Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grantor vs Non-Grantor Trusts

I received a call a couple of days ago from previous clients who asked whether or not they needed to get a tax number for their trust.  They did not understand that as their trust was a revocable trust (also known as a grantor trust) meaning they had full control of trust assets, their social security numbers were automatically the tax identification numbers for the trust and any trust income should be filed on the grantors' 1040. Only when a trust is or becomes irrevocable (or is known as a non-grantor trust) do the trustees acquire a separate tax identification number and file a 1041 as long as the irrevocable trust is in existence.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Cost of Death on the Rise

It can be expensive to die, and I am not talking medical bills at the end of life.  The cost to purchase burial items are expensive.  An article written by Michael De Groote in the Deseret News by Michael De Groote dated January 23, 2014 discusses two points.  One point is that cost of burial paraphernalia is increasing with the cost of living.  A second point is surviving family members often make poor funeral purchase decisions during the death crisis.  It is our opinion here at Hughes Estate Group that pre-funeral planning is more likely to keep costs down.  It also allows family members the freedom to grieve properly without dealing with unnecessary money decisions.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gifts To Grandchildren

Gifts given to grandchildren by grandparents can be a great blessing.  Kelly Greene wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal September 14, 2012, titled "Are You Coddling Your Grandkids?"  In her article, Ms. Greene indicates five ways to give to a grandchild something and at the same time not creating a sense of entitlement from a grandchild.
First, Ms. Greene says you must, "Pare your gifts to offset the pain."  In other words, don't give to the extent that you jeopardize your own financial care.
Second, Ms. Greene say you might consider making a gift a loan rather than an outright gift.  If the loan is handled properly, it might be a good way to help the grandchild and at the same time allowing them to make their own way in the world.
Third, Ms. Greene says a grandparent can create teaching moments.  Gifting stock or investments rather than cash can be a way of teaching grandchildren the value of money as an example.
Fourth, Ms. Greene says it is a good idea to delay a grandchild's gratification.  Gifting money at certain dates or events rather than on a regular basis can help grandchildren rely on their own resources first.
Fifth, Ms. Greene counsels to practice equality.  One of the most common reasons for litigation between family members if perceived favoritism. 
As you choose to gift assets, it is wise to take into account the feelings of family members and how said gifts will affect them in the long run.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year's Goal: Charitable Giving

Often charitable giving is associated with the end of the year decision to give to charity in order to lower tax liabilities for income taxes and estate taxes. Charitable giving also is associated with gifting to charities upon death in order to lower an individual's estate taxes.
There are a couple of interesting articles regarding different ways of looking at charitable giving.
One article written by Claudia Buck titled, "Personal Finance: You don't have to be super-rich to give to charity," talks about anyone rich or less rich can leave money to charities upon death.
Another article written by Dan Pollotta of the Wall Street Journal titled, "Why Can't We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume?" talks about the idea of allowing non-profit organizations to compete with for-profit organizations to encourage more charitable services to make a profit that then can do even more good for society.
No matter what your circumstances, estate planning can include charitable inclinations and desires.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Choosing The Right Fiduciary--Trustee, Agent, Personal Representative

In an article written September 10, 2012, by Jeanne Skowronski of the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Skowronski writes about the importance of choosing the right trustee to serve as the fiduciary of your estate.  Ms. Skowronski talks about four questions which she feels should be asked in deciding who should serve as fiduciary.  She asks:

- How large and complex are the assets in the trust?
- Can anyone in your family do the job?
- How are the relationships between your beneficiaries?
- Have you explored other options?

Here at Hughes Estate Group, we emphasize the great importance of choosing the right individual or entity to serve as the fiduciary of a person's estate.  We ask a series of questions in order to help you determine the best fiduciaries for your estate plan. 

We feel there should be much more deliberation in determining who should serve than simply naming your first born child for example or even the child most able to handle finances.  The relationships between siblings and many other issues also hold great bearing on who should be named as the individual or individuals to take care of your affairs at your incapacity or death. It is important to ask the right questions in deciding who should serve as trustee of your trust, or agent of your power of attorney, or personal representative of your will or estate. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolution

At the beginning of this new year, we at Hughes Estate Group wish all a happy and successful year.  We would encourage everyone to set a goal for this year to either get an estate plan in place (if a plan is not in place) or review and update any existing estate plan (if a plan does exist).  Death is something we will all experience.  Ensuring the smooth transition of one's estate to beloved beneficiaries is one of the best gifts a person can give his or her family.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Is A Power of Appointment Used?

