Fourteen Tips for More Flexible Trusts

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act dramatically changed trust planning. Though many of those were sunset provisions, it’s still possible a new administration may yet again change the rules.

If you were creating a trust 100 years ago, what would have been on your mind?

World War I had just ended. Automobiles were becoming more common. There were no commercial airplanes. Babe Ruth was a pitcher for Boston. Women didn’t have the right to vote. Divorce was very rare. Adopted children didn’t have a right to inherit from grandparents. Children born outside of marriage were scorned and had no inheritance rights. 

Consider the rapid pace of changes in social norms, technology and the law over just the past decade, let alone the past century, in terms of topics such as same-sex marriage, gender identity, assisted reproductive technologies, digital assets and cryptocurrencies. And, of course, the tax landscape is always changing.

The process in which we do estate planning hasn’t changed at near this pace. Too often, the manner in which practitioners endeavor to help families plan is mired in our past ways of doing things rather than thinking ahead and planning for the next 100 years. With the trend toward longer lasting (even perpetual) trusts, most trusts are being designed to contemplate that they’ll still exist in hundreds of years, if not longer, if the assets aren’t fully depleted sooner.

With this in mind, we’re in the chorus of those singing about the need to draft trusts for flexibility. Let’s consider these 14 recommendations for creating  trusts that can bend like Gumby and change with the times.

This gallery is adapted from the authors’ original article in the .

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