Most Americans follow the "classic" method of estate planning, that goes from older generations to their younger ones. However, that perspective doesn't take into consideration some opportunities to increase family after-tax wealth.
Effective estate management enables you to manage your affairs during your lifetime and control the distribution of your wealth after death. An effective estate strategy can spell out your healthcare wishes and ensure that they're carried out – even if you are unable to communicate. It can even designate someone to manage your financial affairs should you be unable to do so.
It usually involves creating a living trust for the purpose of avoiding conservatorship in the event of incapacity and avoiding probate upon death. There is no question that being able to avoid the cost, expense, frustration, and other hassles with conservatorship and probate is worth the legal fee in creating such an important document.
Sadly, many Americans have not seen additional benefits of creating a living trust beyond avoiding conservatorship and probate. However, there is much more than meets the eye. The idea behind Reverse Estate Planning is that adult children can use an array of standard tax and estate planning strategies to transfer assets to their parents in a tax-advantage way.
Here’s what you need to know about Reverse Estate planning, and if it might be for you.
Reverse Estate Planning 101
When most individuals consider Estate Planning, they look "downstream" to future generations. They think about how to structure the Estate Plan so as to provide for children, grandchildren, and other younger beneficiaries.
The perspective has always been, "How can we benefit future generations?" And while this is a key aspect of any Estate Plan, there is not enough focus on the reverse, also known as "Upstream Estate Planning". You should also focus upon how gifts and inheritances you expect to receive should be structured in order to benefit you.
The idea is the adult children can use an array of standard tax and estate planning strategies to transfer assets to their parents in tax-advantaged ways. The parents then use their lifetime exemptions to pass that wealth to their younger generations through either their estates or lifetime gifts. They might even benefit their adult children at little or no tax cost by passing the money to irrevocable trusts the adult children can’t control.
It's also a good way for family members to make loans. For example, the adult children can take out low-interest loans for their parents. The parents use the loan incomes to buy assets that are expected to grow. At some point, they repay the loans and let the appreciation pass through their estates tax-free to the younger generations, either directly or through trusts. Or the parents can make lifetime gifts to the grandchildren or the trusts, using part of their lifetime exemptions.
Is Reverse Estate Planning for You?
As mentioned, traditional Estate Planning usually involves creating a Living Trust for the purpose of avoiding conservatorship in the event of incapacity and avoiding probate upon death. There is no question that for the vast majority of Americans, being able to avoid the cost, expense, frustration, and other hassles with conservatorship and probate is worth the legal fee in creating a Living Trust.
Nowadays however, most of the widely-used strategies for transferring wealth to younger generations also can be used to transfer wealth to the older generation.
Some adult children who have more assets than parents and can help take care of the older generation. In these cases, Reverse Estate Planning can play a valuable role. Some families would also benefit by using Reverse Estate Planning to pass assets now to the older generation so their excess exemptions can be used to transfer assets tax free for the benefit of their grandchildren or later generations.
Be aware, the lifetime estate and gift tax exemptions might not remain at their current levels much longer. The 2017 tax law is scheduled to expire after 2025, which would cut the exemptions in half. So, if Reverse planning seems like a good idea for your loved ones, now is the time to take advantage of it.
The key is to be aware of the concept of "Reverse" or "Upstream" Estate Planning and if it's for you, you should ask your benefactors if they'd be willing to sign a Heritage Trust and make a modification to their Estate Plan.
There’s no better time to plan for the future than right now. At Agemy Financial Strategies, our first priority is helping you take care of yourself and your family. We want to learn more about your personal situation, identify your dreams and goals, and provide you with the highest level of service.
Whether you think Reverse Estate Planning is for you or you'd like to explore a more traditional Estate Planning route, reach out to our Fiduciary advisors here to instantly book the day and time you'd like to connect with us for your complimentary 30 minute consultation. Our financial advisors in Guildford, CT and Denver, CO are looking forward to speaking with you.