Our practice focuses on wealth management and helping clients and their families plan for the future in shaping their wills, and in the right situation, a trust, along with a durable power of attorney and advanced health care directive. We welcome the opportunity to provide peace of mind in preparing for life’s events.
Revocable Living Trust
Depending on the size of your estate and your age, you may also consider creating a revocable living trust during your lifetime, in addition to a simple will which “pours” your remaining assets into the trust at your death. To accomplish this, you must transfer title of your assets into the name of the revocable living trust in order to avoid probate. As trustees, you maintain control over the trust during your lifetime, and manage the trust for your own benefit.
If you become disabled and unable to manage your financial affairs, you can preselect the person who will take over as trustee and will manage the trust for your benefit. The trust will direct how the successor trustee distributes the trust assets after you are gone. You can find additional information about revocable living trusts on the Oregon State Bar link here.
Credit Shelter Trust (CST) or a Disclaimer Trust (DT)
Because at the time a will is written, we don't know the future, or what assets you will have when you pass away, or what the estate tax laws may be, a credit shelter trust (CST) or disclaimer trust (DT) may be appropriate. Both of these trusts can save taxes (which are assessed at as much as 55% of the assets over the exempt amount for federal taxes).
When two people are married, and both are U.S. citizens, both the federal and Oregon state law allow an unlimited amount of money and assets to pass to the surviving spouse, free of any estate taxes. The estate taxes are paid when assets over the "exempt amount" are passing to someone other than the surviving spouse (for example, children). The State of Oregon "exempt amount" is one million dollars. There are no current plans to change that amount. The federal "exempt amount" is currently $5,430,000 per individual. Of course, Congress could change that amount in the future.
A benefit of an estate planning will or trust is that it allows a couple to double the "exempt amount" for Oregon estate taxes, and save a substantial amount of inheritance taxes. In an estate planning will there is a trust that can be set up with the surviving spouse as the trustee and beneficiary. The surviving spouse takes all of the income of the trust assets, and as much of the principal as necessary for basic needs. This keeps the assets in trust separate from the assets that would be inherited by the spouse outright.
A CST requires the maximum amount that the deceased spouse has (up to the tax exempt amount) to be put into the CST. The CST does not allow the surviving spouse the flexibility of choosing not to fund this trust. The CST is often used by people who have children, who are not of this marriage, or by people who want to protect assets in the event a surviving spouse marries, after the first spouse's death. In short, a CST does not allow as much flexibility as the DT trust.
A DT allows the surviving spouse 9 months after the death of the spouse, to decide whether to create the tax exempt trust and how much to put into it. The surviving spouse has the opportunity to see what assets are available and what the estate tax rules are before deciding whether to create the trust and how much to put into it. There is a period of time, between the death of the first spouse and the time a decision is made about setting up the disclaimer trust, when ownership and control of assets cannot be transferred to the surviving spouse. Once the decision is made about whether to create the disclaimer trust, assets are available to the surviving spouse. You can find additional information about trusts on the Oregon State Bar link here.