I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.
Entertainer Arthur Godfrey1
The irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can be an important estate strategy tool that may accomplish a number of estate objectives, though it may not be appropriate for every individual.2,3
An ILIT is created by an individual (the grantor) during his or her lifetime. The ILIT owns a life insurance policy on the grantor’s life via the transfer of ownership of an existing policy, or through the grantor’s annual contribution of cash to pay the premiums on a policy purchased by the trust.
The grantor designates beneficiaries, usually family members, who will typically receive the proceeds upon the death of the grantor.
The trust is irrevocable, meaning that the grantor forfeits all rights to the property contained in the trust. Its irrevocable nature is integral to accomplishing the ILIT’s objectives.
The ILIT may be able to accomplish several estate objectives, including:
When you die the trust is designed to receive a payment equal to the policy coverage amount, e.g., $500,000. Since the trust’s ownership of the policy is irrevocable, the proceeds are not considered your property. Consequently, they do not fall into your estate, thus potentially avoiding estate taxation. (Remember, generally no income tax is due on such life insurance proceeds.)4
The trust provisions should be set up to provide direction about how and to whom payments may be made. You may direct that the trust pay out cash to cover certain expenses, e.g., funeral costs, probate, taxes, final medical expenses, and debts.
This may obviate the need to sell less liquid assets at an inopportune time to cover such costs.
The trust’s beneficiaries may receive the proceeds (after any payments are made to satisfy liquidity needs), creating an inheritance free of estate taxes.
Finally, creditors should not be able to attack these assets since they belong to the trust, not you.
Creating an ILIT should be done only with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. It is a complicated exercise in which mistakes may result in losing the benefits ILITs offer.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.