Should you name a trust as a life insurance coverage beneficiary?


Many people question the way they should organize their life insurance beneficiaries in the most effective way. You want to make sure your spouse, partner, kids or any other heirs are very well taken care of. You also want to help them make the most of their benefit.

One method in which people look to minimize the quantity of taxes that'll be taken out of their life insurance payout is by making the primary beneficiary of their life insurance coverage a trust. However, this process isn't always as easy as it seems – and there are a few legal and tax implications to consider prior to making this financial move.

Here's what you ought to consider before naming a trust like a life insurance beneficiary:

Common trusts used as beneficiaries

First, let's review the two different kinds of trusts you can list as the life insurance's primary or contingent beneficiary. An irrevocable trust or perhaps a revocable trust can both be listed your lifetime insurance beneficiary, plus they each come with their own group of benefits and drawbacks. Most young families (including my own) possess a revocable trust. Let's discuss why.

A revocable trust protects assets as the trust-owner (you) ages. You are able to take distributions from the trust until you perish, at which time they're used in the trust's beneficiaries. A revocable trust may also be modified by the owner, where an irrevocable trust can't.

This is a perfect situation for families who want a trust to safeguard their life insurance benefits and reserve them for that cost of taking care of their children, or like a future inheritance for his or her (currently) minor children. The flexibility that the revocable living trust has means that you are able to alter the trust as your wishes or financial needs change – which is perfect for an increasing family.

Tax and financial benefits of trusts

A lot of people are under the impression their life insurance policy's benefit will pass seamlessly for their heirs. Unfortunately, that's not always true.

Life insurance policy payouts typically go to a spouse or partner – and this type of distribution is usually tax-free. However, that's not always the case should you name someone else as a beneficiary of the policy. For instance, if something would happen to both you and your spouse, you might want your money to visit a sibling since they are going to care for your kids. But if your entire estate is going to them, you may encounter three issues:

  1. Your estate may be large enough that you'll owe estate tax on the portion of it.
  2. You have no real treatments for how your life insurance benefit is used once it's willed to them.
  3. Your benefit may enter a probate process – which may be expensive, and delay the delivery of the benefit to your beneficiary.

Even if your sibling is easily the most trustworthy person in the world, it's worthwhile to place some stipulations in place to ensure your children are cared for in the way you would like them to become. A revocable living trust helps to ensure that the funds you need to be employed to care for your kids will go toward them directly over time. You've full control over how your trust pays out and when.

How to create a trust

There really are a couple options for developing a trust. First, an estate planning attorney can establish choice for you. Estate Planning Attorney Rebecca Neale says she generally charges $2,900 to produce a trust.

There may also be expenses associated with changing the title on deeds for property that you would like to transfer towards the trust.

Trust & Will, that is a technology company that offers an online solution for creating a trust or legal, provides an individual trust for $399 or $499 for couples. Through Haven Life Plus, our term life customers get a $129 credit for trust services at Trust & Will if they don't make a web-based will. Learn more about Haven Life Plus.

Pros of listing a trust as the life insurance beneficiary

When you list a trust as your life insurance beneficiary, you're able to maneuver around probate, estate tax (depending on your unique financial situation – make certain you're consulting a CPA), and you're able to control how your wealth can be used, or when it's given to your children.

A trust helps you to sidestep probate

Probate is really a process in which your estate is proven, after which distributed to your heirs. Probate may take quite a long time – also it can be expensive, too. This means that the money you want used to look after your children might be delayed to get to their caregiver. Alternatively, it might have a notable chunk removed from it due to attorney's fees, in order to pay your outstanding debts or taxes. When you are trying to make sure your children are looked after in case of a tragedy – probate is the thing you don't want to have family members cope with.

A trust allows you to control the money flow that's distributed to your kids

If you want a certain amount of cash to visit your kids' care if they are minors, you can adjust the trust to spend to pay for these costs. Then, if you would like them to receive the funds that remain when they turn 18, you may create a stipulation that provides them the rest of your life insurance benefit at that time. The flexibleness here's key for young and growing families since you can adjust the revocable trust in a continuing capacity as the kids get older, as well as your financial needs and wishes change.

Cons of listing a trust as the life insurance coverage beneficiary

Even though revocable living trusts have a large amount of upsides for moms and dads, additionally they have a few key drawbacks that might make them a non-ideal fit for you:

A trust could be pricey to create up

The biggest deterrent that I see people encounter when establishing a revocable living trust may be the cost and time-spend required. Costs may include expenses related to setting up deeds, and documents transferring ownership, as well as legal fees. However, the expense you're incurring now mean that you're saving your heirs the same set-up and transfer costs (as well as the potential costs associated with probate). Funding the trust is also challenging.

Although the costs related to setting up a revocable living trust are relatively easy to stomach, particularly when you realize it is going to benefit your kids someday, some people still struggle to spare the time to undergo the procedure. As an entrepreneur, and a busy mom of two, I completely understand feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day.

A trust demands that you have additional estate planning pieces in place

You need a will to set up a trust. Keep in mind that heirs can contest a trust for over a traditional will (statutes usually range from 1 to five years depending on where you reside).

All that said – setting up your estate plan is an essential to-do list item. Many people overestimate how long they'll have to spend getting all things in place. Partnering by having an estate planning attorney along with a CPA can help to try taking some from the admin work from your plate, and be sure that everything gets done properly. The financial and time investment required will probably be worth the reassurance you'll get understanding that your kids will always be looked after, even when they lose you and your partner.

Should a trust be considered a primary or perhaps a contingent beneficiary?

Personally, I've named my husband as the primary beneficiary of my life insurance plan. Our revocable trust is known as because the contingent beneficiary. This way, should something occur to both of us, my life insurance policy would go to a trust for the two kids.

Typically, I recommend other families setup their estate plan similarly, but it's also worth mentioning that i am not a CPA or perhaps an estate planning attorney. This is a consideration that you ought to bring up for your financial team to ensure naming a revocable trust as a primary beneficiary or perhaps a contingent beneficiary on your life insurance coverage meets your family's unique needs.

Is a trust beneficiary best for you?

Typically, using a spouse listed like a beneficiary in your life insurance policy is easily the most common choice. When a benefit would go to your partner in a lump sum after you perish, it's usually exempt from estate and income tax.

However, if you would like your life insurance policy to visit straight to the care (and future inheritance) of your minor children, having a trust listed as your life insurance beneficiary might make the most sense. Talking to a trusted estate planning attorney along with a financial planner can help you to develop a beneficiary strategy which makes sense for you now, whilst passing on as much of your estate as possible for your heirs.