What is a trust?
Trusts are created to hold an owner’s assets. Properly structured, a Las Vegas trust will take into account the debts, income, taxes and all the other issues that are addressed in the probate process with a Last Will and Testament. A Nevada Trust can be a vehicle to eliminate the need for the estate probate process and can hold a portion or the entirety of an owner’s assets, either business or personal.
An estate is the total of all assets owned by an individual. The estate’s assets can be placed into a Trust using a Trust document, which governs the final settlement of the income, property, taxes and transferal of ownership of the Estate Trust during the lifetime of the Trust creator, and continuing after the death of the creator. The Trust creator, the owner of the estate’s assets placed into the Trust, is also known as the Grantor, Owner, Donor, Settlor or Founder of the Trust.
The Trust created to hold the estate owner’s assets will take into account the debts, income, taxes and all the other issues that are addressed in the probate process with a Will. In particular cases where the value of the estate is large, or there is substantial real property involved, the creation of a Estate Trust can greatly reduce the risks and expense of challenges brought by creditors or disgruntled family members who feel they did not get their “fair share” of the Estate.
Additionally, when the documentation creating the Trust Estate is properly executed and administered, the likelihood of the Estate Trust being “broken” or invalidated by creditors or others is greatly reduced. Since all the debts, taxes and inheritance wishes of the founder regarding their estate is done prior to their death or incapacity, the likelihood of successful challenges to the validity of the Trust is minimized.
An Estate Trust can also be used for the transferal of ownership of specifically designated assets, and a will can be created to address the disposition of other issues including taxes, creditors, and other beneficiaries.
Types of Trusts
Some of the most common types of Nevada Trusts used for asset protection are Nevada Spendthrift Trusts, Domestic Asset Protection Trusts, Nevada Asset Protection Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, and Offshore Trusts, but many other types of trusts exist as well. The creation of a trust takes into account many diverse factors including the owner’s age, net worth, desired transferal of future ownership, as well as tax and debt considerations.
What are the benefits of creating a Trust?
One of the key features of an asset protection Trust is that it separates the benefits and enjoyment of Trust assets from the actual ownership of the Trust assets. In this way, the future inheritors may minimize tax responsibility to enjoy the benefits of the assets held in the Trust, while at the same time protecting those assets from the creditors of the beneficiaries.
One of the several advantages of creating a Estate Trust, as contrasted with a Testate (Will) or Intestate (no Will), is that a Estate Trust can avoid the often lengthy and expensive Probate process altogether. Additionally, ownership, control and tax advantages can be gained by creating the Trust prior to death. For example, the Estate Trust owner may continue to receive income and other benefits from the Trust during their lifetime, but after the Estate Trust owner’s death, the Estate can pass to heirs or beneficiaries designated in the Trust document without the complications and expense of probate.
Drawbacks of an Estate Trust
Trusts are typically subject to the laws of the jurisdiction specified by the Trust owner or founder. However, a number of exceptions and issues of conflicting law may arise regarding real property or other legal obligations, in a jurisdiction separate from the residence of the Trust founder. Consequently, a number of constitutional and inter-jurisdictional issues must be considered when creating a Trust. Some of these issues may relate to divorce, child support, tax liabilities, real estate holdings, bankruptcy, non-US citizens or creditors, and the enforcement of court judgments from jurisdictions other than that designated by the Trust founder in the Trust creation documents.
As a result of these and other potential issues, which vary by individual circumstances, an asset protection Trust may not provide specific tax advantages over other possible arrangements, but should provide a lower-cost method of transferring Trust assets from the current owner to designated beneficiaries in the future compared to the use of a Will.
Estate Trust Attorney
Selecting the appropriate type of asset protection strategy, vehicle, and Trust should be done in consultation with an asset protection attorney that will evaluate all the tax, legal, jurisdictional and individual circumstances relevant to protect and transfer ownership of assets from the owner to their designated heirs or beneficiaries. Additionally, recent and ongoing changes to state, federal, international law as well as relevant court rulings are all very important to the successful protection and transferal of asset protection trusts.
Contact Smith & Shapiro at one of our two convenient locations in Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. We are open from 8:00am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday.