February 4th, 2020

Should an Estate Plan Include a Trust?

Estate planning is a complex process and applies to all adults age 18 and older. However, there is a misconception about estate plans, as many people believe they may not need one if their net worth is minimal. And, what about Trusts? Should an estate plan include a Trust?

Attorney Nick Nanovic joined Valley National Financial Advisors’ Laurie Siebert to discuss this topic on WDIY’s Your Financial Choices show. In an episode entitled “Trusts – When Do They Make Sense?,” the two shared their knowledge.

In addition to basic estate planning documents, such as a Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, there are various types of Trusts that may make sense. Consider some of the most common Trusts in an estate plan below:

Testamentary Trust

This is a Trust that lives within your Will document and does not exist until after your death. You can modify the terms of this type of Trust any time that you update your Will. Although this does not provide any tax savings or protection from your own creditors, this type of Trust is very common to protect the inheritances of your beneficiaries.

Revocable or Living Trust

After a Testamentary Trust, the most common Trust is a Revocable or Living Trust. Because the Trust is revocable, you can move assets in and out of the Trust at any time during your life. This type of Trust may be useful to avoid probate and the risk of administering your Estate in several jurisdictions.

In PA, probate fees are not typically considered burdensome, but certain individuals may consider a Revocable or Living Trust if the potential probate fees are large enough. Additionally, if you own real estate in several states, your Executor will be required to administer your Estate in each of those states. However, if that real estate is owned by your Pennsylvania Trust rather than you, all interests in real estate will be governed by Pennsylvania law and it will not be necessary to administer your Estate in several jurisdictions.

As a caveat, every individual must review the tax consequences of moving real estate into a Pennsylvania Trust before executing a new deed.

Irrevocable Trust

An Irrevocable Trust, the opposite of the Revocable Trust, generally cannot be changed once it is created. This type of Trust is often used to remove assets from your taxable Estate. Proceed with caution; you should not expect to ever have access to any assets that you move into an Irrevocable Trust.

AB or Marital Trust

If you created your estate plan with a spouse prior to 2010, it’s likely you included an AB or Marital Trust. This type of Trust divides your assets between a Marital Trust and a Non-Marital Trust (sometimes referred to as a Family Trust). The purpose of this type of planning was to minimize any potential Federal Estate Tax. However, with the introduction of portability in 2010 and the increased exemption rates, this type of plan may no longer be necessary for you. If you have this type of Trust, consider whether it is still useful to you under today’s laws.

These trusts and more were discussed by Nick and Laurie. Listen to the full WDIY podcast featuring Attorney Nick Nanovic here. See if your estate plan should include a Trust.