Marital Trusts: Protecting Your Legacy & Providing a Stable Financial Future for People You Love

A properly crafted estate planning strategy has two primary components. First, you want to protect your legacy by making sure that your family will be provided for after your death. Second, you want to minimize the amount of taxes you need to pay. As an experienced Ohio probate and estate planning attorney, I often use a trust agreement to accomplish both of these complementary objectives. Marital trusts allow the trust-maker to minimize estate and gift taxes, while maximizing the amount of money you can pass on to family members or causes you care about.

A Marital Trust Can Create Income for Your Spouse While Preserving an Inheritance for Your Children

Many people forget that once we pass away, we lose control over what might happen to our spouse, our children, and our loved ones. That’s why, when it comes to estate planning, it’s important to make sure you’re working with a qualified and experienced Ohio probate and estate planning attorney. You only have one shot to get your estate plan right, and if mistakes are made, you won’t be able to correct them.

I often recommend the use of a marital trust to provide a source of income for your spouse while preserving an inheritance for your children. A marital trust takes advantage of the “unlimited marital tax deduction,” which allows spouses to transfer unlimited funds to one another without incurring a gift tax.

By transferring assets to your spouse through a trust and taking advantage of the unlimited marital tax deduction, you can reduce taxes assessed on your estate and maximize the amount of money you can pass on to your spouse and children. You can also use a marital trust to place restrictions on the use of assets held in the trust, which ensures that your children will still receive an inheritance.

Preserving Your Legacy for the People You Care About

A common concern in estate planning is that your spouse might remarry, and the nature of the relationship between your spouse and your children might change. This is especially common when there is a second marriage and your spouse is not the parent of your children. Many people are concerned that their spouse might wish to leave assets to a subsequent spouse, cutting your children out of the estate plan. A marital trust prevents this from happening by preserving your estate against claims made by a subsequent spouse. 

There are three forms of marital trust that are commonly used:

  • power-of-appointment marital trust is the least restrictive form and is created for the benefit of your surviving spouse. The surviving spouse receives income from interest earned on assets placed in the trust, and can make an appointment regarding distribution of their share of the estate. The remaining assets are passed according to the terms of the original trust.

  • Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust, or QTIP trust, provides an income stream during the lifetime of the surviving spouse. Once the surviving spouse passes away, the balance of the trust assets go to your children or other heirs as designated in the trust. A QTIP trust is often used by people who have been married more than once and have children from a prior marriage that they want to continue to provide for. Using a QTIP trust allows the trust-maker to retain control of the trust even after the surviving spouse dies by allowing the trust-maker to decide who receives the trust assets after the death of the surviving spouse.

  • An estate trust can be used to provide distributions to a surviving spouse, and the assets become part of the surviving spouse’s estate at the death of the surviving spouse. Under this form of trust, the trust-maker has no control over what happens to the trust assets once the surviving spouse passes away.

Questions About Marital Trusts? Contact Wolfe Legal Services Today

If you have questions about whether a marital trust might benefit you or your family, contact an experienced Ohio estate planning and probate attorney at Wolfe Legal Services today. I work with people throughout greater Columbus, including Dublin, Bexley, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Marysville, Hilliard, Delaware, and Newark, and throughout Franklin County, Delaware County, Pickaway County, Fairfield County, Union County, and Licking County. Call (614) 263-5297 any time or complete our online form.

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