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Articles Tagged with trusts

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A qualified personal residence trust (QPRT) offers an opportunity for homeowners to minimize or avoid federal and New Jersey estate taxes. A QPRT allows a homeowner to transfer ownership of a primary or vacation home to a “grantor trust,” while keeping the right to live there for a specified period of time. When that specified time ends, ownership passes outright to the homeowner’s children or whoever is named as the remainder beneficiaries.

When you transfer your home into a QPRT, you make a gift to the beneficiaries which is subject to gift tax. The value of that taxable gift is not the full fair market value of the home, as it would be with an outright transfer. The value is discounted. In the current real estate market values are quite low, adding to the benefit of the QPRT. The gift is also discounted to reflect that you have retained an interest (the right to live in the home for the specified term). Internal Revenue Service tables and current interest rates are used to determine the amount of the discount. The federal gift tax exemption is currently $5,120,000.00 and you can utilize a portion of that exemption and pay no gift tax. As New Jersey does not have a gift tax, you can transfer the home without incurring any New Jersey gift tax.
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The short answer is yes. Your will ensures that:
• your assets are given to those whom you want to receive them;
• you can control the way in the which your assets are distributed (for example, establishing a trust for the protection of a beneficiary, and designating the trustees);
• the guardians you choose will be entrusted with raising your children;
• your estate will be administered by someone you trust;
• your estate will not be reduced by the cost of an administration bond; and • estate taxes are minimized.

In your will, you choose who will receive your assets (beneficiaries) and what they will receive (bequests). If you do not have a will, your estate will pass through the laws of intestacy. Many people believe the laws of intestacy will align with their wishes for distribution of their estate. However, many times that is not the case. For example, if you are married, have no children, and do not have a will, people assume that the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate. However, under New Jersey intestacy law , your surviving spouse is entitled to the first twenty five percent of your estate (not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000) and seventy five percent of the remaining portion. The balance will go to your parents. So, for example, if you have a $1,000,000 estate your surviving spouse will receive a total of $800,000 and your parents would receive $200,000. In another example of unintended consequences in intestacy, if you have no living relatives and no will, your entire estate will be given to the State of New Jersey. There are many other scenarios under the laws of intestacy which would distribute your property in ways that you may not intend. Having a will ensures that your estate is distributed to people or charities that you have chosen.

Without a will, your assets are distributed under the laws of intestacy directly to the people designated by New Jersey law. In some circumstances, it may be wise to put the money in a trust for some of your beneficiaries so that you can direct when and for what purposes the money will be distributed. This is particularly useful if there are potential beneficiaries with special needs whose governmental benefits need to be protected.

A will designates your children’s guardians – a will is the only way to appoint guardians. This is an important choice. You should discuss this choice with the people you choose beforehand because you will be placing a great responsibility upon them.

You will also select executors and trustees. Executors are responsible for probating your will, paying expenses, and collecting and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. Trustees manage assets placed in trust for designated beneficiaries. By New Jersey law, if there is no will, or a will that does not waive the bond, fiduciaries (such as executors and trustees) must post a bond with the surrogate’s court. The cost of the bond varies with the value of the estate’s assets, and can become very costly. To ensure that your assets are not diminished by the bonding requirement, you can waive it in your will.
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