The popularity of trusts in estate planning has increased steadily over the last few decades. They are often excellent vehicles that can help people protect their assets and avoid excessive tax penalties related to such assets. One of the more traditional types of trust is known as a Crummey Trust. A Crummey Trust is a trust structured in a way that allows parents to make annual deposits to it within the currently established annual limit while allowing for beneficiaries to maintain a present interest in gifts. This trust has some features that might make it applicable to your estate planning needs.

Features of a Crummey Trust

A Crummey Trust allows individuals to use the annual gift tax exclusion while funding a substantial trust that a recipient cannot access until a certain age. As such, it requires the recipient to have what is known as a present interest in the trust. This means that the recipient has immediate access to funds deposited into the trust. In order for Crummey powers in a trust to adhere to this present interest, funds deposited to the trust are available for immediate withdrawal/use by the recipient for a reasonable period of time, such as 30 days after the gift has been made. Once 30 days has passed, the money automatically gets deposited into the trust where it will be protected until the age at which the recipient has been designated as having access to it.

Comprehensive estate planning is an important part of aging, especially if you have already started a family. Estate planning for young families can be an unpleasant topic, but it is extremely important. Making sure that your heirs are provided for not only provides you with peace of mind, but also ensures that their needs can be met if you are not able to meet them yourself. When you begin to think about estate planning options, the following tips from a recent article in the Chicago Tribune can help you direct your energy and resources toward making the right decision based on your circumstances.

Make an Inventory of Your Assets

The first step in comprehensive estate planning is to figure out exactly what you are working with. You can do this by making a list of all of your assets so that you can see exactly what you have to leave to your heirs. Make sure to include everything: cars, checking accounts, retirement plans, digital property, trademarks you may own, jewelry, clothing, and any other assets you may have. This will give you an idea of how complicated the estate planning process might be for you and can help you determine which estate planning strategies might work best for you. You will also need to start thinking about who you would like these various assets to go to as that may have a significant impact on the types of estate planning strategies you ultimately engage in.

Comprehensive estate planning can be a confusing process. It can be even more confusing with larger estates or with multiple children. Parents want to ensure that their estate plan provides for their children’s financial security, but in circumstances where children may be in different financial situations or a variety of characteristics may impact how parents elect to distribute their assets estate planning is an important part of avoiding a fight over the estate plan down the line. The following tips, adapted from a recent article from Forbes about circumstances that often combine to lead to fights over estate plans, can help you prepare your estate plan in a way that avoids fighting over it among your heirs. In preparing your estate plan cautiously and planning to avoid potential fights between heirs, you can ensure that more of your assets are preserved for your heirs and that their relationships do not have to face the test of a legal challenge to your estate plan.

Include a No Contest Clause

One of the most direct ways of avoiding potential fights over your ultimate decision in how you wish to distribute your assets to your heirs is no work with your estate planning attorney to include a “no contest” provision in your Last Will and Testament. Doing so allows you to notify heirs that anyone that chooses to contest the Will stands to inherit nothing should they try to contest the validity of the Will through legal channels and lose. The mere existence of this type of clause can discourage individuals from fighting over the provisions of your estate plan.

Selecting the right trustee to administer your estate is a crucial part of ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your estate is settled correctly. While many people can and should put a great deal of thought into selecting a trustee to administer their estate, the process of selecting a trustee often stops there. Whether a trustee is a financial institution, attorney, or close family friend, you need to include a mechanism to remove that trustee if the need to do so arises. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you design this type of mechanism, which could help your loved ones avoid the often-lengthy legal process of removing a trustee in the absence of formal instructions.

When can a trustee be removed?

There are many reasons you may wish to revise your estate’s trustee. Perhaps you originally selected a family member that has become estranged because of divorce. You may have selected a sibling that has predeceased you. If you nominated a financial institution, it could have been bought out by another company that you don’t want to deal with. Whatever the reason for wanting to remove a trustee, New York law states that the following constitute some legal reasons for a court to remove a trustee:

When people think of estate planning, they do not automatically think of utilizing retirement planning strategies to maximize their estate’s potential. However, there are many benefits available during retirement that can have a significant impact on how you plan your estate. One such vehicle that can allow for more comprehensive estate planning is a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs are a type of retirement savings account similar to a traditional IRA but with some very important differences that could be beneficial to you. CNN Money provides an explanation of the differences between the two types of accounts, and some of the benefits of Roth IRAs that could be applicable to your estate are discussed below.

Benefits of a Roth IRA

The main benefit of a Roth IRA is that it is funded with after-tax dollars. In other words, the money you put into it has already been taxed. That means that money invested into the account can grow tax free and you do not have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw from it at retirement. There are, however, potential tax penalties associated with unqualified early distributions that an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand.

