Estate Legal Terms—The Sweetheart Trust
The Sweetheart Trust is a particular type of revocable living trust. This type of trust earns its name because of the degree of control passed on to a spouse when the first mate dies. While both mates are alive and have use of their mental faculties, either mate has control over his or her portion of the trust, hence the idea of it being revocable. When one spouse dies, the survivor gains complete control over the entire trust. So the term Sweetheart refers to the idea that either surviving spouse would gain control after the loss of his or her mate.
Is This the Right Choice for a Married Couple?
For many, it is. This is because it is a very straightforward way to structure a trust that becomes the possession of the surviving mate. It can also be less expensive since it helps to avoid probate issues and ensures the surviving mate is administered the trust quickly. This is also a great option for taking advantage of the $5 million unified credit amount which allows the money to pass estate tax-free. Of even more benefit is that the couple can add their unified credit amounts together and leave descendants more than $10 million that is not subject to estate taxes.
Is There a Downside to the Sweetheart Trust?
There are a few circumstances that could affect whether this is the right option for you. Let’s say a couple gets married and each spouse already has children of their own. Now there are two sets of heirs. If one mate dies, the survivor may be tempted to make his or her heirs the only beneficiaries now that the survivor has full control of the trust. Also, if the survivor marries again after the death of a mate, the new spouse may get the money rather than any heirs of the original couple. Therefore, it is important to consider your marriage and family situations carefully with the help of an attorney.
We know just who you can call. The Petrov Law Firm is very experienced with estate planning law. Our attorneys can help you to determine the best way to ensure your estate goes where you want it to at your death. For more information, call us today at 619-344-0360.