Estate Planning Seminar at Pleasant Grove Library

I’ll be presenting a seminar on DIY — Do It Yourself — Estate Planning at the Pleasant Grove Library on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 7 PM. Come an enjoy the discussion. The address is 30 E Center St, Pleasant Grove.

If you have a question about wills, trusts, and other aspects of estate planning, maybe I can answer it.

How One Family’s Legacy is an Example to Your Family

So by now, you probably know that the Larry and Gail Miller family insured that the Utah Jazz would forever be the Utah Jazz--musical Mormon jokes aside (by the way ever heard of BYU’s Synthesis?). They did so via a so-called dynasty or legacy trust, a trust intended to live on and on and on, well beyond the lifetimes of the Millers and their children and even their grandchildren.

I intend to write more on this subject, but for now think about what financial legacy would you like to leave your family, your city, your school? A well-drafted trust will allow you to do that.


Two-Year-Old Granddaughters and Estate Planning

My entire immediate family was in town for the last five days. My three children, my son-in-law, and my one grandchild–a two-year-old girl with lots to say and not enough words to say it.

Now actually, what I just wrote is true and not true at the same time. What I just described is that part of my immediate family that has my blood flowing through its veins (no, my son-in-law, doesn’t, but you get my point). I also have four sons by marriage, three daughters-in-law, and four more grandchildren, plus two very much on the way. I love them all and treat them as my own. That part of my family–colloquially known as my stepfamily–presents estate planning issues, issues I’ve discussed elsewhere and which I’ll return to in the future.

But today it’s that two-year old. She’s sparked some thoughts on the nature of estate planning. Sure it’s about the immediate future. I want my wife taken care of should I die. I want to pass something on to my children. I was to avoid taxes if possible. And on and on. But what about the two-year old? What do I do about her, if anything?

My daughter, her mother, turns 40 a month from tomorrow. Forty years old. Her little girl won’t be 40 for 38 more years. Will my estate plan be durable and well-thought-out enough to have an impact on her life? I most likely won’t be around then to make it happen. So what can I do?

Two thoughts come to mind: trusts and life insurance. Both tools have more permanence than I do. If set up and funded properly, both can be there when I can’t to make sure my hopes and dreams for my granddaughter are fulfilled. Yes, I could rely on her parents–and I might–but if I absolutely, positively want my hopes for her fulfilled, trusts and life insurance are the tools of choice.

How are you going to insure that your dreams for your family come true?

Trust Protectors: They Can Come In Handy When Your (Trust) Intentions are in a Pinch

What do I mean by “pinch”? Well, let’s say that you’ve created a trust, with yourself as the initial trustee. You know what you want to do with your trust, who you want to benefit, what you what to happen and what you don’t want to happen–that drug addled nephew, for example doesn’t get anything until he shapes up.

You’ve got big plans, and you think you’ve made your intentions clear, both in the trust and to the person or persons who will succeed you as trustee should you die or become incapacitated.

And then you die. And your successor trustee takes over. And as time moves on and one, your trustee begins to deviate from the path you clearly explained to him years ago. And he does this some more and some more, until he’s way off the path that leads to the fulfillment of your dreams for your beneficiaries. What do do?

Well, you could come back as a ghost and scare him straight, but that’s a long shot, right? Or your beneficiaries could all get together and petition the court to remove the trustee, but that can be a long, drawn-out, expensive, and often futile process. Though more receptive to the idea of modifying a trust or removing a trustee, courts have been and still can be reluctant to do so.

IMG_1996Enter the trust protector–that is, if you named a trust protector in your trust document. What’s trust protector, you ask? According to Lawrence A. Frolick, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, trust protectors

are best conceived as a means for a settlor [or grantor or trust maker] to attempt to ensure that the intent behind the establishment of the trust remains fulfilled in the future. Settlors [grantors, trust makers] appoint a protector to create and alter-ego who can supervise the trust and act to ensure that the purpose of the trust, as envisioned by the settlor [grantor, trust maker] is carried out even if the trustee must be replaced or the terms of the trust must be modified. The settlor [grantor, trust maker] by appointing a protector, overcomes the judicial reluctance to modify trusts . . . (Trust Protectors: Why They Have Become “The Next Bit Thing,” Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, pg. 268-269, 50:2, Fall 2015; see here for an abstract of the article)

Now, trust protectors aren’t necessary for every trust, especially those that will close their doors once the grantor’s children reach an age appropriate to receive their final distributions free of trust–if that’s the grantor’s plan. However, for those of you who want their trust and their trustee to carry out their intentions for years and years into the future, a trust protector makes all kinds of sense. Think of it: A trustee, even the best trustee, will probably do a better job if she knows someone with the power to remove her will continue to be looking over her shoulder for years to come.

Not a bad idea.

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