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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Credit Shelter Trusts

Estate Planning Attorney Counseling Residents of Nashville

The estate planning needs of families in Middle Tennessee can vary considerably. One family might benefit from a special needs trust designed to transfer a small amount of wealth to an individual who might otherwise be disqualified from receiving TennCare or Medicaid. Another may need to set up a health care proxy naming a family member who can make medical decisions for the drafter of the document in the event that he or she becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. For families with a considerable amount of wealth, a credit shelter trust might be an attractive estate planning option. At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, Nashville estate planning lawyer Randy Ratliff can advise clients in Davidson and Williamson Counties with regard to a wide variety of estate planning tools.

People who have worked hard to acquire a significant amount of wealth often ask what they can do to avoid or minimize the impact of estate taxes. In most cases, it takes more than a simple will to do this. Trust documents, such as credit shelter trusts, can be one way to help protect a family’s wealth against taxation. In many ways, a credit shelter trust is similar to other types of trusts. Such estate planning vehicles are established by a settlor (or “trustor”), who transfers a certain amount of money or other property to a trustee, who then administers the corpus of the trust for the benefit of a designated beneficiary.

How Credit Shelter Trusts Operate as Part of an Overall Plan to Pass on Wealth

The distinctive feature of a credit shelter trust (sometimes called an AB Trust or a Bypass Trust) as opposed to other types of trusts is that a credit shelter trust has the narrowly defined purpose of allowing a surviving spouse access to certain income while avoiding, or at least minimizing, estate taxes at either the first or the second spouse’s death. Depending upon the value of the couple’s estate, all or perhaps only a portion of their wealth may be sheltered from taxation in this manner. An estate planning attorney can review your family’s financial situation in order to determine whether a credit shelter trust might be appropriate.

In most situations, a credit shelter trust is only one part of a couple’s overall estate plan. Depending upon the situation, a business succession plan, asset protection plan, or family asset protection trust might also be advisable. Our firm handles many other types of estate planning needs, including situation-specific documents for estate planning with a non-citizen spouse, planning for the estate of a same-sex couple, or preserving assets in a way uniquely designed to provide for a pet after the owner’s passing.

Consult a Nashville Attorney to Develop a Strategy for Protecting Your Assets

Each family is unique. Even when two families’ assets seem very similar, what works for one couple might not work for another. Family relationships, prior marriages, business property, and individual wishes can all factor into an effective estate plan. At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, we take pride in advising individuals and families throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties as they review their assets, liabilities, and family situations in order to determine the best way to preserve their hard-earned assets and secure the futures of their loved ones. To schedule an appointment, call us at 615-656-8282 or contact us through our online form. Attorney Randy Ratliff assists people in Nashville, Franklin, Brentwood, Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, and Cool Springs, among other communities, with their estate planning needs. We also handle elder law matters, such as those involving the Medicaid qualification process, Social Security and pension benefits, and nursing home contracts. We understand that these are very sensitive topics for most families, and we approach each situation with the utmost compassion, professionalism, and discretion. Randy Ratliff recognizes the importance of serving as a trusted counselor to each person who seeks his help, rather than simply viewing his work as a series of transactions.