Estate planning for couples in a second or subsequent marriage can be tricky, especially if their estates are disproportionate. One solution for allowing the well-to-do spouse to maintain control of their property and wealth–but keep their other spouse happy–is the “Lifetime QTIP Trust.”
The Basics of Creating a Lifetime QTIP Trust
In the estate planning world a “QTIP Trust” (qualified terminable interest trust) is a type of trust that allows a wealthier spouse to transfer an unrestricted amount of assets into trust for the benefit of their less wealthy spouse free from estate and gift taxes.
A common estate planning strategy for high net worth couples has been to make use of a QTIP Trust after the first death under the “AB Trust” structure: After the first spouse dies the “B Trust” holds an amount equal to the federal estate tax exemption (currently $11.58 million in 2020) and the “A Trust” holds the excess. Under this strategy the “A Trust” is in fact a “QTIP Trust” which qualifies for the unlimited marital deduction, meaning that property passing into the trust will not be subject to estate taxes until the surviving spouse dies.
But what if instead of creating and funding the QTIP Trust after death, the wealthy spouse creates and funds the QTIP Trust for their spouse’s benefit with tax free gifts while the wealthy spouse is alive? This is the “Lifetime QTIP Trust” which must meet the following criteria to qualify for the unlimited marital deduction:
Planning With a Lifetime QTIP Trust Offers a Multitude of Benefits
Outright gifts to your spouse during life or after death lead to total loss of control. If you and your spouse have families from prior marriages and lopsided estates, the problem is exacerbated by the difference in your wealth – while the well-to-do spouse will be just fine if the less wealthy spouse dies first, the opposite is not true. If you and your spouse are in this situation, a Lifetime QTIP Trust offers the following benefits:
Do You and Your Spouse Need a Lifetime QTIP Trust?
As with other types of estate planning tools and strategies, Lifetime QTIP Trusts are not “one size fits all” and must be specifically tailored to each couple’s unique goals, family dynamics, and financial situation. Please call our firm if you think you and your spouse fit the Lifetime QTIP Trust profile and we will help you determine what will work best for your family.