In developing and delivering a personal and comprehensive estate plan, it is often necessary to incorporate more advanced estate planning concepts and techniques into the overall plan for our clients. In addition to our Basic Estate Planning, Four Pillars Law Firm also provides the following non-inclusive list of more advanced estate planning documents to address various client concerns and needs while continuing to meet clients’ estate planning goals:
- Revocable Living Trust – A planning document which becomes effective upon being signed and “funded” by re-titling your assets into the name of your trust. The trustee of the trust, normally you (and your spouse, if applicable), handle and make decisions regarding trust assets and how to spend/invest them. If a trustee becomes disabled or passes away, the trust is already the owner of the property, so the successor trustee (named in the trust document) steps up to handle the trust assets. Upon the passing of the trust creator (you and/or your spouse), the trust is generally administered by the trustee free of probate and court supervision and property is transferred according to the terms of the trust.
- IRA Inheritance (“Retirement”) Trust – A planning document which becomes effective upon being signed and is labeled as the designated beneficiary on your various retirement accounts. Use of such a document allows the retirement account owner to ensure that the beneficiaries he would otherwise designate on his retirement accounts (generally spouse as primary and children as secondary contingent beneficiaries) inherit his remaining retirement assets in a creditor-protected manner and require full stretch-out of the payments over the lifetime of his individual beneficiaries (so as to ensure the greatest monetary benefit).
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (“ILIT”) – A planning document which, if properly drafted and administered, may be used to minimize or avoid estate taxes. Although life insurance proceeds are not subject to income tax, they are subject to estate tax and the proceeds are generally included in your taxable estate upon your death. If you have a taxable estate, your loved ones may lose about half of the inheritable value of the assets, due to estate taxes, prior to receiving a dime of the life insurance proceeds. By creating this trust to specifically hold and own your life insurance, and using your annual gift tax exclusion to make cash gifts to the trust in order to pay the life insurance premiums, you may be able to avoid estate or gift tax consequences relating to this trust and/or the life insurance held within it.
- Qualified Personal Residence Trust (“QPRT”) – A planning document which allows you to transfer your house, generally your most valuable asset, at a substantial tax discount, into a special trust and freeze the value of your home for your own estate tax purposes, while also creating asset/creditor protection for your home. Moreover, subject to certain trust administration issues, all of which may be properly addressed and handled, you may continue to live in your house for the rest of your life.
- Asset Protection Trust – A planning document which allows you to organize your assets and affairs in advance so as to protect them from and avoid claims of creditors. As claims of “known” creditors may not be avoided, the time for conducting asset protection planning is now. Asset protection does not involve hiding assets, last-minute creditor protection or tax avoidance; it requires prior planning and should be considered during your ongoing estate planning needs, particularly when/if your situation changes (e.g. you are a high-profile professional in a somewhat risky career or you believe you may have a taxable estate and would like to minimize or avoid the same).
- Special Needs Trust – A planning document which enables you to leave assets to a disabled loved one who is receiving essential Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits while enabling your loved one to retain SSI eligibility. By doing so, the assets left in trust for your disabled love one may be used to cover whatever supplemental, yet qualify-of-life-enhancing, needs your loved one may have which are not necessarily covered otherwise by their SSI eligibility and payments.
- Dynasty Trust – A trust technique incorporated into many of the above documents whereby you may leave your assets to your beneficiaries upon your death in an asset/creditor-protected trust (whether the creditor is an existing creditor or later becomes an ex-spouse) that also provides for estate tax avoidance when your beneficiary passes away and has not spent all the money inherited from you.
Four Pillars Law Firm offers sophisticated and comprehensive advanced estate planning services for individuals, families, and their loved ones; let us collaborate with you and your other trusted professional advisors (e.g. attorneys, certified public accountants and/or financial planners) and deliver an estate plan that is appropriate for your concerns and goals. As with basic estate planning, effective advanced estate planning ensures that everything you have worked so hard to accumulate during your life will be there to work for you during your life and pass effectively to your loved ones when you pass. Ultimately, advanced estate planning, especially for individuals who are concerned about their loved ones’ abilities to properly handle their inheritances (whether for spendthrift or disability reasons) as well as for those individuals with more sophisticated estates, is all about establishing peace of mind, both for yourself as well as your loved ones.
Now that you have discovered how we may be able to help you with your own estate planning needs, please Contact Us with your particular inquiry and see if you qualify for a free initial consultation so that we may discuss your individual concerns and develop an estate plan that meets your needs.
If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, please visit our Estate Administration page to read about the administration of your estate planning documents upon your passing, or visit another one of our practice areas by making the appropriate selection at the top of the page.