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Top 10 Types of Trusts

Posted by Mona O'Connor | Sep 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Considering the myriad of trusts available, creating the right estate plan can seem daunting. However, that is what we, as estate planning attorneys, do every day! We know the laws and will design a plan which addresses your specific circumstances. 

Here is a brief summary of ten common trusts to provide you with a general understanding of the options that are available. When we meet, all you need to do is be prepared to share your goals and insight into your family and financial situation, and we will design a plan that incorporates the best documents for your situation.

1.     Marital Trust. A marital trust is designed to protect the accounts and property for the surviving spouse's benefit, as well as qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. These accounts and pieces of property are excluded from estate tax at the first spouse's death but are included in his or her estate for tax purposes.

2.     Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust. A qualified terminable interest property trust initially provides income to the surviving spouse and, upon the surviving spouse's death, the remaining money and property are distributed to other named beneficiaries, while still allowing the trust to qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. These are commonly used in second marriage situations and to maximize estate and generation-skipping tax exemptions and tax planning flexibility.

3.     Bypass Trust. Commonly referred to as a credit shelter trust, family trust, or B trust, a bypass trust contains a portion of a deceased spouse's accounts and property and uses the deceased spouse's lifetime exclusion amount to reduce or eliminate estate tax. Because the estate tax is calculated at the first spouse's death, this trust is bypassed for estate tax purposes at the second spouse's death.

4.     Charitable Lead Trust. A charitable lead trust is a trust which provides a stream of income to a charity of your choice for a period of years or a lifetime. At the completion of the period of years, or at death, whatever is left goes to you or your loved ones with significant tax savings.

5.     Charitable Remainder Trust.  A charitable remainder trust is a trust which provides a stream of income to you for a period of years or a lifetime and then gives the remainder to the charity of your choice with significant tax savings once the period of years or death has occurred. 

6.     Special Needs Trust. A special needs trust allows you to provide money or property for the benefit of someone with special needs without disqualifying that individual from receiving governmental benefits. Federal laws allow special needs beneficiaries to receive certain types of benefits from a carefully crafted trust without defeating eligibility for government benefits.

7.     Generation-Skipping Trust. There is a special tax, called the generation-skipping transfer tax, that is imposed if you leave money to your grandchildren, rather than your children! A generation-skipping trust allows you to distribute your money and property to your grandchildren, or even to later generations, without that special taxation, by using your lifetime exemption to offset any tax that could be due.

8.     Grantor Retained Annuity Trust. A grantor retained annuity trust is an irrevocable trust which provides you with an annuity for a specific amount of time based on the value of the property in the trust and upon completion of the annuity period, the remaining money and property is transferred to those you have named. This type of trust is used to make large financial gifts to your loved ones of accounts or property that are expected to grow in value at a higher rate than the annuity rate being paid back to you.

9.     Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. An irrevocable life insurance trust is designed to own high-value life insurance and receive the death benefit payment upon the trustmaker's death. The benefit of this type of trust is that the life insurance proceeds are excluded from the deceased's estate for tax purposes. However, the proceeds are still available to provide liquidity to pay taxes, equalize inheritances, fund buy-sell agreements, or provide an inheritance.

10. Testamentary Trust. A testamentary trust is a trust created in a will. This type of trust is created upon the individual's death and is commonly used to protect the money and property on behalf of a beneficiary as opposed to transferring the money and property to the beneficiary outright. It can be used when a beneficiary is too young to manage their own money or property, has medical or drug issues, or may be incapable of responsibly managing their own money. The trust can also provide asset protection from lawsuits, or a claim by a divorcing spouse brought against the beneficiary. Unlike a revocable living trust or an irrevocable trust, where property should be transferred into a trust during the trustmaker's lifetime to work properly and to avoid probate, testamentary trusts can only be created and maintained through the probate court process, which can be lengthy and expensive.

As you can see, there are many types of trusts available. We will help you select which trusts, if any, are a good fit for you. Call today to schedule your in-person or virtual appointment. We are here to help!

About the Author

Mona O'Connor

Mona L. O'Connor joined the firm in 2008 and is currently a partner with O'Connor Law Offices. She is a J.D., C.P.A. and her primary areas of practice include estate planning and trust administration.


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