How Can You Reduce or Avoid High Trust Taxes?

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By Sandra K. Dennison, CPA

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes a strategy to avoid taxes when you put money into a trust and when you take it out. Here’s a summary of how it works:

Distributes net income to lower tax bracket beneficiary

In cases where Mom & Dad’s trust has a higher tax bracket than their beneficiary’s, there is an opportunity to save tax dollars. Trusts have fewer tax brackets and higher tax rates than individuals who have more tax brackets and lower tax rates. Consider that a trust with as little as $12,150 in assets pays the maximum tax rate – 43.4% while individuals can earn over $400,000 before they pay 43.4%. It seems clear that paying at the individual tax rate is better than paying the trust rate, in most cases.

You also have the option to look at which tax strategy (trust or individual) makes the most sense – if you get it done in the first 65 days of the year. This extended “decision time” is only available to trusts and beneficiaries.

Although appealing, distributions should not be made just for the sake of tax saving and certainly not without expert counsel. Distributing funds from a trust could produce negative consequences that far outweigh the tax savings. Respect for the purpose of the trust is more important.

Read more at: “How a Trust Can Cut Taxes” written by Arden Dale for the Wall Street Journal.

How a Trust Affects Your Ohio Homestead Exemption

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By Tricia Applegate

Do I still qualify for the Homestead Exemption if my home is in a Trust? The short answer is yes, with a few provisions. The State of Ohio states:
You are eligible for the homestead exemption if all of the following are true:

  • You created the trust to be effective during your lifetime (an inter vivos trust)
  • You provided the assets for the trust (you are the settlor).
  • The trust agreement contains a provision that says you have complete possession of the property.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts may qualify. Most of the other common forms of property ownership (such as survivorship deeds) also qualify for the exemption. Properties owned by corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and trusts, other than the trust described above, are not eligible for the homestead exemption because such properties are not owned by an individual.

If you have questions regarding your trust and the homestead exemption, please contact your estate or elder law attorney.

 

I Don’t Want My Daughter’s Ex-Husband to Get Any of My Estate!

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By Attorney Ted Brown

One of the many benefits of a Living Trust is that it allows you a great deal of flexibility to customize distribution of your assets at your death to avoid undesirable and unintended consequences. One such consequence is an ex-daughter-in-law (or ex-son-in-law) ending up with your assets instead of your grandchildren or remaining family members.

A Living Trust can be specifically drafted to state that, should your daughter pre-decease you, her share will not go to her ex-husband. In addition, the Trust can be used to ensure that her share will be used for the benefit of her children. If those children are minors, the Trust can be drafted to ensure that the funds are managed for their benefit by someone you designate.

Call us today at 1-800-798-5297 to set up a free consultation to learn more about how a Living Trust can help you plan for the unexpected and make sure your assets end up in the hands of your loved ones.

The Accidental Beneficiary

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By Attorney Daniel Vu

Changing who will inherit your estate can be a lot trickier than you think. You might think that all that you need to do is change your Will. However, changing only your Will would be a costly mistake. The beneficiaries you intend to inherit your estate will lose out on any asset not governed by your Will. Any asset that has named beneficiaries avoids probate and is not governed by a Will. For example, your IRA avoids probate because you most likely have designated beneficiaries on each individual IRA policy. This is also the case with your life insurance policies and many other types of financial accounts. So if most of your assets will avoid probate, changing just your Will would effectively change very little of your estate distribution and it may cause you to accidentally leave something to someone you had no longer wanted to receive as much or anything at all.

If you want to make sure you are not creating an “accidental beneficiary”, you will want to coordinate the changes on your Will and each and every asset that has named beneficiaries. In many cases a Trust can make this easier. For example, if all of your assets are owned (“funded”) into a Trust or made payable to a Trust, then you can make a change with one simple amendment to the Trust. The beneficiaries on all assets owned by the Trust would automatically change. But beware, even if you have a Trust it does not mean that everything will be controlled by the Trust. For various legal or tax reason there may be a select few things that must be left out of the control of the Trust so you will still need to do your due diligence to make sure that all of your distributions by Will, Trust or otherwise are updated to reflect your latest wishes.

Of course it is not uncommon to see people will change their wishes on their Will or Trust but forget about changing their IRA or something else not in the Trust or probated by the Will. This is fine if that difference was intended! Otherwise it’s a costly mistake for your intended beneficiaries and a very lucky thing to happen to your now accidental beneficiaries!