Let us help you ensure your last wishes are adhered to.
A TRUST WILL HELP YOUR LOVED ONES CARRY OUT YOUR FINAL WISHES
At The Deliberato Law Center, we understand how important it is to create secure and trustworthy documents for the end of life. After all, these are your last wishes and you want to make sure they are adhered to in order to keep your legacy intact and to protect the family you may be leaving behind. With more than 20 years of experience, our trusted team of professionals take this very seriously.
Trust Administration Includes…
Time Sensitive Materials
The process of Trust Administration includes preparing many time-sensitive materials while also making important decisions that have many important tax implications. Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, this could involve Probate law, Property law, and Tax law. This is why it’s important to hire a professional to ensure all these legal documents are taken care of properly.
Probate Litigation Representation
Probate can be a confusing and time-consuming process, and that’s if things run smoothly. On top of that, there are times when issues arise that require litigation, and that’s why it’s important to have representation. We offer representation for issues with contested wills and other probate litigation dealing with beneficiaries and executors just to name a few.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUST ADMINISTRATION
WHAT IS THE TRUST ADMINISTRATION PROCESS AND HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The trust administration can be broken into five simple steps:
- Take an inventory of assets
- Determine estate tax
- Divide trust assets
- File Federal and State tax forms
- Distribute to beneficiaries
While this process sounds straightforward, it can be complicated and time consuming, lasting several months or even years. An inventory of assets has to be completed prior to any other steps, but it can be difficult depending on the complexity of the descendant’s assets. After that is taken care of, the 706 estate tax return has to be filed within 9 months, unless an extension is filed. Generally, it is a good idea to wait as long as possible to file this form, because if the spouse of the decedent passes away before the deadline, then the 706 forms can be used to maximize tax advantages to the estate. The last step of the process, asset distribution, is dependent on the 706 filing. If the filing is complete, the asset distribution should take place after the “closing letter” is received from the IRS. This certifies the acceptance of the 706 return. Closing letters take a minimum of 6 to 8 months, but can take up to three years to arrive, after filing the 706. Additionally, a state estate or inheritance tax return may be required, regardless of whether or not a federal return is necessary.
WHAT IS A REVOCABLE TRUST?
The purpose of a trust is for a person (referred to as the grantor or settlor) to give property to another person (the trustee). The trustee holds and manages the property for the beneficiaries (the people named in the trust who will receive assets). A revocable trust, or a living trust, is a type of trust that the grantor can revoke or amend during their lifetime as they see fit. Oftentimes the grantor, or their spouse, is also the trustee for a revocable trust. This type of trust can be funded with property such as checking accounts, savings accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks and bonds, a home and other real estate. Revocable trusts do not need to be initially funded, but can be at a later date or at the time of the grantor’s death. An experienced attorney can help to advise when a trust should be funded and with what property. The terms of a trust are described in a declaration of trust, or a trust agreement, which is signed by the grantor and the trustee.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSIDER IMPLEMENTING A REVOCABLE TRUST?
There are several reasons to create a revocable trust. One positive of revocable trusts is that they avoid probate. If you are the grantor and you re-title your property in the name of a trustee of a revocable trust, property is not generally subject to probate court after you die. A trust can also provide estate management for your family when you’re gone.
Lastly, creating a trust also can reduce or defer taxes, and provide flexibility. The best way to determine if a revocable trust is right for you, consult an experienced attorney.
DOES A REVOCABLE TRUST PROTECT AGAINST CHALLENGES BY BENEFICIARIES OR HEIRS?
Heirs and beneficiaries have the ability to challenge the validity of a revocable trust on the same grounds as challenging a wills. For three months, beneficiary or heir can claim that the grantor was incompetent at the time of establishing a trtust or will and was inordinately influenced by another person to establish the trust a certain way. However, in some cases it can be challenged for up to two years.
Executor commissions are dictated by state law and are generally comprised as a percentage of the value of the assets of the estate. This usually amounts to between one and four percent of the value of assets (plus the income on those assets). The value varies depending on the nature, amount, and title of assets at the time of the decedent’s death.The law does not set the payment amount for a trustee of revocable trusts, though they do get paid a fee. A spouse or other family member can act as an executor or trustee and the commission fee is often waived in that circumstance.
