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How a Lifetime QTIP Trust Protects Your Nest Egg in Second Marriages (and Beyond)

How to Control Your Nest Egg in a Second Marriage using a Lifetime QTIP Trust

Estate planning for couples in a second or later marriage who have disproportionate estates can be tricky. To avoid second marriage inheritance issues, one solution for allowing the well-to-do spouse to maintain control of their assets but keep their other half happy is the Lifetime QTIP Trust.

The Basics of Creating a Lifetime QTIP Trust

In the estate planning world, a “QTIP 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.

Typically married couples would make use of a QTIP Trust after death under the “AB Trust” strategy: After the first spouse dies the “B Trust” holds an amount equal to the federal estate tax exemption (currently $5.45 million in 2016) 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:

  • The trust must be irrevocable.
  • The trust must be created for the benefit of a spouse who is a U.S. citizen.
  • The spouse must be entitled to receive all of the net income from the trust at least annually.
  • The spouse must have the right to demand that any non-income producing property be converted into income-producing property.
  • The spouse must be the only one who has the power to appoint trust property.
  • A federal gift tax return must be filed in a timely manner.

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 lopsided estates and families from prior marriages 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:

  • The wealthy spouse can create and fund a Lifetime QTIP Trust without using any gift tax exemption.
  • The generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is not portable, so a Lifetime QTIP Trust can be used to take advantage of the less wealthy spouse’s exemption. This might reduce overall taxes.
  • During the less wealthy spouse’s lifetime he or she will receive all of the trust income and may be entitled to receive trust principal for limited purposes.
  • When less wealthy spouse dies the assets remaining in the trust will be included in his or her estate, thereby making use of the less wealthy spouse’s otherwise unused federal estate tax exemption.
  • If the less wealthy spouse dies first, the remaining trust property can continue in an asset-protected, lifetime trust for the wealthy spouse’s benefit (subject to applicable state law) and the remainder will be excluded from the wealthy spouse’s estate when he or she dies.
  • After both you and your spouse die, the balance of the trust will pass to the wealthy spouse’s children and grandchildren or other beneficiaries chosen by the wealthy spouse.

Do You and Your Spouse Need a Lifetime QTIP Trust?

As with other types of estate planning, Lifetime QTIP Trusts are not “one size fits all” and must be specifically tailored to each couple’s unique family dynamics and financial situation. Please call McDonald Law Firm today at (443) 741-1088 if you think you and your spouse fit the Lifetime QTIP Trust profile; Andre O. McDonald, a knowledgeable Howard County estate planning attorney can help you determine what will work best for your family.


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For help with estate planning, special needs planning or elder law throughout Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore County; and Baltimore City, contact McDonald Law Firm, LLC.

McDonald Law Firm, LLC

Columbia Office

10500 Little Patuxent Pkwy, #420
Columbia, MD 21044-3563

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7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800 West
Bethesda, MD 20814

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Washington, DC 20037

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