Las Vegas Office: 702.254.4455
Henderson Office: 702.433.4455
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The other day I was meeting with a client who stated – “I have a silly question, but I need to ask it.  Can I provide for my dog in my estate plan?”  I explained to this client that this question is one that is often asked by many clients with pets.  And why shouldn’t it be asked when most pet owners view their pets as members of their family and as such want to ensure that their faithful companions’ needs are met if the owner does in fact pass away before the pet.

The answer to my client’s question is that she can provide for her dog through her estate plan.  Nevada law provides that a person can create what is more commonly known as a “pet trust” (see NRS 163.0075).  In order for a person to create a pet trust, the pet owner will need to decide how the trust will be funded, who will be the trustee, and who will be the caretaker of the pet.  In addition, the pet owner will need to provide direction as to how the trustee or caretaker will manage the pet and the funds for the benefit of the pet.  It may be helpful to provide specific instructions in the trust agreement as to the pet’s specific needs such as a certain brand of food to be fed to the pet or a particular veterinarian to be consulted for the pet’s care.

The benefit of creating a pet trust is that the trust is enforceable by law thereby providing pet owners with peace of mind knowing their pets will be cared for according to their instructions.  If you should have any further questions regarding pet trusts, please feel free to contact the law office of JEFFREY BURR at (702) 433-4455 for a free half-hour consultation.

-Attorney A. Collins Hunsaker

Passing along a great read from Bloomberg:

Some Trust agreements require the establishment of an Exemption Sub-Trust.  This was very common in Trust agreements prior to the dramatic increase in the equivalent exemption for federal estate tax purposes.  The principal advantage of an Exemption Sub-Trust that if it is correctly administered during the life of the surviving spouse, at the time of the death of the surviving spouse all of the assets of the Exemption Sub-Trust pass to the beneficiaries federal estate-tax free. This is true even though all of the income (and principal if need be pursuant to an ascertainable standard such as for health, education, maintenance and support) from the Exemption Sub-Trust is used for the benefit of the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime.

When the first spouse dies, the Successor Trustees must determine what Trust assets should be used to fund the Exemption Sub-Trust.  This is a very important determination.  In light of the fact that the Exemption Sub-Trust assets remaining at the time of the death of surviving spouse will not be subject to federal estate tax regardless of value, in the past the general rule was that assets with high appreciation potential should be used to fund the Exemption Sub-Trust.  In other words, the appreciation potential of an asset was the primary factor.  This was to avoid federal estate tax when the surviving spouse die, which federal estate tax is due 9 months after the date of death calculated at a 40% tax rate.

However, the equivalent exemption for federal estate tax purposes for deaths occurring in 2014 is $5,340,000.00.  The equivalent exemption is indexed for inflation, so it will continue to increase each year in the future. With the large equivalent exemption now in effect and to continue to increase in the future, another primary consideration in funding an Exemption Sub-Trust is the income tax basis of an asset.  Assets in the Exemption Sub-Trust have an income tax basis equal to the fair market value on the date of death of the first spouse to die, and there is no “step up in basis” to the value of the asset on the date of death of the surviving spouse. Accordingly, an asset in the Exemption Sub-Trust that has significantly increased in value since the death of the first spouse will, upon sale, have significant taxable gain for income tax purposes. Therefore, when funding the Exemption Sub-Trust, if it appears that there is very little likelihood of any federal estate tax upon the death of the surviving spouse because the surviving spouse’s taxable estate will be less than the projected equivalent exemption, it is prudent not to fund the Exemption Sub-Trust with assets with high appreciation potential assets but leave them in the taxable estate of the surviving spouse.  That way when the surviving spouse dies, those assets will receive a step up in basis equal to the fair market value as of the date of death of the surviving spouse. A sale of such asset shortly after the death of the surviving spouse in all likelihood will trigger very little, if any, taxable gain for income tax purposes plus there is no federal estate tax. Accordingly, the beneficiaries have the best of tax worlds, no federal estate tax and a step up in basis for income tax purposes.

At the law office of JEFFREY BURR, we have many years of experience assisting and advising corporate and individual Successor Trustees in the administration of a Trust after the death of a Trustor, including the funding of Exemption and other sub-trusts.

-Attorney John R. Mugan

Las Vegas Office
10000 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 100
Las Vegas, NV 89135
Phone: 702.254.4455
Fax: 702.254.3330
Henderson Office
2600 Paseo Verde Parkway, Suite 200
Henderson, NV 89074
Phone: 702.433.4455
Fax: 702.451.1853
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