Trusts Can Benefit Your Grandchildren

You gave your children a great start in life and they are all well established, and you are leaving them your assets to ensure their security later in life.  But, what about your grandchildren?  Would you like to secure their future as well?  It may be easier than you think.

Q.:  How can I help secure my grandchildren’s future?

A.: You can give $12,000 to each grandchild each year with no gift or estate tax consequences.  If you are married you can give twice this amount.  Due to the miracle of compound interest, this can create quite a nest egg by the time the grandchild is at retirement age.  The average rate of return for large, publicly-traded stocks, net of inflation, has been about 7.3 percent.  Money invested at this rate would double about every 10 years.  Let’s say you and your spouse each contribute $12,000 for the first two years of the grandchild’s life, for a total of $48,000.  If this nest egg were invested and returned the average historical stock market return, by the time your grandchild is age 52, he or she would have over $1.8 million in today’s dollars.  By age 62, the earliest age to begin drawing social security, he or she would have over $3.6 million.

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How can I see to it that my grandchildren get the money I’d like them to have?

A.: Of course, when your grandchild is a newborn, you cannot just give him or her a check.  However, you can set up an irrevocable trust with your grandchild as the beneficiary.  In fact, you can set up one trust for all of your grandchildren that will split into separate trusts after your death or when each grandchild has reached a certain age.  You can set up the standards for distributions and can ensure that the nest egg is not squandered by your grandchildren before they are mature enough to handle the responsibility.

Q.:  Is there a downside to setting up a trust for my grandchild?

A.: As with most things, there are complications.  You have to be careful that the trust assets will not be subject to a “generation-skipping transfer (“GST”) tax.”  The GST tax applies whenever you give assets to someone that is two or more generations younger than you are.  The GST tax is in addition to the normal estate tax, and the rate is between 45 percent and 55 percent, depending upon the year of the transfer.  However, you and your spouse can each give at least $2.0 million to your grandchildren without paying the GST tax.  Also, a variety of techniques can be used to pass assets for the benefit of your grandchildren without paying the GST tax.

Q.:  Who should I contact about setting up a trust?

A.: A qualified estate planning attorney can help you determine how to best provide for your grandchildren.  A qualified financial planner can help you achieve the financial goals so the nest egg you provide will ensure a comfortable retirement for your grandkids.

The information contained herein is general and should not be applied to specific legal problems without first consulting with one of our attorneys.


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