From the desk of Charlie McCullough
Having my parents living with our family has been a great experience for our children as well as for Lisa and me. It definitely has eased our minds to know they are happy and being cared for in a way that shows them respect. Before my parents moved in with us they sold their home and liquidated a lot of their assets. We then sat down with them and our attorney to create a trust fund. My parents have often said that it gives them great comfort to know their legacy will live on through their current investments and they have the ability to decide where these funds will reside after their passing.
With that said, I came across an interesting article the other day with regard to changes in the Wisconsin Trust Code. In reading through the information on the legislation, which was signed into law in December 2013 and will go into effect on July 1, 2014, it appears as though a lot of the old Wisconsin Trust Code is changing (and according to the article it is due time for these changes). I did a little digging to research how this might impact my parent’s trust and found some interesting points. I am not a lawyer, so please bear with me in my interpretation of the law…but here is what I understand to be true about the new trust code:
- Testamentary trusts, much like the one my parents have, developed based on the probate of a will are not subject to court oversight unless one of the beneficiaries petitions the court for such an oversight. This also means that trustees are not required to file an annual accounting to the courts.
- While this doesn’t pertain to my parent’s trust, I found it interesting to note that individuals can now create a trust to benefit their pet. Yes, you read that correctly…you can now create a trust that will benefit your beloved pets. In the past, beneficiaries could only be a person or another entity.
- Property can now be titled in both the name of the trust itself and in the name of the trustee. In the past it had to be one way or another…now either way is acceptable.
- The trust termination threshold has been increased from $50,000 to $100,000 (anything under $100,000 might not be cost effective to keep in a trust).
It is also important to point out that many of these new rules can be changed depending upon how they are written within the trust document itself. It is times like this that I am so glad I have a team of individuals to whom I can turn when I have questions. In addition to an excellent attorney, my friends at Financial Fiduciaries are also an invaluable resource for helping me sort through the legislation minutia as it pertains to my current investments (and those of my parents as well). With that in mind, if you or your loved ones have a trust fund in place, I would suggest you speak to a professional to gain a firm understanding about how the new Wisconsin Trust Code will impact what you currently have in place.