TOP TEN TRUST TRICKS Part I THE BASIC TAX TRUSTS by JERRY FRANK JONES Austin, Tx Copyright 1995 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Trusts are the greatest invention since sliced bread. Trust are more flexible than a politician. Trusts accomplish a variety of estate planning purposes. A trust is simply one person's promise to hold property for the benefit of another. A trust can go into effect during your life (an intervivos trust) or at your death through your will (a testamentary trust). An intervivos trust can be revocable (you can change your mind and shut it down or change its terms) or it may be irrevocable (make sure you have it right because you can't change it). The basic estate tax building blocks are: 1. By-Pass Trust (also known as "Credit Equivalent Trust" or "Credit Shelter Trust". The Federal Estate Tax allows a person to pass during his life and upon his death, a total of $600,000 to any person or persons without taxation. If a husband and wife have a community estate of $1, 200,000, they can pass all of that to their children without taxation by using a By-Pass Trust. On the death of the first spouse, rather than leaving $600,000 to his spouse, he leaves it to a By-Pass Trust. The By-Pass Trustee can be the surviving spouse. The beneficiaries during the life of the surviving spouse can be the surviving spouse or the surviving spouse and the children. The surviving spouse can have a special power of appointment. Then, on the death of the surviving spouse the property goes to the children without taxation. It is not a part of the surviving spouse's gross estate (it by passes her estate for purposes of taxation). Thus, each spouse has transferred $600,000 to their children without taxation. 2. Marital Deduction Trust. Like the By-Pass Trust, these can be created in your will or in an intervivos trust ("Living Trust" or "Loving Trust"). The estate tax law allows you to give as much property to your spouse as you want without any taxation (the unlimited marital deduction). Any property qualifying for the marital deduction, to the extent it is around, must be included in the gross estate of the 2nd spouse: Uncle Sam wants at least one opportunity to collect his tax. This can be done by an outright gift, but it can also be done by trust. The two most common marital deduction trusts are the "QTIP" trust (Qualified Terminal Interest Property) and "QDOT" trust (Qualified Domestic Trust ). A QTIP Trust typically arises there are children by a prior marriage. The QTIP must give the surviving spouse all of the income for life and may allow principal invasion. On her death, it passes to the children. The QDOT Trust is required if your spouse is a foreign national. IRS wants to make certain that they are able to collect their tax on the trust after the surviving spouse has died. In the past, they have had problems with surviving spouses moving back to their original country and never being able to find the property for subsequent taxation. Thus, to get the marital deduction for a foreign national surviving spouse, the property must be in a trust that insure its ultimate taxability. Primarily, it requires a responsible trustee that is a U.S. corporation or citizen. The Marital Deduction Trust and the By-Pass Trust are the basic building blocks of any estate plan for a couple with a taxable estate ($600,000 or more). 3. Generation Skipping Trust. Like the By-Pass Trust, this allows avoidance of taxation of your assets again when your children die. The typical Generation Skipping Trust also includes the by pass provisions discussed in 1. above. The Generation Skipping Trust says, I put "X" dollars in trust for my wife during her life. On her death, the trust shall continue for the benefit of my child. During my child's life, my child can be the trustee, can receive the income, can receive principal under an ascertainable standard and can have a special power of appointment. Then on my child's death, the property passes to my grandchildren. This trust is not a part of the child's gross estate and is not taxable on the child's death. This property while subject to tax on the original death, has not been subject to tax on the spouse's death or the child's death. It is not subject to tax again until the grandchildren die. This is sometimes referred to as a "Dynasty Trust." Part II THE GIFTING TRUSTS by JERRY FRANK JONES Austin, Tx Copyright 1995 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Set out below are three trusts most commonly established during a person's life ("inter vivos" trusts). Each of these will reduce the ultimate estate tax. 1. Qualified Minor's Trusts (aka 2503c Trust). Federal gift tax law allows a gift of $10,000 per donor per donee per year of present interest gifts. For example, a husband and wife can give $20,000 to each of their children during 1995; then they can give another $20,000 to each child in 1996. The "present interest" requirement means that the recipient must be able to use the property immediately. You must hand the $10,000 to Sonny immediately. You cannot give the $10,000 to Uncle Joe to hold and turn over to Sonny next year or when he turns 30. However, an exception is made for minors. The law recognizes that we cannot and do not want to give $10,000 to a child. Thus, the exclusion can be obtained by putting the $10,000 into a Qualifying Minor's Trust (sometimes called a 2503c trust). To qualify the trust: a) must have only 1 beneficiary; b) must terminate when the beneficiary reaches age 21 and c) if the child dies before age 21, the trust must pass to the beneficiary's estate or he must have a general power of appointment. The advantages of this transfer are great: The income may be taxable at the child's lower rate, no charge is made against the parent's $600,000 exemption equivalent, and the transferred asset will not be taxed on the parent's death. 2. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts. Because life insurance often is of little use to the owner during his life, it is a great planning asset. If you have life insurance that you do not presently need (it is not security for a loan or you do not expect to borrow from the cash surrender value) and you have a taxable estate, it should be transferred to a life insurance trust. If you transfer the policy to a properly crafted trust, it will not be a part of your gross estate on your death. Further, you can typically transfer it to the trust for a fraction of its death benefit value. The transfer value is the amount an insurance company would charge for the policy on the date of the gift (the "interpolated terminal reserve"). Generally, this translates into the cash surrender value plus the unearned premium. For example, a typical $100,000 life insurance policy might have a cash surrender value of only $5,000 and an annual premium of $1,000.. While slightly oversimplified, transferring that life insurance policy to a trust immediately after the annual premium would represent a gift of only $6,000. However, on death, you have avoided taxation on $100,000. To maintain the policy the insured can transfer money to the trust. However, extreme caution should be exercised. IRS hates how effective these trusts are and has a long history of challenging how they are administered. Basically gifts should be made at a time other than the due date of the premium and for amounts other than the premium amount. Under no circumstances should the insured pay the premium directly; nor should the trustee endorse the check over to the insurance company. The transfer of the original policy and the subsequent gifts of money to the trust are not present interests. The beneficiaries don't get anything until the insured dies. But, the present interest exclusion can be obtained if "Crummy" provisions are included. The "Crummy" provisions (named after the IRS court case involving Dr. Crummy's trusts) allow the beneficiaries to withdraw the gifts if they want to. Allowing immediate withdrawal turns the gifts into "present interests." The beneficiaries rarely exercise this right. They know if they do, there will be no more gifts. 3. Charitable Remainder Trusts. This is an increasingly popular device. It allows a person to make charitable gifts, to enjoy an income tax deduction currently and to insure income to themselves. In its simplest form, a person transfers $500,000 of property to a Charitable Remainder Trust. The terms of the trust indicate how much the grantor wants to receive each month (or each year) for the rest of his life. Then, taking into consideration the age of the grantor and the current interest rate, the value of the remainder interest is calculated. The amount of the remainder interest is currently deductible on the income tax return. For older people without children, this is sometimes the very best planning technique available. Its first cousin is the charitable annuity. There a gift is made to a charity in exchange for the charities' promise to pay a certain amount per month for the life of the beneficiary. With both of these devices, for older people it is possible that they can receive more income per month than retaining the property in a CD. TOP TEN TRUST TRICKS PART 3 THE NON TAX TRUSTS by JERRY FRANK JONES Austin, Tx Copyright 1995 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED There are reasons for creating a trust that have nothing to do with taxation. The trusts set out below illustrate how important trusts can be for even a person of modest means. 1. Ancillary Trust. If you have real estate in another state, an Ancillary Trust can save you the cost of a second probate. If you live in Texas and all of your property is in Texas, your will can be probated in Texas. However, if you also own a condominium in Colorado, you need some means of transferring title. Usually that is the probate process. You can avoid the second probate by placing the Colorado condominium in a Texas trust (the ancillary trust). This is a trust created under Texas law; then the Colorado property is deeded to the trust. Then, at your death, the title to the real estate is in the trust and not in your name. As a result, no probate is needed in Colorado: The owner (the trust) did not die. And, in fact, all the new trustee has to do to transfer or otherwise deal with the property is prove his successorship and sign the necessary documents. 2. Standby Trust. It is a fact of modern life that over 50% of us will go through a period at the end of our lives where we cannot care for our own affairs. It is an important part of estate planning to anticipate this vulnerable period by making prior arrangements for the care of our assets. The simplest of alternatives is to create a durable power of attorney where you appoint someone to have control over your assets. A more sophisticated technique is to create a power of attorney that (among other things) gives the authority to transfer assets to a trust. And then to create a trust that has only a nominal asset transferred to it at the present time. The understanding is that if and when you become disabled, that the power of attorney holder will transfer all of the assets to the trust for management. Because third parties are more comfortable with trusts, standby trusts are generally more effective than powers of attorney. Banks and other institutions will more readily deal with a trust and trustee than persons holding powers of attorney. Further, with trusts you can in more detail spell out the relationships and duties between the trustees and the beneficiary/grantor. 