JANUARY 4, 2016 VOLUME 23 NUMBER 1
Note the “Volume” number above. Is it even possible that we’ve been doing this for 23 years?
In that time, a number of topics have been perennially popular. We see a lot of internet traffic, and get a lot of questions or comments, when we write about:
- EINs for trusts. Does your living trust need a tax identification number (spoiler alert: no)? What about your mother’s trust, after her death? And how about your mother’s trust once you take it over because she has become incapacitated? How many variations on these basic questions can you imagine?
- Retirement accounts (usually IRAs and 401(k)s) and trusts. Can you name your trust as beneficiary for your IRA? If you can, should you? What about all those people (your banker, your stockbroker, maybe even your accountant) who tell you it’s a huge mistake — are they wrong? And what if your child receives government benefits?
- Simple estate planning. Can’t I just sign a simple will? Better yet — can’t I just put my child’s name on all my accounts, and my home title? Wouldn’t that save a lot of money on legal fees and, ultimately, probate?
- Beneficiary deeds. These probate-avoidance devices are not available in every state, but they have been around in Arizona for quite a few years. We have a lot of continuing interest in how to create a beneficiary deed — but we think the much better question is whether/when to sign a beneficiary deed.
- Guardianship and conservatorship. Much of the public interest in this area — a significant part of our practice at Fleming & Curti, PLC — is about cost of the proceedings. That’s understandable, but we also want to emphasize the alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship.
- Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts. These statutory substitutes for real trusts are popular, but the interest in our articles about them suggests that there are lots of problems with enforcing the terms of UTMA accounts.
- Special needs trusts. At Fleming & Curti, PLC, we work with special needs trusts all the time. We have written about taxation of special needs trusts, whether established with the beneficiary’s funds or with funds from other family members or loved ones. We have also written about management of both kinds of special needs trusts, and problems that have arisen in individual instances.
Of all those topics (we now have an archive of well over a thousand weekly newsletter articles), which is our favorite? That’s easy: the one you read, gain something from, and have a follow-up question about.
So what’s your question? We won’t try to give individualized legal advice, but maybe we can help you with a relevant legal principle, or perhaps we can elucidate some of your alternatives. We will often tell you that the right answer is “consult an attorney,” but maybe you can get to the attorney’s office as a better-informed client.
Oh, and Happy New Year.