After the first spouse passes away, it is important to contact your estate planning attorney regarding the administration of the Trust. During the administration, the original Trust created by the married couple would be split into two sub-trusts. The first sub-trust is called the A Trust, or commonly referred to as the Survivor’s Trust; and the second sub-trust is called the B Trust, or commonly referred to as the Decedent’s Trust.
There are many steps involved in completing the administration of a Trust at the death of the first spouse. Here is a simplistic illustration of a few of these steps:
- The value of each asset must be determined as of the date of death.
- Those assets with community property status would receive a full step up in basis. The basis adjustment is very important to minimize capital gains should the surviving spouse choose to sell the asset.
- Once all of the assets have been valued, an analysis must be completed to determine which assets should be retitled from the original Trust to either the A or B sub-trusts to ensure the maximum asset protection for the surviving spouse against creditors, divorce, and Medicaid spend-down, while at the same time, minimizing taxes.
- Each asset would be retitled to either the A or B sub-trusts.
- Depending upon the terms of the Trust, the surviving spouse may have access to use the assets titled to the B Trust, or the Decedent’s Trust.
The Revocable Living Trust is a very powerful estate planning tool, which requires important attention at the death of the first spouse.
Contributed by MH Tucson Estate Planning Attorney, Wendy W. Harn.
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