What is a dynasty trust? Don’t be put off by the term “dynasty.” Just as every person has an estate, even if they don’t live in a million-dollar home, every person who owns assets could potentially have a dynasty trust, even if they don’t rule a continent. If you have assets that you wish to pass to others, you need an estate plan and you may also benefit from a dynasty trust, says this recent article from Kiplinger, “A Smart Option for Transferring Wealth Through Generations: The Dynasty Trust.”
When parents die, assets are typically transferred to their descendants. In most cases, the assets are transferred directly to the heirs, unless a trust has been created. Estate taxes must be paid, usually from the assets in the estate. Inheritances are divided according to the will, after the taxes have been paid, and go directly to the beneficiary, who does what they want with the assets.
If you leave assets outright to heirs, when the beneficiary dies, the assets are subject to estate taxes again. If assets are left to grandchildren, they are likely to incur another type of taxes, called Generation Skipping Transfer Taxes (GSTT). If you want your children to have an inheritance, you’ll need to do estate planning to minimize estate tax liability.
If you own a Family Limited Partnership (FLP) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC), own real estate or have a large equity portfolio, you may have the ability to use gifting and wealth transfer plans to provide for your family in the future. You may be able to do this without losing control of the assets.
The “dynasty trust,” named because it was once used by families like the DuPont’s and Fords, is created to transfer wealth from generation to generation without being subject to various gift, estate and/or GSTT taxes for as long as the assets remain in the trust, depending upon appliable state laws. A dynasty trust can also be used to protect assets from creditors, divorcing spouses and others seeking to make a claim against the assets.
Many people use an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) and transfer the assets free of the trust upon death. Most living trusts are transferred without benefit of being held within trusts.
A dynasty trust is usually created by the parents and can include any kind of asset—life insurance, securities, limited partnership interests, etc.—other than qualified retirement plans. The assets are held within the trust and when the grantor dies, the trust automatically subdivides into as many new trusts as the number of beneficiaries named in the trust. It’s also known as a “bloodline” trust.
Let’s say you have three children. The dynasty trust divides into three new trusts, dividing assets among the three. When those children die, the trust subdivides again for their children (grandchildren) in their own respective trusts and again, assets are divided into equal shares.
A dynasty trust offers broad powers for health, welfare, maintenance and support. The children can use the money as they wish, investing or taking it out. When created properly, the assets and growth are both protected from estate taxes. Speak with an estate planning attorney to make sure you fully understand what a dynasty trust is, and if it is right for you. You’ll need a trustee and a co-trustee and an experienced estate planning attorney to draft and execute this plan.
If you would like to learn more about a dynasty trust, and other types of multi-generational planning vehicles, please visit our previous posts.
Reference: Kiplinger (Oct. 2, 2021) “A Smart Option for Transferring Wealth Through Generations: The Dynasty Trust”