3. Management Trust. Sometimes a person merely wants someone else to manage their assets for them. Quite often this is why a trust department is hired. The trust created that spells out the duties and relationships between the trust department and the customer is a management trust. It makes clear that the trustee is responsible for managing the assets. Sometimes people use this trust to "train" their children to manage assets. It is an excellent vehicle to teach the child how to manage money without losing control. If the child is not careful or acts contrary to the parents wishes, the trust can be revoked or the child removed. 4. Medicaid Trusts. To qualify for nursing home benefits under the federal medicaid program, you must have very limited resources. What is and what is not a "resource" is established by the medicaid guidelines. In 1993 Congress enacted a series of new laws effecting eligibility for these benefits. Before 1993 only a testamentary trust or a special needs trust was a non-resource for medicaid purposes. Now there are several that are not counted against a person in qualifying for government benefits. a. Testamentary Trusts. As with the prior law, any properly drawn trust created by will is not a resource. Thus a husband can establish in his will a trust for the benefit of his wife and not have the trust assets count against her when qualifying for nursing home benefits. These assets can be used for the wife, within certain limits, to supplement her government funded care. Medicaid has an income test as well as a resource test. If you receive too much income (or other benefits) in any one month, you lose your benefits for that month. All distributions from the trust to the spouse (or for her benefit) is counted as income. In making distributions the trustee has to be careful not to exceed the guidelines in any one month. b. Under 65 Disabled Trusts. A disabled person under age 65 can now create a trust for himself (or herself) and not have those trust assets counted as resources. The disabled person can have limited distributions from the trust during his life like those allowed for testamentary trusts. To the extent trust assets are on hand at the death of the recipient, the government is entitled to recover its medicaid expenditures from the trust. Oddly enough once a disabled person reaches age 65 they cannot create this trust. c. Miller Trusts (aka QUIT trust). As noted before, to qualify for medicaid not only must your resources be limited but also your income. Sometimes this results in a person not being eligible for nursing home benefits, but not having sufficient funds to pay for nursing home care. The new federal statute now allows the transfer of all income into a trust. The trust can be used to supplement the recipient during his life as discussed above. However, on the recipient's death, the government must be reimbursed. d. Nonprofit Association Trusts. The 1993 act also allows a recipient to transfer his or her assets into a pooled asset trust established by a nonprofit association for disabled persons. Again, any amounts on hand at the recipient's death are subject to reimbursement. e. Disabled Child Trusts. Finally, the 1993 act allowed a parent to transfer assets to a trust for the sole benefit of a disabled child. The parent would then be immediately eligible for nursing home benefits. The child would be entitled to distributions from the trust for the child's lifetime. On the child's death, the govenment would again be entitled to reimbursement. f. Special Needs Trusts. As before the 1993 act, a third party can create a special needs trust for the medicaid beneficiary. Typically this allows the trustee (in its sole discretion) to make distributions for the benefit of the recipient for needs not provided by governmental benefits. Mandatory Recovery. Prior to 1993 each state could establish its own rules about recovering medicaid benefits. Now Texas is obligated to pursue reimbursement from the probate estate of the medicaid recipients. To date a person's home has not been counted as a "resource" in determining eligibility. Further, until 1993 the home was allowed to pass to the recipient's heirs at death without reimbursment. You may recall that several years ago someone in the State legislature proposed recovering those expenses from the recipient's home on their death. That proposal met with a firestorm of objection and was quickly withdrawn. No one has even suggested taking the home since. But now with the mandatory recovery requirement that may change. This area has been complicated and has now become even more so. However, there are a great many opportunities for planning. As you have seen, trusts are wonderful devices with a great deal of flexibility. They are most useful when coupled with a thoughtful plan about managing your estate and planning its ultimate disposition.
Copyright 1998 by Glenn M. Karisch Last Revised May 15, 1998