Catchy title, but the real topic is “Credit Shelter Trusts: How to Pass Assets to Your Family and Not to Somebody Else’s Family.”
Here is the situation. You’ve worked your whole life and you have kids with your wife of many years. You are a pretty smart guy so you do your own simple will and leave everything to your wife, knowing that she will eventually pass everything along to your kids.
Attorneys charge too much anyway, and the $1,000 you just saved will buy you a brand new lawn mower. Brilliant!
What if you pass away prematurely? Remarriages do happen some-times. Your wife is sitting on a sizable estate and along comes Raoul who sweeps her off her grief-stricken feet. He convinces your wife to allow him to manage the new family estate after they get married. That makes sense, since you used to manage the finances and your wife was never interested in doing so.
Whom do you think will be more likely to end up with your half of the estate and even her half? Your kids? Or Raoul and his kids? My guess is the latter.
With the inclusion of a Credit Shelter Trust (CST) provision in your will, your half of the estate would have gone into a trust. Your spouse would become the beneficiary of the income from the trust, but your children would become the principal beneficiaries.
The purpose of the trust is to provide income, measured as interest, dividend and rental income to be paid to your spouse. The investments are designed to pass estate tax free to the heirs, not to someone unnamed in your will.
NOTE: The 2015 federal exemption is $5.43 million; the exemption for a married couple is $10.86 million.