What is a Survivor's Trust?

A married couple establishes a joint trust with each contributing their share of their joint or community property (if any) and their own separate property to the trust.  What happens to the property in the trust when the first spouse dies?

As a general rule, the surviving spouse’s share (i.e., their own separate property and one-half share of the joint or community property) simply transforms into the so-called Survivor’s Trust.  As the name implies, this is the property that belongs to the survivor.  The surviving spouse can continue to make changes to this portion of trust, including changing the beneficiaries etc., just like both spouses could during their joint lives.

The planning occurs when, while both spouses are alive, the couple decides what amounts are to be allocated to the survivor when the first one passes away.  It might be that each wants the survivor to have full control of the estate at that time (i.e. control of the survivor’s and the deceased spouse’s share).  How these allocations are made can impact taxes and how the property will ultimately be distributed.

An experienced estate planner can review and analyze these choices with the couple to ensure the plan meets the client’s needs and wishes.

Greatest Gift

The best and most appreciated gift that you can give your family may not be wealth or treasure, but the comfort and peace of mind that comes with knowing they have followed your wishes.

Estate Planning is not just about taxes and the transfer of property.  It also encompasses making a contract with your helpers to follow when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. This not only includes your wishes for after you are gone, but planning for disability or incapacity, as well.

As you might imagine, it is of great comfort for your family and other helpers to know that they are doing what you wanted.

This peace of mind might be the greatest gift of all.

Change the Road You're On

I've been in a nostalgic mood recently and have been listening to the music of my youth: Springsteen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc.

The other day I was listening to "Stairway to Heaven" and heard these lyrics:

"...there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on."

Strange, I know, but this got me thinking about Estate Planning.  When we plan, we take control and change the road we are currently on to the road we know we should follow.

It's not too late to plan and change the road you're on.

Treasure Hunt

I love puzzles, especially math or word problems.  I love the challenge and the good feeling I get when I solve a puzzle.

I am lucky.  My profession as an Estate Planner allows me to solve puzzles every day. Once I know my client's story and finances, together we go a hunt to find those planning opportunities.

It gives me great pleasure to educate my clients about opportunities that they did not know existed before we met.

Talk about a satisfying result to solving a puzzle.