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Why do my neighbors have their home in Trusts?
Old 08-30-2007, 07:25 PM   #1
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Why do my neighbors have their home in Trusts?

I was looking at property tax and valuations on my County website and noticed that numerous neighbors have their homes owned by "John Smith Trust" for example instead of simply John Smith. Is there a tax advantage to this or is this used for inheritance purposes?
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:01 PM   #2
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It is placed in the trust for estate planning (inheritance purpose). No property tax advantage.
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:11 PM   #3
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Agree. It avoids probate.
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:20 PM   #4
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Yep. We used to have our house in the trust, but I think it had to be taken out in order to get a HELOC. The lender didn't like it in a trust for that.

Dan
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Old 08-30-2007, 10:48 PM   #5
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We have our house in a trust because we have properties in two states and don't want to go through probate in both.
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Old 08-30-2007, 11:18 PM   #6
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Agree. It avoids probate.
OK dumb question...why would one want to "avoid probate"? I've never inherited anything(and likely never will) so I don't know anything about the process, is it a costly process or is there some other reason to avoid it? If you either go thru probate, or avoid it, and you end up at the same place...does it really matter?

Related question: If someone dies, is the division of assets/will public? If not how would anyone know if they got what they were supposed to? How would someone who didn't even know they were named in a will if a crooked executor didn't tell them and simply kept the assets for themselves or gave them to the wrong person?
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Old 08-30-2007, 11:39 PM   #7
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OK dumb question...why would one want to "avoid probate"? I've never inherited anything(and likely never will) so I don't know anything about the process, is it a costly process or is there some other reason to avoid it? If you either go thru probate, or avoid it, and you end up at the same place...does it really matter?

Related question: If someone dies, is the division of assets/will public? If not how would anyone know if they got what they were supposed to? How would someone who didn't even know they were named in a will if a crooked executor didn't tell them and simply kept the assets for themselves or gave them to the wrong person?

Avoiding probate saves money and saves hassles. I dislike hassles, I hate wasting money.

You choose the executor - why pick one you can not trust?
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farmerEd View Post
OK dumb question...why would one want to "avoid probate"? I've never inherited anything(and likely never will) so I don't know anything about the process, is it a costly process or is there some other reason to avoid it? If you either go thru probate, or avoid it, and you end up at the same place...does it really matter?
1. Probate costs money, in some cases 4-6% of the size of the estate. Trusts are handled by the trustees, which in most cases are the spouses, and there's no executor (or trustee) fees.
2. Probate's public-- the will is recorded for anyone to examine.*
3. A trust allows the trustee to handle the assets if another trustee is indisposed. So if your spouse is in a coma (or suffering from Alzheimer's) then as a trustee you can still sell the house or otherwise deal with the trust property. This can also be handled by powers of attorney but many agencies refuse to deal with POAs that aren't on their form with their verbiage. A trust provides fewer loopholes for them to wiggle through.

* It really pisses me off that the state of Hawaii records our home mortgage and thus makes that document a matter of public record. "Mortgage companies" from all over the state and the Mainland pelt us with offers to refinance our mortgage, and they're getting our name/address from the public records. Now imagine if a recorded will listed FarmerEd as the beneficiary of a multi-million estate.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:47 AM   #9
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I am not a lawyer, but my research has shown a number of possibilities where trusts can be used effectively. They can also be a bad decision if employed for the wrong purposes or not thought through and crafted properly.

They can bypass a generation.

Irrevocable trusts. Could be used to shield the assets from the state (think Medicaid) or other entities.

A trust can control (describe rules and terms after death) the assets.

A summary.

Trust law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 08-31-2007, 06:13 AM   #10
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You choose the executor - why pick one you can not trust?
Money does funny things to people, but Nords answered it - the wills are public if they go thru probate, so that solves the problem. If they weren't it would seem rife with problems and a big potential for abuse.

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* It really pisses me off that the state of Hawaii records our home mortgage and thus makes that document a matter of public record.
Mortgage docs are public here in Mass to - probably in all states. You can even sit at the comfort of your computer and lookup/download to your heart is content - for free via the internet. http://www.MassLandRecords.com
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:13 AM   #11
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In some states it makes a lot of sense to avoid probate. In those states fees may be very high and the process very slow. Florida and California are examples I have seen mentioned frequently.

In other states probate really isn't that big of a deal. It is cheap, fees are not based on assets, and the process is relatively fast. In my home state of Minnesota there is no particular reason to avoid probate. The cost of probate is cheaper than moving all your assets into a trust or joint tenancy. True, court files are public record but who is going to be poking around to see what your probate file looks like?
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:11 PM   #12
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with the right legal help you can make yourself look poor and qualify for medicaid and all kinds of other public assistance programs without having the government take your home after you die
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:33 PM   #13
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Now imagine if a recorded will listed FarmerEd as the beneficiary of a multi-million estate.
i only got hit on by one person utilizing death records to try and sell the inherited house for me. i called the s-o-b in person and screamed bloody murder at him.
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:41 PM   #14
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All the legal help in the world won't really help you structure your assets to qualify for medicaid. The most recent changes to the medicaid program in 2006 make it extremely difficult to take advantage of "timely" transfers or annuities that were used in prior years to "qualify" people for medicaid. And dropping your assets in a trust does not really help you qualify for medicaid and perhaps other government assistance programs.
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:46 PM   #15
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There are two major advantages to a trust IMHO:

1) Contingent trustees can act in the trust's behalf should the grantor/s become unable to do so. This is particularly useful for assets such as bank and investment accounts. Even when a home is in a trust the title insurance folks may make the trustees jump through a couple hoops if the grantor/s are unable to sign. Haven't had to deal with that as Mom sold her home after Dad passed, they were both grantors of their trust.

2) Nosy people, presumptive (on their part) heirs, have no status when it comes to demanding an accounting of assets in the trust.
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Old 08-31-2007, 04:22 PM   #16
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The main reason I liked the trust was to preserve the estate tax exemptions of the first spouse to die. After 2010 or so that will be important for us. You can effectively double the estate tax exemption you would get by doing nothing. Plus it looks much easier for the survivors, both spouse and kids. My Mom had very little trouble when Dad died.

Dan
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:07 PM   #17
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My former advisor sold me a trust when I had a couple of hundred thousand in assets and no dependents. He sold me another one after I was married. Shortly after that he retired at age 50. The trusts were all boiler plate so I doubt they were worth the $800-$1000 fee. Due to my experience, I rank trusts with whole life insurance and variable annuities. Wills and Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship (JTWROS) on our assets seems to cover our financial territory since we have no kids.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:30 PM   #18
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A trust should be created by an attorney, not a financial advisor. They need to reflect your PERSONAL goals and needs and be a part of your estate planning. The problem isn't the trust(s) but the person you entrusted.
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Old 09-01-2007, 09:26 AM   #19
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I am enjoying this thread.

I have a couple of questions along similar lines that possibly others here (as many of us have accumulated, or are in the midst of accumulating, a decent nest egg) have thought about.

Does anyone know of ways to legally arrange your financial affairs (including pension, investments, home, etc.) to:
  • still maintain control
  • maximize your Safe Withdrawal Rate
  • reduce or avoid federal/state taxes
  • strategize/plan for the eventual 'means testing' that many of us think will become the 'hurdle' to qualify for SS and, if ever implemented, whatever national health care or insurance we end up with
For the record, I am single with no dependents and am not interested in bequeathing a large inheritance to someone.

omni
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Old 09-01-2007, 12:53 PM   #20
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I am also enjoying this thread. I had just been looking through old messages trying to find a comprehensive thread on when a trust is a good thing/worth doing, but it looks like this thread might come close to addressing it.

My parents and in-laws are both alive and in good health. My in-laws are very tax savvy, and have set up a trust to protect their assets from probate. My own parents have not. While the will of my parents is very simple - split assets evenly between the children, we all live in different states from my parents. I don't know how the probate laws in those states (or my parents' state, Arizona) will affect the assets. How much might be lost to the probate Courts, if anything. My parents say that they don't have enough money to make it worth having a trust, but I have doubts that is true.

Is there a place where I can look up this info? Or do one of you fine folks know more of the details on such a thing?
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