An executor can also hire an attorney to assist in the administration of a probate estate, and a trustee can hire an attorney to assist in the administration of a revocable trust after the death of the grantor. Attorney fees are often lower for a revocable trust because the terms do not require the preparation of an inventory or accounts. However, getting advice from an attorney and other services for income tax andany estate tax issues is similar for both probate and revocable trusts regardless of whether the advice is given to the executor of the estate or the trustee.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF PROBATE VS. A REVOCABLE TRUST?
Court costs vary on a case by case basis, but they often average $200-$250 dollars, which a revocable trust does not require. If estate tax is applicable, there will be appraisal fees to determine the value of real estate. Appraisal fees may also incur for property such as jewelry, artwork, collections, and interests in private companies. However, a revocable trust may also require these same fees. If estate tax applies, an estate tax return must be filed by the estate or trust. In Ohio, estate tax has been repealed for descendants dying after December 31, 2012. Appraisals are necessary to determine the value of the estate’s assets, and they can establish the estate property for federal income tax purposes.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF A REVOCABLE TRUST AS OPPOSED TO PROBATE?
Terms of a revocable trust reside in a private document. This differs from a will, where the terms as well as the beneficiaries are a matter of public record once it has been filed with the probate court. During the probate process, the inventory of assets and the written account of receipts and disbursements of the estate become public record. The administration of a revocable trust is not usually made public.
In addition to increased privacy, a revocable trust allows for more independence and control of the trustee, relative to an executor.
The cost of probate is greater than a revocable trust. The probate process includes court costs, appraisal fees, executors’ commissions, and attorney fees. A
A revocable trust’s transfer process is also expedited compared to probate. A trustee can begin distributing assets to beneficiaries right after the death of the grantor. On the other hand, an executor cannot distribute assets until he or she is appointed by the probate court and the will is admitted to probate. This process takes one to two weeks. While this sounds great, it is not always sensible to distribute assets immediately, as an executor can be personally liable for the claims of creditors left unpaid by the estate (this includes unpaid federal or Ohio estate taxes). Because of this, the executor won’t distribute to beneficiaries until he or she is satisfied that valid claims have been paid and estate taxes have been finally determined and paid. The trustee of a revocable trust can also be held personally liable for unpaid estate taxes, and, sometimes, unpaid creditors.
Multiple probate proceedings could be necessary if homes or other real property are owned in multiple states. In this case, a revocable trust is useful to avoid multiple probate proceedings.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF A REVOCABLE TRUST COMPARED TO PROBATE?
Implementing a revocable trust is more time consuming than establishing a will. Unfortunately, in order to avoid probate you have to do more than sign a revocable trust agreement. To effectively avoid probate, the grantor’s assets must be re-titled or validly transferred to the trustee of the revocable trust during the grantor’s lifetime. Any assets that are acquired after the revocable trust is created need to be titled in the name of the trustee, otherwise they will be subject to probate.
Although revocable trusts have cost advantages during probate following death, a will has cost advantages during an individual’s lifetime. It is more expensive to create a revocable trust, and creating a revocable trust does not replace the need for a will. A will names the executor who will administer assets that were not transferred to the trust during the grantor’s life. A will is also necessary in naming parental gardens for the grantor’s children.
Administration of revocable trusts are not generally supervised by probate court except for in rare, extenuating circumstances. While this cuts down on costs, it also puts more pressure on choosing the right trustee to appoint, as they will not be subject to oversight by a judge. Therefore, choosing a trustee is very important and should be well thought through.
Lastly, the Internal Revenue Code has provisions that benefit estates over trusts, but revocable trusts can elect to be taxed as an estate for a limited period to eliminate this issue.
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CONTACT THE DELIBERATO LAW CENTER
If you are ready to get started with estate planning, Medicaid planning or any other elder law services, or just need to ask a question about how to protect your assets, please complete the brief form below and a member of our legal team with get in touch with you shortly!
LAW FIRM LOCATIONS
6200 Rockside Road
Independence, OH 44131
6000 Venture Dr.
Dublin, OH 43017