Passing money to the next generation through the use of trusts

A variety of financial strategies have allowed for perhaps America’s richest family, the Waltons, to hold onto its money going well into a second generation. This has been done in part by the placing of the vast wealth into trusts that have been used in funding various charitable projects.

There is debate as to whether such a strategy is available only to ones that have billions of dollars accumulated. A Walton family spokesperson, however, stated that the estate planning practices of the family “are broadly available and commonly used.” In any event, the estate planning engaged in by the family has been ongoing for over sixty years.

Essentially, how the planning was done, was by providing the assets to their children through the setting up of a trust before these assets in the trust began to appreciate in value. The Walton family has provided a great deal of money to trusts in any number of ways where the assets have substantially appreciated. The appreciation of these trusts in essence allowed for the passing of money to heirs with a minimum of tax consequences.

With interest rates at an all-time low, some authorities feel it is an ideal time for many tax payers to set up trusts to ensure more money is provided to heirs with less tax consequences. It is claimed that these trusts, if set up correctly,
can result in assets growing faster than the money that is being distributed.
Please speak to a qualified estate planning attorney before setting up any kinds of trusts. Though strategies as the one mentioned above may not be available to everyone, attorneys can at least provide various options that may be used.

Source: Financial Post, “How Wal‐Mart’s Walton family holds onto their billions,” Zachary R. Mider, Sep. 12, 2013

Variety of documents attorneys use in estate planning

As there are so many matters that need to be taken into consideration in estate planning, there is not one simple measure that will meet all of an individual’s estate planning needs. Therefore, when helping out clients in estate planning matters, attorneys will often use a variety of tools. This can include wills, trusts, documents that concern incapacity (such as an advance health care directive) and powers of attorney for finances.

We cannot rely on one document alone for estate planning such as a living trust. Though a living trust is invaluable for operation in the event of disability, for the avoidance of assets going through probate or for the minimizing of estate taxes, it is a mistake to conclude that such a trust alone will accomplish everything that we desire.

A trust does require the meeting of a number of legal requirements. It is particularly important to note that every state handles the administration of trusts differently. This is especially true when it comes to laws regarding the preservation and/or distribution of assets at the time of death. It is also true regarding taxes that one’s heirs may have to pay.

Unfortunately, not all attorneys appreciate the complexity of this process. Some attorneys will leave it up to the client to transfer assets correctly without making it clear the exact legal steps that need to be taken. At our firm, we guide the client through the trust funding process. California residents with questions concerning estate planning will need to speak to an attorney licensed to practice law in California with experience in trust and estate matters.

Source: Fox Business, “Documents that Should be Part of Everyone’s Estate Plans,” Andrea Murad, Sep. 4, 2013

WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES?

After the death of a family member, it can be difficult to confront the reality of handling their affairs. We are sympathetic to your feelings and will show compassion at every step of the process.

Our firm provides checklists designed to help you through the estate administration process after a death has occurred. We give you the roadmap of the tasks that you will work on together with your lawyer, accountant, and investment advisors.

Do not feel overwhelmed, since you can complete these steps one at a time, and you have many months to complete the tasks.

See below for an abbreviated example of our comprehensive approach to Trust Administration:
______ Order Several Certified Death Certificates
______ Locate Original Will and Codicils
______ Retain Possession of Trust and All Amendments
______ Notify Social Security of Death
______ Notify All Credit Card Companies of Death
______ Review and Terminate Automatic Distributions (ex. Health Insurance)

It is important to contact your attorney after a death, as the attorney will advise you on whether you need administer a trust or initiate probate.