Provided by Avi Ashkenazy
What is the sign of a good decision? It’s putting what’s important to you first.
Did you realize that your assets owned at death are generally subject to federal and state taxes? A significant percentage of your estate may go towards tax liabilities. Unless you plan ahead, your legacy becomes open to public scrutiny through the probate process.
There are steps you can take to help make sure that your loved ones, possessions, and passions are taken care of in the manner you wish and that your affairs remain confidential.
When thinking about the future, consider how family will be cared for, who will inherit property, and how assets will be distributed.
• What happens to your property after you pass away?
• How will loved ones maintain their standard of living?
• How will your estate pay final expenses and taxes?
• Can your taxable estate be reduced with lifetime gifting strategies?
• How may the transfer of your assets be impacted by federal gift and estate tax guidelines?
A well-designed plan can provide you a way to accumulate, conserve, and protect your assets during your lifetime. At the heart of many estate and tax plans is a versatile tool called a “trust.” A “Trust Agreement” is a legal document that establishes a trust and enables it to hold property for the benefit of a third party.
A common technique to minimize estate taxes involves an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT). A properly structured and administered ILIT may keep your life insurance policy’s death benefit out of your estate, so proceeds will benefit the people and places you care about most.
Trusts can help you address your most important concerns. You may be able to provide income for the people and places that matter the most, while minimizing estate taxes and providing funds for estate settlement costs. In addition, you may be able to shelter assets from creditors and continue to maintain influence over distribution of your assets after death. By avoiding probate, you can keep your financial matters private.
Trusts are legal entities involving three parties: grantor, trustee, and beneficiary. As the grantor, you craft the trust document with help from experienced trust specialists, and provide the assets. You also determine the beneficiaries or the individuals or groups (such as charities or colleges) that will be recipients of benefits.
You then choose a trustee to manage the assets in the interests of the beneficiaries you name. The trustee is responsible for following your wishes as expressed in the Trust Agreement. You can name a relative or friend as trustee. Many people select a professional trustee as sole or co-trustee with a family member. Professional trustees such as the MassMutual Trust Company, FSB, offer investment planning, diversification and oversight, tax reporting and preparation, prudent asset management and distribution, fiduciary account management and client reporting, access to investment services for individuals, families and businesses, and bill payment.
Many children may not be mature enough to handle a large inheritance at age 18, or even 25. With a trust, you could choose to have distributions made in small amounts over time.
Having a better understanding of how a trust can provide tax advantages and help you manage and control the accumulation and distribution of your assets over time puts you in a good position to start planning for the future. Now might be the right time to think about what’s important to you and the legacy you want to leave to your family and the people and places you hold most dear.
Call your financial advisor today and start the conversation. v
Avi Ashkenazy is a financial representative with Lee, Nolan & Koroghlian, LLC, a MassMutual Agency. Courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). Avi Ashkenazy can be reached by telephone at 646-867-8311, 917-767-9053 (mobile) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.