Trusts

photo of beneficiary checks from trust payout

What the heck is a “trust” and why should I care? Good questions. The answers may save you money, time, and headaches. Plus, setting up these documents may greatly improve life for you, your family, and those who will inherit from you.

To help you understand, we’ve provided a quick and easy overview below for a variety of trusts. Let’s start with a few basic trust terms  and definitions–

Trust Terms & Definitions

  • Trustee: The person designated in the Trust Agreement to take possession of the trust assets and manage those assets. He must also preserve and manage the assets according to the provisions in the Trust agreement.
  • Trust Agreement: The Trust Agreement is the document that creates the Trust and sets out the provisions related to the Trust. For instance, it will generally designate the trustee, the beneficiaries, and the purposes of the Trust. It will also typically include provisions designed to guide the trustee in fulfilling his duties.
  • Grantor: The person(s) who creates the Trust Agreement. In order for the Grantor to create a valid trust, he must designate a trustee and a beneficiary. He must also transfer assets into the Trust.
  • Beneficiary: The Trust Beneficiary is the person(s) who receives the benefit of the assets in the Trust.

Types of Trusts – Overview

Testamentary Trusts 

  • The concepts of wills and trusts combine when you consider the creation of a Testamentary Trust.
  • These trusts are created under your will and control the management of your assets after your death.
  • These trusts have a wide array of uses, but they are very often used to provide for the management of assets for minors and young children in the event they might become entitled to receive property under a will.

Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts help enhance the life of your special needs child and your own life. This tool is also essential in helping protect your child’s qualification for government benefits. Because these documents are complex, we encourage you to check out our Special Needs Trust information summary for more information.

Miller Trusts

In Texas, if your income is more than the monthly amount Medicaid permits, special rules allow you to re-direct your income to a legal tool called a Miller Trust or Qualified Income Trust (QIT).  This legal planning document allows you to meet income eligibility rules for Medicaid nursing home benefits.  If you don’t set up this type of trust,  your income cannot be more $2,250 per month in order to meet Medicaid’s 2018 eligibility requirements. This type of trust offers many benefits–check out our separate summary on Miller Trusts to learn more. 

Third Party Trusts

We answer questions about Third Party Trusts in relation to qualifying for Medicaid payment for nursing home care. Learn more about Third Party Trusts and how this legal tool may affect eligibility for government benefits in our separate summary. 

Revocable Living Trusts 

  • In recent years, the use of Revocable Living Trusts as a substitute for traditional estate planning has exploded in many states.
  • In Texas, however, these trusts as effective estate planning alternatives have limited usefulness.

Educational Trusts 

  • One of the primary concerns that many parents and grandparents have is setting aside money to provide for education for their children and grandchildren.
  • In spite of this desire, those same parents and grandparents recognize that the best interests of their children is not served by giving large sums of money to minors or young adults who might rather buy a car than pay for an education.
  • As a result, the use of an Educational Trust becomes a very appropriate option for providing money for education while making sure the money is used appropriately.

Spendthrift Trusts 

  • Another concern of people creating trusts is that they want the assets of the trust to be protected from the attacks of potential creditors of either the Grantors or the Beneficiaries of the Trust.
  • Spendthrift provisions can be incorporated into a Trust, which will then protect the trust assets from attack.

Crummey Trusts 

  • People making gifts into Trusts generally make those gifts for a variety of reasons.
  • However, regardless of the reason, they do not want to give up their money and pay gift taxes on top of giving away their money.
  • The Crummey trust provisions make it possible to make gifts to a trust while excluding some portion or all of the gift from potential gift tax complications.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts 

  • Life insurance policies can very often present estate tax problems for the person who owns the policy.
  • To combat the estate tax complications, the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust provides an alternative to own a life insurance policy while completely excluding the proceeds from the estate for tax purposes.