concern of aging population”

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Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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