Trusts are the Swiss Army Knife of estate planning, perfect tools for specific directions on how your assets should be managed while you are living and after you have passed. A recent article titled “This Trust Can Help You Create a Financial Dynasty” from yahoo! finance explains how qualified perpetual trusts (also known as dynasty trusts) can offer more control over assets than other types of trusts.
What is a Dynasty Trust?
Called a Qualified Perpetual Trust or a Dynasty Trust, this trust is designed to let the grantor pass assets along to beneficiaries in perpetuity. Technically speaking, a dynasty trust could last for a century. They don’t end until several years after the death of the last surviving beneficiary.
Why Would You Want a Trust to Last 100 Years?
Perpetual trusts are often used to keep family wealth out of probate for a long time. During probate, the court reviews the will, approves the executor and reviews an inventory of assets. Probate can be time consuming and costly. the will and all the information it contains becomes part of the public record, meaning that anyone can find out all about your wealth.
A trust is created by an experienced estate planning attorney. Assets are then transferred into the trust and beneficiaries are named. There should be at least one beneficiary and a secondary beneficiary, in case the first beneficiary predeceases the second. A trustee is named to oversee the assets. The language of the trust is where you set the terms for when and how assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries.
Directions for the trust can be as specific as you wish. Terms may be set requiring certain goals, stages of life, or ages for beneficiaries to receive assets. This amount of control is part of the appeal of trusts. You can also set terms for when beneficiaries are not to receive anything from the trust.
Let’s say you have two adult children in their 30s. You could set a condition for them to receive monthly payments from trust earnings and nothing from the principal during their lifetimes. The next generation, your grandchildren, can be directed to receive only earnings as well, further preserving the trust principal and ensuring its future for generations to come.
Dynasty trusts are irrevocable, meaning that once assets are transferred, the transfer is permanent. Be certain that any assets going into the trust won’t be needed in the short or long run.
Be mindful if you chose to leave assets directly to grandchildren, skipping one generation, you risk the Generation Skipping Tax. There is no GST with a dynasty trust.
Assets in a trust are still subject to income tax, if they generate income. If you transfer assets creating little or no income, you can minimize this tax.
Not all states allow qualified perpetual trusts, while other states have used perpetual trusts to create a cottage industry for trusts. Your estate planning attorney will be able to advise the best perpetual trust for your situation.