Please outlive me. That’s how many spouses feel: they’d rather not be the one left behind. Since we just never know what our next chapters of life hold, estate planning is important—and marital trusts can be a helpful tool. Marital trusts can’t cure grief or loneliness, but they can ensure funds are protected and available for the surviving spouse.
Spouse to Spouse
A basic last will and testament goes a long way toward leaving our affairs in order for loved ones. Because some life circumstances make trusts important considerations in estate planning, it’s good to understand the fundamentals and options for setting up a trust. Essentially, as the Times Herold-Record explains: “Trusts are legal entities that own assets, and all trusts are not alike.They are created by a written trust document with certain provisions that can vary from trust to trust. However, every trust has a “grantor” who creates the trust, a “trustee” who manages trust assets, and “beneficiaries” who receive trust income or assets.” Forbes points out that a marital trust can be useful when the specific goal is to ensure assets are speedily and directly available to the surviving spouse:
A marital trust is an irrevocable trust that lets you transfer a deceased spouse’s assets to the surviving spouse without incurring any taxes. The trust also protects assets from creditors and future spouses the surviving spouse may encounter.Additionally, when the surviving spouse dies, the assets in the trust are not included as part of their estate—which will keep the taxes on their estate lower.
When a marital trust is established, the assets (aka principal) placed in it can be investments. Income can then be generated over time for the surviving spouse. Legal experts at Kyle E. Krull note these additional reasons why a marital trust might be helpful in estate planning:
Although other trusts allow for more options for beneficiaries, the spouse must be the sole beneficiary of a marital trust. After the surviving spouse dies, the trust will be passed according to the wishes of the first spouse who died. This allows a couple to ensure money remains in the family and is a popular estate planning technique for blended families.
Trustees and Trustee Bonds
Grappling with death, financial decision making and unplanned circumstances can present difficult challenges—even in families that may think they are immune to conflict. That’s why when setting up a trust, it’s important to put care and thought into designating the trustee who will oversee it. This list of trustee duties summarizes the kinds of tasks a trustee must be prepared to perform. Use it to consider the skills and qualities a trustee should have before naming a trustee. Whether you ultimately choose a relative, friend or professional, be sure they understand the commitment involved. It’s not an honorary title. In fact, your designated trustee will have fiduciary obligations to the beneficiaries, and must always exercise reasonable care and skill in managing the trust. Accordingly, a type of fiduciary bond known as a trustee bond is often required to protect the interests of the trust and its beneficiaries in accordance with applicable state law.
Essentially, trustee bonds, guarantee the faithful performance of the appointed trustee. As a leading national bond provide, Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to obtain a trustee bond. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the law office or court.
Good To Know
Absent a trust or will that names beneficiaries, intestate succession laws in each state ultimately determine the distribution of assets upon death. Experts point out that since intestate succession laws date back to the 1950s, they do not generally account for modern and blended family structures, making it extra important for “nontraditional” families to be proactive with estate planning. Either a will or trust will ensure the intestate succession laws are not needed. Learn more about the differences between wills and trusts here.
Estate Law and Bonds?
No matter what sensitive family matters require careful attention during estate planning, Colonial Surety makes it easy for family members—and their lawyers—to secure the necessary bonds. Our online service makes it easy and speedy for anyone and everyone to obtain a quote, make the purchase and then instantly print or e-file needed court bonds. Special issues? Specific obligee requirements? No problem—our knowledgeable staff is at the ready.
Colonial’s fiduciary bond portfolio includes: guardian, conservator, trustee, administrator, estate, executor, personal representative, probate, surrogate, and more. We also have a full array of court bonds, including appeal, injunction, replevin—and many others.
For extra speed and convenience, lawyers can use The Partnership Account® for Attorneys. Log in anytime, from anywhere, access our complete portfolio of bonds, get a quote, forward it to your client for payment, and then download and file the bond on the spot. Go ahead, obtain digital bonds from your mobile and e-file before leaving court (or the zoom room).
Colonial Surety is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.
Trust Colonial. We’re here to help: www.colonialsurety.com.