Monday, January 23, 2006

Please don't leave me a million!

Trusts are trendy, as we noted recently. Today's example, Karen Hube's discussion of disclaimers in the Wall Street Journal. She puts in a good word for GSTs:
If your benefactor is still alive, the most drastic option is simply to request to be left out of a will. Before going that route, however, you should consider a more flexible, if complicated, alternative: You can ask that the benefactor, rather than naming you directly as an heir, instead establish a "generation-skipping trust" -- one that names your children as the beneficiaries.

Such an arrangement offers several benefits. First, if the need ever arises, you can draw income from the trust, even though you don't own the assets outright. Second, because you don't own the assets, the property avoids estate taxes when you die. Finally, any assets that your children don't tap during their lifetimes can be passed to the subsequent generation free of all but income taxes. If you don't have children, a generation-skipping trust can be set up for another member of the younger generation in your family -- say, a niece or a nephew.
Question is, how rich does someone have to be in order to feel comfortable with the idea of saying “please don't leave me a million"? Surveys suggest that even someone with $10 million believes he or she would be more secure with more substantial wealth.

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