Rick continued to explain four important things to know about trusts:
1. There are many types of trusts, but the most basic is a revocable trust, sometimes referred to as a living trust. A revocable trust is advisable when you have after-tax accounts (not your IRA’s, 401K’s, 403B’s or other pre-tax retirement plans), and you do not want them to go through probate. A revocable trust directs your estate privately, so there is neither a public announcement nor a judge involved in making sure your estate is settled without debt. A revocable trust can also distribute money over time, if your goal is to spread distribution to your family for many years after you pass away. Many times we see trusts distributed this way when the grandchildren are young. So as you can see, the benefits of using a revocable trust can be great. Revocable trust owners need to be aware that if they become disabled their successor trustee must follow their instructions. In essence, the trust can be revoked or changed by you, but your child who takes over in the event you are disabled does not have that same flexibility.
What to watch out for: The biggest possible misstep with a revocable trust comes when you, as the grantor of the trust, become disabled and your adult child takes over when there is language specific to healthcare and your direction to pay for that care from your trust. In this situation, any protection of your assets from long-term care that your child could have used to protect your hard-earned dollars from a medical spend-down is lost.
2. Irrevocable trusts can have many strings attached. You need to know what those are before you enter into an agreement that cannot be changed without court involvement. Irrevocable trusts are great for holding life insurance outside of your taxable estate, if you have no intention of getting to your cash value in the future. Some irrevocable trust planning makes sense when certain types of real estate are involved. Experienced Elder Law Attorneys know how to create hybrid trusts that offer some of the desirable benefits of an irrevocable trust while offering more flexibility and less problematic strings attached.
3. You cannot wrap a trust around your IRA. Your IRA is a pre-tax asset, and it is directed at your death by beneficiary designations. It is critical that you keep a copy of your beneficiary designation form with your legal documents. In the event you die and the custodian cannot find your IRA beneficiary designation, your IRA is paid to your estate and ends up becoming a probate asset that goes through the full process of probate. This cost and delay of probate can easily be avoided by maintaining a copy of your IRA beneficiary designation form.
4. In many situations trusts make sense, but if the trusts are not funded, the benefits are lost. All too often a person seeks out the least expensive trust option desiring value for their money but end up getting absolutely nothing for their money. Once you have a trust, you must link it to the accounts you want governed by the terms and conditions of your trust (could be revocable or irrevocable)
Rick also stressed the importance of getting the opinion of an advisor who can confirm that the assets you own are in fact properly wired to your trust. “Take some time to discuss your trust planning options, and when you decide they are right for you make every effort to ensure they are properly attached to your assets so they ultimately go to those you love,” said Parkes.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Rick Parkes can help you, please visit www.desllc.org
About Rick Parkes:
Rick is co-owner of Diversified Estate Services, LLC and Retirement Investment Strategies a comprehensive financial advisory firm. Diversified Estate Services, LLC and Retirement Investment Strategies is a firm that specializes in assisting individuals to gain clarity, balance and focus which empowers them with confidence. He teaches the powerful knowledge of retirement planning to attorneys, CPAs, and the general public.
Rick Parkes industry designations include Life Underwriter Training Council (LUTC) and Certified Retirement Financial Advisors (CRFA). Rick is also a radio talk show host.
Rick's firm is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau with the highest rating A+, where he is pleased to instill customer confidence of nearly 1,000 consumer’s inquiries. Rick is also a member of the National Ethics Bureau, where he successfully passed the Ethics Check System™, a rigorous eight-point background check for criminal, civil, and business violations.