Articles Posted in Irrevocable Trust

Yes A Spendthrift Provisions Can Protect Against Civil Judgments

What is a Spendthrift Provision? One of the best forms of asset protection we can provide is through a trust that contains a spendthrift provision.  In a revocable trust, a spendthrift provision has some significant benefits such as protection against your beneficiaries’ creditors.

So what exactly does a spendthrift provision do?  A spendthrift provision is a provision within a revocable or irrevocable trust that limits the beneficiary’s access to trust.  This restriction protects the trust property in two ways, it prevents a beneficiary from selling his or her interest in the trust property as a beneficiary, and it prevents the beneficiary’s creditors from compelling the trustee to make distributions except where this would void public policy like in the case of alimony, child support and some civil judgements.
Continue reading

Every trustee of a Florida Trust may have a fundamental duty to keep the trust’s beneficiaries informed of the administration of the trust.  Florida Statute Section 763.0813 provides that a trustee must keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust “reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.”

The statutes do provide a few examples of what a trustee must do, such as providing the qualified beneficiary with the trustee’s contact information, notice of the establishment of an irrevocable trust, notice of the right to receive a copy of the trust document, and a notice of the right to receive accountings.

Note, there are ways in Florida to avoid having to provide many of the details to beneficiaries, but you must specify them in advance.
Who is a  Qualified Beneficiary in Florida

Many of our Florida clients are surprised to learn that the term “qualified beneficiary” does not mean what a client would assume.  A qualified beneficiary not only includes beneficiaries who are eligible to receive a distribution from an irrevocable trust but also includes the first-in-line remainder beneficiaries.

This is a significant requirement because some other states may permit a settlor, the person that creates the trust, to withhold information from certain beneficiaries.  The settlor may wish to withhold information for one reason or another, and certain states will allow the settlor to do so for a certain period without providing an alternate recipient if the settlor includes this provision in the trust instrument.  However, Florida is not one of these states, and the settlor cannot dictate that only certain beneficiaries can receive administrative information in the trust document.


Continue reading

For a trust to be legally valid, it must have six elements.  One of these required elements is that the settlor of the trust, or the person that creates the trust, must intend to create the trust.  For a court to recognize this element, there must be a manifestation of intent by the settlor.

The manifestation of intent is important because it must be present for a court to hold a trust is valid.  A ruling on validity would come into play if a beneficiary or another interested party challenged the validity of a trust.  For a court to uphold a trust as valid, it would need to ensure that all of the elements are present.

The Elements of a Valid Trust in Florida

As stated above, there are six main elements of a valid trust created in Florida.  These elements are:

Continue reading

Can a grantor be a trustee?

The Irrevocable trust is one of the most valuable tools for estate planning and Florida asset protection that is available. These trusts are not only a great way to pass assets outside of probate, but also allow assets to be protected from creditors. For an irrevocable trust to be valid, a person or entity must serve as the trustee, or manager, of the trust. The Trustee is a person who is responsible for accounting and managing the trust’s assets for the beneficiaries of the trust. Naturally, a question our firm often receives is can I (the grantor/creator of the trust) serve as the trustee?

Can a grantor be a trustee of an Irrevocable Trust? The now outdated school of thought was that a grantor should never serve as the trustee because it could potentially make the trust’s assets available to the grantor’s creditors – thus defeating the asset protection benefits offered by an irrevocable trust. The belief came from section 2036 of the tax code, which states any trust where the grantor retains the right to possess or enjoy the property or designate who will possess and enjoy the trust property will make the principal of the trust includable in the grantor’s estate at death for estate tax purposes.

Continue reading

Incentive trusts are important to consider with estate planning.

One of the best tools in estate planning for encouraging positive behavior is through an “incentive trust.”  An Incentive trust is a trust like any other, which rewards the beneficiaries when they meet certain objectives or goals in their lives.

Many of us would like to think that our children and grandchildren will become responsible adults and use their inheritance for great things.  However, as many of our clients know, it can often be hard to motivate younger generations when they have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.  The theory behind incentive trusts is that parents can help guide their loved ones by offering financial incentives to meet certain goals.  For instance, an incentive trust could award a child $200,000 for graduating college.  In many cases, our clients match the income that their children earn.  This provides an incentive to be a higher wage earner. We believe incentive trusts, when used in a sensitive and careful manner, can be great tools for using wealth to help nudge children and grandchildren in the right direction.

An incentive trust is a legal entity that holds and manages funds usually for the benefit of another person known as the beneficiary.  The trust is managed by a trustee, who is in charge or giving the funds to the beneficiary at his discretion or when certain objectives have been met.

Continue reading

A trust can be amended it a number of ways depending on whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. Usually, an irrevocable trust cannot be modified unless there is a judicial modification or the trust terms allow for a modification. A recent court ruling in Florida now provides that a “trust protector” may amend a trust.

