Self directed IRAs (SDIRA) have been around since the early 1970s. In spite of their history, they haven’t been all the rage until more recently thanks to media attention. The biggest press was on former Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s SDIRA. It shouldn’t be believed that only the most wealthy can use SDIRA as part of their total retirement financial and estate planning.
SDIRA give everyone more control and investment options vs. regular IRAs. This is due to the individual being able to control the investments instead of a brokerage firm or bank. More than just being in control of the IRA, the SDIRA permits a whole lot of investments options instead of just traded securities. Examples include real estate, private equities, precious metals, and much more.
Not all is rosy with SDIRA. The assumption is that the manager of the IRA, the individual investor him or herself, needs to have some experience in the investments they are managing. Too often a manager or adviser is hired to assist the individual on the investments. This is an added cost.
Further drawbacks on tax and legal regulations. Provisions against self-dealing and avoiding too much involvement in the operation of a business are just a couple of the potential pitfalls.
SDIRA can be a part of a person’s financial and estate planning but care should be taken before taking hold of the wheels of this type of IRA.
This question usually gets asked by the family after a loved one has died and they are told they have to go through probate. How did this happen?
Yes, one of the benefits of a revocable trust is avoiding probate. The explanation everyone has heard is because the assets are held in trust there isn’t an estate to be probated. Instead, the successor trustee can access, get under control, liquidate and ultimately distribute the estate to the trust beneficiaries. So, if this is what is suppose to work, what went wrong? These are the most common cases of probates in spite of a revocable trust being in place:
Refinance. Very often when a client has a house in a trust decides to refinance the mortgage, the house gets transferred out of trust in order to make the financing go through. Too often the title company will transfer the property out but never takes any steps to transfer the house back in or even remind the owner that the house needs transferred back.
IRA or Insurance Beneficiary dies. If you have named a beneficiary of your IRA or life insurance and they die, often the contract states it will be paid to your “Estate.” This often means probate.
Leaving checking or investment accounts and vehicles out of trust. While you can have up to $75,000 outside of trust and not go through probate, sometimes accounts do not get titled in the name of the trust. If the total non-trust assets exceed $75,000, you may be in probate.
Mortgages. While a house may be in the trust, and therefore avoid probate, if you have to work with a lender, you will need to have an executor appointed to represent the decedent in all dealings with the lender. The same may apply to other debts or the IRS.
Of course most of these can be avoided with just being mindful that most assets need to be titled in the name of the trust.
Avoidance of probate. In particular, a revocable living trust can avoid expensive multiple probate proceedings when you own real estate in several different states, as well as the publication of the otherwise private financial details of your estate.
Avoidance of conservatorship. A revocable trust can avoid the additional cost of a conservatorship in the event of your incapacity.
Efficient distribution. A revocable trust can reduce delays in t istributing your property after you die, although delays caused by filing an estate tax return cannot be avoided.
Confidentiality. Generally the terms of your living trust are confidential, with only your named beneficiaries and trustee having access to that information.
Continuity. A trust can provide continuity of management of your property after your death or incapacity.
Disadvantages of a Revocable Living Trust
Expenses of planning. A revocable living trust can be a little more complicated than a will to draft, and asset transfers can take time and can result in additional costs.
Expenses of administration. If you appoint a bank or trust company as trustee, you will have fees to pay (though these may take the place of investment advisory fees and other fees you are already paying). Of course if you do not use these services, this additional expense will not apply. Setting up a revocable living trust will not eliminate the need for professional services of attorneys and accountants in the future.
Inconvenience. Once the trust is established, you must be sure that trust books are maintained and that all assets continue to be registered to the trustee. Again, this is not a large issue but certainly is something to consider.
Unforeseen problems. Revocable living trusts can raise a variety of new problems regarding the ability to borrow against property, title insurance coverage, real estate in other countries, Subchapter-S stock, certain pension distributions, and many other issues. Only a skilled attorney familiar with estate planning can tell you whether, on the whole, a revocable living trust is right for you, your family and your assets.
In this author’s opinion, the advantages far out weight the disadvantages
This is based on an posting by the Oregon State Bar
The “typical” client 20 years ago was very concerned about ending up in probate after their passing. I am not sure if this came from all the advertised estate planning seminars that used this to scare people into living trusts, or more accurately stated, buying their financial products. Probate is certainly still a concern for many clients, which in this writer’s opinion isn’t the terrible process it is made out to be. The bigger concern now is a client’s possible dementia or incapacity in later years.
This is certainly an advantage of a trust over a will. The assets held in trust and an excellent power of attorney for the day to day financial matters are a great way to take care of each individual in later years. If one happens to be unable to care for their own self, their successor trustee and agent under the power of attorney can almost always take care of all their financial matters without court action, conservatorship or governmental involvement.
Everyone should have an estate plan, meaning a Will, powers of attorney, and similar. But when should you have a trust? The benefit of revocable trust include a tool to assist us in the event of our incapacity. Instead of going to court to seek a conservatorship, your chosen one can manage your assets and take care of your financial needs acting as your trustee. No court involvement, much easier transition. Upon your passing, you also will avoid probate. Another public, court procedure, entirely avoided with a trust. The administration of your estate is private, easily administered, and can almost always done outside of the lawyers and court system.