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What is an Income Trust?

Income trusts are a type of company that has been structured to pass through all earnings to shareholders. A trust is a legal entity, that seeks to use assets in the best interest of beneficiaries. Some pooled investments are categorized as trusts, and they pass all income (and the tax implications) on to investors. Examples include a real estate investment trust (REIT), a royalty trust, a utility trust, or a business investment trust (also known as a master limited partnership, or MLP). Mutual funds can also fall into this category, but they are not necessarily designed just for income. Continue reading...

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

An Irrevocable Trust is one in which the grantor (the person who creates and funds the trust) cannot modify the trust once created. An irrevocable trust can only be modified or terminated if the beneficiary of the trust authorizes such changes. An Irrevocable Trust allows you to name a Trustee (the person that will handle your assets and will oversee their distribution to your heirs in the event of your incapacitation or death) and define the terms and conditions of the Trust while you’re alive. You can name yourself as the Trustee so you can manage your assets while you’re capable of doing so, and name a secondary Trustee to take over when you’re not. Continue reading...

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust describes a trust designed to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon the death of the owner/grantor, which is established during the life of the grantor. They can take several forms, but most common ones are categorized as either revocable or irrevocable. Living trusts have a similar effect to a Last Will and Testament, both being legal documents that stipulate how the decedent would like property to be divided amongst beneficiaries upon the death of the owner or grantor of the trust. Continue reading...

What is a Revocable Trust?

A Revocable Trust is also known as a Living Trust, and it is an estate planning vehicle that allows you to determine how your assets are dispersed to heirs or other entities. While you are alive, you can modify the trust without restriction. When setting up a Revocable Trust, you generally name a Trustee (the person that will care for the assets in the trust and oversee distribution) and define the terms and conditions of the Trust. It is also possible to name yourself the Trustee in a Revocable Trust while you’re alive, but you should also name a contingent Trustee in the event of your death. Continue reading...

Do I Need a Trust?

Whether or not you need a trust depends on several factors, some of which include: your level of assets, the complexity of your estate planning goals, the control you wish to exercise over your assets after your death, your need for creditor protection, amongst others. Trusts have many features that make them an attractive option for wealthy people – it allows them to avoid taxes in some cases, avoid probate court for heirs, and the ability transfer control of your assets to someone you trust (your selected trustee). It also affords the ability to have the assets span multiple generations, if managed properly. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

A primary difference between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect once you die, but a trust goes into effect when you create it. Beyond that, a will is a more basic estate planning document/tool that determines how your assets should be divided upon your death. On the other hand, a trust goes further in controlling how the assets are distributed. It may stipulate when, how, and to whom the assets will be distributed, and those distributions may not happen immediately but rather over a long stretch of time. Continue reading...

How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Trust?

The cost of setting up a trust varies depending on the type of trust and its complexity, but generally speaking a trust will cost between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Basic trusts can typically be setup using online tools and guides from trusted sources, whereas complex trusts often require the help of an estate planning attorney and a tax attorney. There is also the matter of paying the trustees an annual fee for oversight of the trust, and there may be annual expenses associated with keeping the trust up to date with changes to the law and/or your estate plan. Continue reading...

What is Form 706 GS (D): Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 706 is the Estate Tax return, and it has a section concerning Generation-Skipping Transfers. 706 GS (D), specifically, is the form which 706: GS (D-1) is the corresponding form if the transfer is associated with a trust, which is filed by the trustee. The Generation-Skipping Tax attempts to prevent an estate from transferring too many assets directly to grandchildren instead of children for the purpose of shielding heirs from estate taxes. The form for reporting Generation Skipping Transfers is 706 GS (D), where 706 is the Estate Tax Return filing. Continue reading...

What is an A-B Trust?

An A-B Trust is a plan which actually creates two trusts at the death of the first spouse, and is a strategy intended to avoid as much estate tax risk as possible. Each spouse has an estate tax exclusion amount of $5.45 Million, and laws have made unused exclusion amounts fully portable to the surviving spouse, but for our purposes here, most of the exemption will be used up. So a Bypass Trust will be created which uses some amount of the exclusion, and will take that money out of the estate of the surviving spouse. The spouse can still get some income from this trust and have some discretion and control of the principal amount, but cannot use the principal for themselves. Continue reading...

