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When protecting inheritance, should you consider a trust?

Some of our readers may have seen previous posts here referencing the many different aspects of a comprehensive estate plan. Of course, most people know that a will is essential, and many know that powers of attorney are also a key component.

However, many people may not know much about trusts. Or, if they do, they think that trusts are used mostly be wealthy people who have a far harder task of tax planning than the average person with an average amount of assets. And, some may not know why a trust should be part of an estate plan at all. A recent article, however, briefly summarized at least one type of trust that may be appealing to certain groups of estate planners.

Specifically, the article summarized what is known as the "QTIP" - qualified terminable interest property trust. This type of trust differs slightly from another common type of trust - the AB living trust. While the AB living trust is commonly used by a couple who want to ensure that their children receive the bulk of their estate with the least amount of taxes owed, the QTIP is commonly used by an estate planner who wants to leave the bulk of their estate to children from a previous relationship - a planner who is on a second marriage, in other words. The QTIP will allow the surviving spouse to receive the income from the assets and principal in the trust each year, but upon that surviving spouse's death the actual remainder of the trust goes to the designated beneficiaries.

When it comes to protecting inheritance, each particular family situation will dictate the exact needs of an estate plan. Getting the details about the options for including a trust, however, can be well worth the time and effort - especially for the beneficiaries.

Source: Penobscot Bay Pilot, "Why put a trust in your will?," Jan. 11, 2013

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