What is a trust protector? A trust protector is a person that is appointed to watch over the trust and to ensure the trust is not adversely affected by a change of law or other circumstance. A trust protector can be appointed when the terms of the trust specifically confer on a trustee or other person the power to direct the modification or termination of the trust. The law concerning trust protectors in Florida stems from section 808 of the Uniform Trust Code, or UTC, and the case, Minassian v. Rachins, was the first major court decision to interpret this provision of the Florida Trust Code. Continue reading

Naming a trust as a beneficiary of life insurance policy can have a huge benefit for people with large estates that are not taxable. It is also a great way to protect the insurance proceeds from future creditors and to help beneficiaries better manage their assets

There are a few common types of trusts that can serve as the owner or beneficiary of a life insurance policy. These trustees might include: an irrevocable life insurance trust, a living trust, a special needs trust and a spendthrift trust.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

This type of trust, often referred to as ILIT, is used to irrevocably purchase insurance on the life of the grantor of the trust. This means the trust will have actual ownership of the policy, rather than the person the policy is for. This is done usually to avoid the taxing of life insurance proceeds at death under the Federal estate tax.  Since the person does not actually own the life insurance policy, the proceeds are not subject to estate tax or included in that person’s estate when he or she dies.

Once a person with an ILIT dies, the insurance proceeds will be deposited into the ILIT. Usually, an ILIT is set up to provide for the other spouse during his or her lifetime, and the balance passes to the children or other named beneficiaries.

ILITs are typically used to save money on estate taxes by ensuring the life insurance proceeds would not be included in the insured person’s estate.   In 2002, the estate tax exemption was only $1 million. Since 2013, Congress has raised the estate tax exemption has been raised to $5.43 million, and $10.86 for married couples.  This much higher exemption means a large number of estates are no longer facing estate taxes. However, those with larger estates can still benefit greatly from the use of an ILIT. In addition, some families are still using ILITs incase the estate tax exception is lowered in the future.

Living Trusts Continue reading

Most people assume when they receive an inheritance, either through a will or a trust, that they must accept it. This is actually not the case as a beneficiary is also allowed to disclaim, or not to accept, the inheritance. Refusing an inheritance may seem like an alien concept, but can actually be the best course of action for many beneficiaries in some situations.

There are many reasons to disclaim an inheritance, with the most common reason being to avoid costly taxes. A common example of this might happen when parents leave money to affluent adult children. In this case, the children could disclaim the inheritance in order for the grandchildren to receive the inheritance instead. The money would then be taxed at the grandchildren’s tax rate rather the adult’s rate, which could save a large portion of the inheritance from being taxed. In addition, if the disclaimed assets would not be subject to the estate taxes of the parent.

Letting the inheritance pass to the next beneficiary through a disclaimer can be a much more efficient process compared to the beneficiary accepting the gift and passing the gift to the next beneficiary herself.   This is especially true if the gift is real property as is does not require the first beneficiary to go through the re-titling process. Someone with a large estate can also use a disclaimer to save on gift taxes, which will be incurred if the beneficiary takes the inheritance and passes it to another person.

The duties of a trustee vary depending on the laws of the state in which the trust is situated and the extent of the trustee’s powers provided for in the trust agreement. In some cases where there are conflicts between the terms of the trust and the state laws, the duty or obligation can vary depending on what the state law permits. In some cases, the terms of the trust will prevail and in others, the default law cannot be modified by the terms of the trust. When you become a trustee of a trust, it is recommended that you sit down with a trust attorney to review the terms of the trust as well as how state law may impact the written terms of the trust.

In addition, the type of trust can change your obligations and the role of a trustee in dealing with beneficiaries. Below is a list of some of the typical duties that are contained in trust agreements and the laws of many states:

Fiduciary Duty. A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust, This includes both the current beneficiaries and any remainder beneficiary’s name in the trust. A fiduciary duty is a very high standard to do what is in the best interest of the beneficiary. This is not necessarily what the beneficiary asks for or what you want.

The Trust’s Terms. It is important to read the terms of the trust carefully and understand your duties and how state laws may impose additional provisions or remove or modify the terms of the trust. The trust is a flow chart of what actions you must take and when. Some states, like Florida, reduce the statute of limitations when certain disclosures are made. This can reduce the potential liability of a trustee to the beneficiaries. Continue reading

In Florida, a trust is not valid until funded.  Many trusts need to be funded prior to your death to be used in the way intended.  Often, individuals create trusts and forget to fund them during their life and do not receive the benefits that their trusts were designed for. There are 4 major ways to fund a trust.

  1. Purchase items in the name of the trust.  New property or items can be purchased in the name of the trust.  When you purchase a new item or asset, the sale can be made out to the trust.  Anyone can purchase these items, it need not be the creator or settlor of the trust.
  2. Assign items to the trust. Generally, when a trust is created, many items can be transferred to the trust by the use of an assignment of personal property.  This document will transfer personal property which does not require a deed or title to the trust.  This is good for personal property like clothing, jewelry, and other minor issues. One needs to be careful not to assign firearms to your trust unless it is a gun trust as many traditional trusts do not properly deal with firearms issues properly and can cause legal and criminal issues for those who survive you.  If you sign an assignment of personal property, you should exclude firearms unless the firearms are being assigned to a gun trust.
Contact Information