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Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts: An Effective Estate Planning Tool to Avoid Taxes

Irrevocable life insurance trusts can be an effective estate planning tool for those who want to protect their assets from estate taxes. If you're concerned about the possibility of your estate being taxed, setting up this type of trust can help you pass on money to your heirs while avoiding both federal and state estate taxes.

By funding a trust with a life insurance policy that has a death benefit, you can ensure that your heirs receive some or all of the amount that your estate would have been taxed. However, if you purchased such a life insurance policy directly, it could end up being taxed as part of your estate. With an irrevocable life insurance trust, the policy is owned by the trust and can pass outside your estate.

While an irrevocable life insurance trust can be highly beneficial, it's also complex to set up and maintain properly. Some of the requirements include naming a trusted person or financial institution to act as trustee, having the trust own the life insurance policy, and transferring funds to the trust to pay the policy premiums.

To avoid gift taxes, you can use something called a “Crummey” power, which gives beneficiaries the right to withdraw the funds transferred to the trust for up to 30 days. As part of the process, the trustee needs to send them a letter, known as a Crummey letter, letting them know about the trust funding and their right to withdraw the funds.

The downside of an irrevocable life insurance trust is that you don't have the ability to change it once it's set up, although the policy would effectively be canceled if you stopped paying the premiums. If you're considering this type of trust, it's important to discuss it with your attorney to understand the legal requirements and implications for your estate planning.

Overall, an irrevocable life insurance trust can be an excellent way to protect your assets and ensure that your heirs receive the maximum benefit from your estate. If you're interested in learning more about this type of trust, it's important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions based on your individual circumstances.

If you require legal assistance with your directives, will and estate planning in Maryland, you may schedule a complimentary initial consultation with our Bauhof Legal team. Every case is unique and individual, and this website is not intended to offer legal counsel. Please feel free to reach out to us at or give us a call at +1 (410) 876 4500.


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