Comprehensive estate planning can be an extremely complicated process for an individual. This is even more true when the individual owns a business. The owners of closely held businesses own businesses with a limited number of shareholders and the stock in such businesses is not regularly traded publicly. While this type of business can provide many benefits for business owners, it can also create issues when one of the business owner dies. However, structuring a buy-sell agreement for a closely held business can help make estate planning easier when it comes to your interest in such a business.

Redemption Agreements

With a redemption agreement, the company itself purchases a life insurance policy on the various owners of the company. When one of those owners die, the sole owner of the life insurance policy – in this case, the company – will receive the benefits of the life insurance policy and can buy back the deceased shareholder’s shares. There are some potentially negative tax consequences for this type of arrangement, including the possibility of the business to be subject to the current corporate alternative minimum tax on the proceeds from the life insurance policy.

Comprehensive estate planning is a deeply personal process. There are so many different factors to consider, and working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help streamline the process and ensure that you explore all of the aspects of estate planning that pertain to you. One of the most difficult parts of comprehensive estate planning is selecting a guardian for your minor children if both parents should become deceased or incapacitated at the same time, leaving neither able to care for any shared children. As difficult as the process can be, it is extremely important to undertake it so that the best interests of your children are provided for in a worst-case scenario. The following are some tips in approaching the guardian selection process and provide some important considerations for you to remember when selecting a guardian, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you with the process.

  1.     Choose Compatible People

Most people put a great deal of planning and thought into how they choose to parent. It is important for your peace of mind as well as your children’s well-being that you select individuals that share a similar parenting style and outlook. If academics are important in your household, make sure that they are also important to prospective guardians. Additionally, making sure that individuals you are considering as guardians are ready to undertake the responsibility that comes with it is extremely important.

As we remind our clients, tax concerns are a major part of a comprehensive estate planning strategy. Anticipating the potential tax consequences related to your estate as well as those that might arise prior to, during, or after the disposition of your assets is an integral part of making sure your loved ones don’t inherit a significant tax burden that limits the amount of assets you pass to them. For some individuals, private annuities may offer a way to avoid the high costs of estate taxes, gift taxes, and other taxes related to estate planning.

The Benefits of Private Annuities

Basically, private annuities can be used to help reduce your potential estate tax liability while avoiding the gift tax and securing a steady stream of income for the grantor. They are termed “private” because they are privately structured rather than created by some commercial entity. A private annuity allows the individual to essentially transfer that asset to the heir in exchange for lifetime payments for the property. As the person receiving the property will be paying the grantor for it, private annuities typically count as a sale instead of as a gift of property.

Estate planning is heavily dependent upon the law both at the time of planning and at a person’s time of death. The law is constantly changing, especially laws that impact estate planning. That is why it is crucial to make sure that you work with an experienced estate planning attorney that can help you stay abreast of changes in the law that could affect your estate plan. Recently, such a change occurred regarding the estate tax and lien releases.

What is an estate tax lien?

Internal Revenue Code 6324 says that a federal estate tax lien is put in place on the day a person passes away. This allows taxable assets to be determined, at which point property may become subject to an assessment lien until such time as any taxes due are paid in full. What this means is that the executor of a person’s estate, or the people responsible for the disposition of the deceased person’s property, cannot dispose of real property until it is discharged from either the estate tax lien or the assessment tax lien. If you try to dispose of any real property prior to it being discharged, the buyer of the property will be unable to take the property free and clear of any liens that may be placed on it. This could cause unexpected delays and other issues related to the disposition of property within an estate. By placing such liens, the Internal Revenue Service is able to ensure that any taxes due to it by the deceased or as part of the deceased’s estate are actually paid.

Many individuals want to make sure that part of their estate is dedicated to their favorite charitable causes, and many make the move to guarantee this during their lifetime. There are several ways to do this. Some individuals may consider structuring an endowment while other may choose deferred gifts or planned giving. Another vehicle to ensure your charitable wishes are carried out can include the creation of a private foundation. However, for some people, the best option for charitable donations during one’s lifetime and after might be to create a donor advised fund.

The Basics of a Donor Advised Fund

When we give to various charities, their tax status allows us to take advantage of a tax deduction. However, in order for our donations to qualify as tax deductible, the organization must typically be registered as what is known as a 501(c)(3) organization. These types of organizations must comply with certain rules established by the IRS, including restricted political and legislative activity while following other important guidelines. The IRS defines a donor advised fund as a fund or account that is maintained and operated by a 501(c)(3) organization known as the sponsoring organization.

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