A testamentary trust is any trust formed based upon terms contained in the settlor’s last will and testament. A testamentary trust is neither formed nor funded until death and does not exist for legal and tax purposes prior to that time.
An estate planning attorney determines the types of trusts to be used based upon the particular needs and goals of the family. Often an attorney may have several trust options capable of achieving their client’s goals. An attorney sometimes recognizes that a trust may only be needed if certain circumstances occur. As such, rather than form the trust immediately, the person forming the trust can include the terms of the trust in the last will and testament and delay the funding of the trust until the time of their death.
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If you have assets you anticipate will increase in value, you can “freeze” the value of those assets for estate tax purposes with an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust, an “IDGT”. Most wonder why they would want an “intentionally defective” anything, but it references the fact your estate attorney will purposefully insert language making the transfer of assets to the trust an incomplete gift for income tax purposes but a complete gift for estate tax purposes. Therefore, immediately following the transfer to the IDGT, the IRS considers the trust’s assets to be owned by your heirs for estate tax purposes but still considered owned by you for income tax purposes. These differing classifications can be very beneficial for those with estate tax concerns, rather than a need for a step-up in basis at death.
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It’s common to hear attorneys and others refer to trusts, but you may not know exactly what they are or why they are needed. A trust is similar to an entity, such as a corporation or an LLC, in that a trust has a separate identity from either the person that formed it or the people it is intended to benefit. The trust may own property in its own name and may even have a separate tax ID for its dealings with the IRS.
Continue reading “What is a Trust? The Basics of Forming a Maryland Trust”
Probate is the process by which a deceased person’s financial affairs are concluded and their assets are transferred to their legatees (if through a will) or heirs (if without a will). Because many people pass away with minimal probate assets, the State of Maryland provides a less burdensome process by which assets can be transferred for such estates.
When the value of a decedent’s property subject to Maryland probate is less than $50,000 (or less than $100,000 when a surviving spouse will be the sole legatee or heir), the estate under is allowed to be considered a “small estate” and use a simplified set of probate rules.
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An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT, should be of interest to any person buying life insurance. The ILIT is not just for people with estate tax issues. The ILIT can allow you to control how and when insurance proceeds are distributed to beneficiaries. Rather than going straight to the beneficiary, the insurance company pays the proceeds into a trust that then pays the amounts to the beneficiary as quickly or as slowly as you decide. Such a trust can be particularly beneficial when the potential beneficiary is younger, may have potential marital issues, or has difficultly managing money. Continue reading “Forming An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT)”
Many wonder what happens if you die without a Will. Each state, including Maryland, has its own laws that determine what happens to the person’s estate. The differences between each state’s laws do cause confusion, and your assumptions about Maryland’s laws may be incorrect and can cause incredibly negative problems.
When someone dies without a Will, the rules governing the estate are called “intestate laws”. When intestate laws apply, the deceased person may be referred to as having “died intestate” and having left an “intestate estate”. Your state’s intestate laws serve essentially as your Will if your family cannot provide an actual Will. Maryland’s intestate laws are often not what most people expect. Continue reading “Not Having a Will in Maryland”
Small businesses comprise a significant portion of our economy. Unfortunately, most small businesses do not survive into the next generation of owners. The hard work and legacy of the current and prior generations can be wasted without proper planning.
Small business owners often feel they have sufficient time to begin making the transition and will delay the necessary steps until some fateful event forces them into acting. This leaves little or no time to prepare the business and the family for the burdens, both financial and managerial, that can be caused by a sudden and unplanned transfer. Continue reading “Family Business Succession Planning”
Persons holding equity interests in a business can use a buy-sell agreement to ensure the continuity of the business and to solidify their expectations regarding the taxes, rights, and obligations of each party. The buy-sell agreement can dictate the method by which a person’s equity interest will be purchased. Buy-sell agreements can be used by nearly any type of entity, regardless of whether the entity is a corporation, LLC, or partnership.
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Many people desire to give gifts and bequests to friends or relatives with special needs. But you must consider whether the gift or bequest will cause the beneficiary to lose their government benefits. Ensuring the beneficiary will continue to receive their government benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), may require you to give the gift or bequest through a special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust.
When providing such a gift or bequest you intend to improve the comfort of the person with special needs, not relieve the government of its burden. However, certain government benefit programs require the person be financially needy. If the person with special needs has assets in excess of $2,000, then the beneficiary will not qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). So, if you gave your child with autism $50,000, then their SSI, Medicaid, and other government benefits could stop and they would need to live on your $50,000 gift until their assets are back to being under $2,000. At the end of the day, the only one benefiting from such a gift would be the government. Because of this and similar issues, attorneys developed planning techniques by which the person with disabilities will receive the benefit of your contribution without losing their medical and other benefits.
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