2018: The estate tax exemption was set at 11.18M per person and is adjusted annually for inflation. Amounts exempt from estate tax are set forth below. The maximum estate tax rate is now 40%. For a husband and wife, the exemption can effectively be doubled with proper planning.
In the event both parents die in a common disaster, a trust can be used to create a vehicle to manage assets for children until they finish their education and/or reach a specified age, e.g. 25.
Provide income and assets for the spouse of a second marriage while insuring that assets pass only to children of a prior marriage or other heirs.
Maximize options and income tax deferral by proper beneficiary designations for IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans.
Provide increased income and receive income and estate tax deductions while still benefiting your favorite charity.
The Living Trust, also known as a revocable trust, is recognized by the laws of all 50 states. This allows a trust to avoid probate and to transfer assets to beneficiaries quickly and efficiently. It is a separate legal entity capable of owning and transferring property. During the life of the creator, the trust is completely amendable and revocable. Upon death, property is held and distributed in accordance with the terms of the trust.
Separate tax returns are not required. Lifetime administration of the trust is simple. The creator of the trust may act as trustee and manage assets with the assistance of a financial consultant, trust company, or other investment advisor.
A trust does not eliminate the need for a will. The will is the document used to name a guardian for minor children. Otherwise, the will, known as a "pour over" will, simply names the trust as the sole beneficiary upon death. Assets are then held and/or distributed in accordance with the terms of the trust.
Authority given to an agent to sign documents and otherwise handle legal and related matters if you become unable to do so.
Authority given to an agent to make healthcare decisions for you should you become unable to make those decisions yourself. A living will states to what extent life saving measures are to be used in the event of terminal illness or injury.
* adjusted annually for inflation
** New Hampshire has no state estate tax