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Trust?

In most cases, you should consult a tax professional and/or an estate planning attorney for help in setting up a trust. If you’re setting up a trust in the first place, it is likely because you have estate planning needs – which also means you have a level of assets that requires estate planning. Preparing a trust on your own runs the risk of setting it up incorrectly, which can lend itself to legal risks such as challenges from heirs and/or creditors. Continue reading...

What is a Living Will? (in-depth)

A living will is sometimes called an advance directive or a medical directive, and it specifies a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures and other end-of-life issues. If a person is in a coma, for instance, it is intended to provide instructions for their care, including whether or not to use oxygen or “feeding tubes” to keep them alive. This might require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) waiver of some kind, which tells medical staff not to intervene if the person is dying. The living will is different than the “will” that most people are familiar with, which is a Last Will and Testament, stipulating the person’s wishes for their estate after he or she has died. Continue reading...

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person’s death, during which legal documents (such as wills and trusts) are reviewed and enforced. A person’s will generally must be validated by the court, after which the person’s assets are distributed to the heirs accordingly. If there is no will, then the probate court will decide how to distribute the assets, which may not be consistent with the deceased’s actual wishes. Continue reading...

How Do I Prepare a Will?

If your balance sheet is a relatively simple one, and you have very little or no debt, then it may be fine to simply use a trusted online resource. More complicated wills usually require the help of an attorney who can help you and guide you through the process. Be warned though: hiring an attorney will not be cheap, but it may very well be worth the cost in the long run. Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will? How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Will? Continue reading...

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will?

Whether you need professional help depends on the size of your estate and the complexity of your wishes for how to distribute your assets. Generally speaking, however, it makes sense to hire legal help to create your last will and any related trusts, as often times the cost to doing so is less than the cost of probate court and duress to your heirs in settling the estate themselves. What is a Living Will? What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust? How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Will? Continue reading...

Who is a Bond Trustee?

A bond trustee is an institution which has the fiduciary responsibility of administering and enforcing the terms of the bond indenture. A bond indenture is the contract between the bond issuer and the bondholder. A trustee has the resources to manage the distribution of the funds to the bondholders, to keep up with and distribute the required bookkeeping and statement information to the interested parties as well as regulators like the SEC. If there is a violation of the contract, the trustee must report it and act in the best interest of the wronged party. Continue reading...

How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Will?

A simple will can be created for free if a person uses an online template from a trusted source and/or creates the document themselves. Having an attorney create a will may cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the complexity of the estate. If you opt for an online will, the cost will be extremely cheap compared to hiring a professional (possibly a few hundred dollars or even significantly less). Continue reading...

Can I Use Standard Online Wills?

While online will templates may be useful for those with straightforward estate plans, they lack customization and legal guidance. To avoid the risk of creating a contested or unenforceable will, individuals should only use templates from trusted sources and consult an estate planning attorney for complex estate plans, significant assets, or unusual circumstances. Ultimately, a well-crafted will provides peace of mind and security for loved ones, and individuals should take the time to make informed decisions when creating a will. Continue reading...

Should I Notarize my Will?

In general, a will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, each of whom must also sign your will. Whether or not a notarized will is accepted by the court depends on the rules of the state in which you live. You should cross-reference the rules of your state and comply to them, or simply consult an estate planning attorney for the best approach. How is a Will Implemented After my Death? Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will? What is Probate? Continue reading...

What are the Projections for Social Security Benefits?

It looks like the Social Security Trust Funds may be depleted by 2037. The system can most likely continue while paying reduced benefits that come directly from the current social security taxes to the workforce. Estimates are that the Social Security Administration could pay about 70% of its obligations at that point. There is enough money to pay Social Security benefits at the current rate until about 2037. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant?

The Federal Government will give college students who have filled out a FAFSA and are found to be in dire financial need a grant of up to $4,000 a year. The grant does not have to be repaid. The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant provides funding for educational expenses to students with expected family contributions (EFCs). The maximum annual amount that can be received in a SEOG is $4,000 per student. Continue reading...

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