Estate Question: Distributing the Inheritance

One of the most common concerns people have regarding their estate is how it will be distributed, especially when considering sizeable estates with large values. Among some of the greatest concerns are the underlying questions regarding the estate’s tax burden, avoiding probate and the responsibility of the inheritance recipient(s). Let’s look into each of these points with a few considerations before updating your estate planning documents with Richard Cunningham Law.

Tax Burden

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to estate taxes. With some estates that burden is as much as 40 percent of the total estate value. It goes without saying that when you consider the tax burden of your inheritance, it doesn’t feel good to think of nearly half of it going straight to Uncle Sam. After all, you worked hard to build your legacy, and you’ve paid taxes on it all along the way. Inheritances are not considered income, and aren’t taxed as such unless the funds came from an inherited IRA account.

Two Ways to Avoid Estate Tax

Create An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

A common way people avoid having their life insurance policy from being taxed is to create an irrevocable life insurance trust. In essence, it’s setting up the trust and transferring it to another person. By transferring over your life insurance policy, your death benefits wouldn’t be included in your estate. What makes the trust irrevocable is that it can not be changed without the consent of the beneficiary.

It is important to note that if you die within three years of making the transfer, the benefits from your life insurance policy would still be considered part of your taxable estate.

Fund A Qualified Personal Residence Trust

In this type of trust, as the name suggests, you transfer ownership of your personal residence, which may include your primary residence and/or vacation homes, into a trust. Creating a QPRT offers several benefits. This includes freezing the market value of the residence, immediately reducing the size of your estate.

It is important to note that if you die prior to the trust’s term, your home will still be considered part of your estate. A QPRT is easiest to set up for a rental property.

Avoiding Probate

It is important to make most of the items, especially assets of large value, essentially out of the reach of probate. However, it is nearly impossible to avoid probate completely, even with the most well written wills or well funded trusts. We recommend a detailed asset review to determine the security of your estate. In doing this, we look at each item individually and your estate as a whole.

One of the primary advantages of a trust is to pass property outside of probate court. Property and assets can be passed directly to your named beneficiary. Richard Cunningham Law will make sure that you are well covered, and so is your legacy.

Responsibility of Recipient

Many parents’ biggest concern is how their children will spend their inheritance. Will they spend responsibly? How can I protect them from themselves or others? We don’t want to think of our children as irresponsible, or worse yet, gullible. Yet, it is a fact of life is that even the most responsible people can make costly mistakes. For parents that have seen their children struggle financially, with addiction, or even in relationships, this is a natural fear. If you have these concerns, have an honest conversation with your estate protection attorney. We can discuss ways to distribute your inheritance over time using methods within your estate planning tool kit.

Distribution Provisions for Trusts

When you establish a trust, you will establish provisions for distributing its assets. The distribution provisions to the beneficiaries can offer mandatory and discretionary distributions. Some trusts require all their income to be distributed to an individual beneficiary or a specified group.

An example of the language which may be used to define the limitations of distributions is called the HEMS standard. This language allows the trustee to make distributions for the “Health, Education, Maintenance, and Support” of the trust beneficiaries. Other language may include power to distribute assets for the beneficiaries’ housing or living expenses, wedding and even vacation expenses.

Richard Cunningham Law will help you navigate these issues so your wishes are enacted and your assets and beneficiaries are protected.

The Final Statement

Estate law offers an almost endless number of options for your legacy. Don’t leave anything to chance. Contact Richard Cunningham Law and have a conversation about your estate, and your final wishes. It is our job to help protect your estate for your beneficiaries.

You have questions? We have answers

Avoid the Most Costly Business Mistake of All

Avoiding This Common Mistake At All Costs

Starting a new or home-based business is more common than ever. With an unstable economy and a pandemic shutting down businesses across America, this is a way for people to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams. In previous economies, there was always the promise of your stable career to return to if your venture failed. We can’t count on that safety net today.

It is important than that business owners set up their business correctly. There is one mistake that many small or home office businesses make that costs them big on the back end. That mistake is not hiring the right law firm to draft business agreements and contracts.

Your Business Attorney Discussion

Ideally, you would consult with a business attorney before you invest too much time and money into your new company. However, most people skip this step and move directly into production and sales. Even if you’re already operating it is best to back up and review some of the basics of your business.

Consult with a Business Attorney

You’re likely an expert in how to operate your business and concerning yourself with the legal process may seem daunting and tiresome. But your business attorney will mitigate risks and potential legal ramifications later, allowing you to follow your passions and be successful.

Most people have no idea where to start their discussion with their attorney. Having a clear idea of what you should discuss will save you time and money. Here are some of the questions you should discuss with your business law attorney before (or just after) you start your business.

What’s needed to start my business? This is how you’re going to connect with customers and generate revenues. At a minimum this includes a well defined business plan, financial plan, and legal documents.

What is the best way to structure my business? The selection of a business structure may be based on your business goals, whether or not you have partners and other practical considerations. Each business structure has financial and tax implications. An experienced business attorney helps you understand how federal and state laws apply to your business.

What do I need to know about my industry? It is essential that you comply with your industry’s regulations. This will include the industry-specific laws, regulations, and policies. It’s also crucial to understand education requirements, permits, licensing and other compliance related legalities. Experienced business law attorneys help you navigate through the complex paperwork, permitting process, and licensing without making critical errors that cost you time and money.

Does my business need bylaws or an operating agreement? Creating the proper organizational documents for your business is important. What documents are required depends upon the structure of your business. Corporations require bylaws. Limited liability companies should have operating agreements and partnerships should have partnership agreements. These organizational documents cover important matters regarding the ownership and management of your business. Not only do they provide rules for your business, they help hold everyone accountable. Having the proper documentation helps protect you and your assets from creditors of the business.

What should I consider when choosing my name? The last thing you want to do is incur a law suit because of your name. It may also cause issues down the road if you decide to trademark your name or even sell your business. Having professional guidance can be instrumental in selecting a name for your business.

What do I do to protect my intellectual property? We protect our ideas, secrets, technology, and intellectual property by using patents, trademarks and copyrights. But understanding what you need can be complex and challenging. Your business law attorney can explain the differences between the three, and how they may apply to your business today or in the future.

Consult Your Lawyer First

Protecting your business is essential to it’s survival. Speaking with your attorney first will be paramount in it’s success. Having a great legal team in place will ensure you receive advice on the things that are essential to the formation and operation of your business. This includes those elements many business owners overlook such as selection of business type, hiring contracts, operating agreements, and even protecting your intellectual property. The right business law attorney will become one of your biggest assets. As someone well versed in establishing businesses, your business law attorney can ensure your company is properly protected.

Richard Cunningham Law has extensive experience in helping companies get established, choose the right corporate structure, create documents that protect the company and in helping them protect their intellectual property. If you have a business or wish to start one, contact our offices today.

Still have questions? Schedule a consultation today.