Generally a power of apointment is used in estate planning.  For example, a donor may want to give authority to a fiduciary/donee to apoint assets in the fiduciary/donee's discretion to an incapacitated beneficiary.  A power of appointment can be included in a power of attorney, a will, or a trust.  Where a donor does not want to give a fiduciary a power of appointment, it is important to make that desire clear in estate planning documents in order to avoid an IRA argument that the assets the fiduciary is simply managing as a fiduciary are actually part of the fiduciary's estate for estate or gift tax purposes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Power of Appointment Types

There are two types of powers of appointment:  a general power of appointment and a limited (special) power of appointment.  Each of these types of powers carries different and significant tax implications.

General Power of Appointment:
In a general power of appointment the donor gives the donee authority to appoint (transfer) the donor's rights, assets, or items to anyone the donee wishes, including the donee himself.  Potential adverse tax consequences accrue to a donee who possesses a general power of appointment: the rights, assets, or items which the donee has power to appoint are considered the donee's property for gift and estate tax purposes.

Limited (Special) Power of Appointment:
In a limited (special) power of appointment the donor limits the donee's authority to appoint (transfer) the donor's rights, assets, or items.  The authority may be limited in various ways.  For example, the donee may be limited in regard the the persons to whom he or she can appoint assets; or the donee may be limited in regard to the times at which he or she can appoint assets; or the donee may be limited in regard to the purposes for which he or she can appoint assets (for instance, the health, education, maintenance, or support of the appointee).  In certain circumstances the donee possessing a limited power of appointment and the appointee may be the same person.  With a limited (special) power of appointment, the Internal Revenue Service usually does not consider the rights, assets, or items subject to appointment to be owned by the donee in determining the donee's own gift and estate taxes.  In estate planning, generally a limited (special) power of appointment is preferred over a general power of appointment.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Power of Appointment

Parties involved with a power of appointment are:
"Donor" is the person who creates a power of appointment.  The donor is usually the owner of rights, assets, or items being ultimately appointed by the donee.
"Donee" or "holder" refers to the person who possesses a power of appointment--who has been named to appoint or transfer all or a portion of an owner's rights, assets, or items.
"Appointee" is the person who receives the rights, assets, or items as a result of the power of appointment being exercised.
"Taker in Default" is the person who receives the rights, assets, or items if the power of appointment is not exercised.

General Definition:
A "power of appointment" is a unique power given to a donee (holder) by a donor to distribute the donor's rights, assets, or items usually at the donor's death to appointees.  A donee of a power of appointment is different than a personal representative or trustee.  A donee of a power of appointment does not have the responsibility of managing a person's estate or trust assets.  Rather, the donee has the authority to appoint the donor's rights, assets, or items to appointees.  There are two types of powers of appointment: a general power of appointment and a limited (special) power of appointment.  Each of these types of powers carries different and significant tax implications.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Requirements of a Care Agreement

A care agreement is a formal agreement between two parties. One party is providing services. The other party is hiring said individual to provide said services. A care agreement
• must be a formal contract between parties;
• must name the parties involved in the care agreement.
• must outline service and duty terms.
• must outline payment terms.
• must outline breach of contract terms.
• must outline termination of contract terms.
• must outline length of time the contract is valid/active.
• must allow for mutual amendments or changes to contract.
• must be signed and dated by all parties (parent(s) and family member(s)).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Elements of Care in Care Agreements

Care agreements can be customized to each family’s particular situation. The following are basic elements of care that can be explained in a care agreement: 
• Personal Assistance
• Personal Hygiene
• Meals
• Laundry
• Housekeeping
• Transportation Services
• Yard Care
• Shopping
• Social Contacts
• Religious Needs
• Intellectual and Emotional Needs

Monday, May 14, 2012

Purposes of Family Care Agreements

There are many good reasons for families to enter into care agreements, particularly agreements in which a family member is paid for services rendered. 
First, a care agreement spells out for the parent, family, and third parties the details of care a family member will provide to an ailing parent. Caring for a parent even occasionally can be a physical, time-consuming, emotional, and financial burden for a family member. Acting as a parent’s full-time, primary caregiver can be deeply burdensome. A care agreement spells out details of care in a way that is illuminating and helpful for everyone involved.

Second, when a parent needs help, family members often rally around and provide service for their parents free of charge. But caring for a parent can be a significant financial burden, not to speak of the physical and emotional burdens (in taking time off work or in taking time away from their own family duties, for example). A wise parent will set forth in a care agreement details regarding compensation of family members for care services the family performs on the parent’s behalf.

Third, a memorialized care agreement prevents family resentments and disagreements regarding said payments. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings often occur in families during the time an aging parent is being cared for by family members. A carefully drafted care agreement protects in numerous ways a family member serving an aging parent.

Fourth, a care agreement has Medicaid advantages. Without a formal care agreement, the funds used to pay family members are treated as part of the ailing parent’s assets or income for Medicaid eligibility purposes. On the other hand, if an ailing parent is paying a family member (or anticipates paying a family member in the future) for services, a formal care agreement ensures that funds used to pay family members are not treated as the ailing parent’s assets or income for Medicaid eligibility requirements.