These are some of the post-death planning and estate and trust administration services that we provide:
Funding of Trusts
When one spouse of a married couple dies, there may be tax benefits to be derived from the funding of the “A-B” (Survivor’s and Exemption) Trusts under the Living Trust. This work is of critical importance to your beneficiaries and loved ones to save countless Estate Tax and Income Tax dollars down the road. The funding of these trusts may also help further protect the surviving spouse from lawsuits or government claims and help assure that the beneficiaries of the first spouse to die will properly receive their intended inheritance when the surviving spouse dies. Sometimes, in lieu of or in addition to the “A-B” funding, a Federal Estate Tax Return may be filed to elect “portability” of any unused Estate Tax exemption of the deceased spouse.
Federal Estate Tax Return
If you are married with an estate valued over $10 million or single with an estate over $5 million, a Federal Estate Tax Return may be required to be filed and taxes (if any) paid within nine months of the date of death. A Federal Estate Tax Return may also be filed, even for smaller estates, when the first spouse of a married couple dies, to maximize the use of that spouse’s Estate Tax exemption. A State Estate Tax Return may also be required if you own assets outside of Michigan. When we prepare these returns, we don’t just plug in your information and compute the taxes due, we employ legal strategies to help reduce your family’s tax obligation. We have efficiently and effectively prepared these returns for many of our clients over the years.
Trust Termination — Distributions to Beneficiaries — Changing Titles
Quite often, it is a simple and inexpensive matter to properly terminate a Trust and make proper distribution of the Trust assets. Your Trustee will want to come in for a free initial consultation to determine, what, if anything, he or she will need our help with. Most importantly, real estate transfers should not be made to your beneficiaries without the assistance of a Law Firm, otherwise there could be the potential for adverse consequences to your low property tax base status. Your plan may also call for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance through a “Dynasty Trust”, which will need to be established properly in order to maximize its intended asset protection benefits.
We are experienced at assisting with Probate procedures when someone fails to do proper Living Trust planning or doesn’t keep it up to date. (Probate should not normally be necessary if you have a Living Trust fully funded with your assets.) We often can complete Probate within a year or less from the date of death.
Trust Modification or Reformation
Sometimes, changes may be necessary, appropriate or desirable to an irrevocable trust (including a Living Trust after the maker or first spouse dies). We may utilize a special agreement between the trustee and beneficiaries or court procedure to accomplish these important objectives.
Trust & Estate Litigation or Contests
In the event the Trustee, Executor or beneficiaries of an estate or Trust must commence or defend against a legal action to properly interpret or enforce provisions of a Will or Trust, we may provide assistance in handling these court matters or refer you to another outside specialist.
Estate Planning for Beneficiaries
Once an inheritance is received, your beneficiaries will want to protect their assets from lifetime threats (divorce, lawsuits, creditors) as well as from testamentary problems (probate, estate taxes). We are here to assist your “next generation” of loved ones with their estate planning needs, as well.