When should you terminate an ILIT? The purpose of an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is to own and control term or permanent life insurance policies, so the policy proceeds aren’t part of the insured’s taxable estate upon death. Nj.com’s recent article entitled “Should I terminate this trust and do I need a will?” looks at the situation where a person created a revocable (RLT) and an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) to take care of his family after his death.
However, now everyone in the family is financially independent and the value of his estate is far below the 2021 taxable threshold of $11.7 million.
Should he terminate the ILIT and RLT and simply designate his children as beneficiaries of his investment accounts and life insurance?
In this situation, the ILIT was funded with a term policy that’s set to expire soon. As a result, it may be easier to let the policy owned by the ILIT expire.
If that happens, the ILIT would be immaterial. Note that the terms of the trust will dictate the procedure for the termination of the ILIT. This can be simple or difficult. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to examine the trust’s language. A revocable living trust lets the individual creating the trust control the assets in the trust and avoid probate.
This type of trust can also be used to manage the trust assets by a successor trustee, if the grantor who created the trust becomes incapacitated.
An experienced estate planning attorney will know the state laws that regulate trusts, so consult with him or her. For example, banks in New Jersey may freeze 50% of the assets in an estate upon the owner’s death to make certain that any estate or inheritance taxes due are paid. In the Garden State, a tax waiver must be obtained to lift the freeze. However, the assets in a trust aren’t subject to a similar freeze.
At the grantor’s death, a trustee must pay income tax, if the gross income of the trust reaches the threshold. However, the trust may not accumulate gross income of $600, if the assets are distributed outright to the beneficiaries soon after the death of the grantor. Work with an estate planning attorney to ensure you have your finances in order if you terminate an ILIT.
If you would like to learn more about ILITs and other life insurance options, please visit our previous posts.
Reference: nj.com (June 15, 2021) “Should I terminate this trust and do I need a will?”