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August 14, 2015

Trustee Fees as Part of Special Needs Planning in Anchorage

In order to ensure proper use of funds, Anchorage special needs planning lawyers help their clients choose a trustee.  This person is put in charge of the special needs trust, and instead of providing money directly to the beneficiary (the child with special needs), the trustee will usually pay directly from the trust to service providers, housing officials, etc.  Some trusts are set up with the parents and the special needs planning lawyer in a way that provides payment to the trustee for taking on these responsibilities.

Sometimes, there is no mention of a fee in the trust paperwork, but the trustee is still entitled to payment, if desired.  There are several factors that should go into determining a suitable fee, whether it is stipulated in advance by those creating the trust or it is later determined that one is needed.  The complexity of the trust is certainly one of those considerations.  If there are numerous investments that need to be managed, for example, it would be appropriate to pay the trustee for the time and expertise involved.

The types of services the trustee provides also play into determining the fee.  More complex tasks, like the investment management mentioned above, would likely be paid at a higher rate than less complicated ones, such as paying monthly bills.  The trustee would be responsible for tracking his or her time, along with the service, in order to determine a fair fee. 

Occasionally, a trustee will pay for a good or service from personal money.  When that happens, the trustee can expect to be reimbursed out of the special needs trust by providing a receipt for money spent on the beneficiary’s behalf.  This type of payment is separate from the trustee’s fee and would not be treated the same.  That’s because the trustee’s fee is taxed as income.  On the trust’s end of things, the fee is a tax deduction.

Special needs planning lawyers in Anchorage are continually looking for the best ways to serve their clients and provide for the future.  Having a trustee in place is one method to ensure that funds are being used appropriately, and paying that trustee can be one way to ensure the job gets done right.

 

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JUNE 30, 2015

Anchorage Will and Trust Lawyer: Joan Rivers Estate Included a Pet Trust

When a celebrity passes away, Anchorage will and trust lawyers often watch for news of their affairs, hoping that the celebrity in question had a great estate plan in place.  With the recent loss of comedian Joan Rivers, it was reassuring to see that she had planned well for her loved ones, including her pets.

At the time of her death, Rivers’ estate was worth approximately $150 million, and she clearly knew that estate planning was no joking matter.  Most of her assets were left to her daughter Melissa and her grandson Cooper.  However, the celebrity also took the additional step of setting up a pet trust for her four dogs.

How Pet Trusts Work

Pet trusts have become somewhat popular these days, which is great news for companion animals who have been left behind.  Not only will the person creating the trust designate a guardian for the pets, he or she will also set aside funds for the animals’ upkeep.  There is also a trustee named who is in charge of the financial aspects of the trust.  In some cases, the guardian or caretaker is also the trustee, but in others a separate person is designated.  The trustee disperses funds to the guardian, lessening the likelihood of the guardian misusing the money for his or her own benefit.  An additional safeguard is to photograph or microchip your pets so that fraud cannot be committed later.

Better Than a Will

While your Anchorage will and trust lawyer may still encourage you to have a will in order to disperse your estate, those wanting to provide for their pets are probably better off creating an additional pet trust.  Animals are not allowed to own property, so leaving anything to a pet via your will is unlikely to work.  Instead, a pet trust is set up specifically for the animal’s benefit while having the oversight and management of actual humans.

The terms of trusts are not typically made public (one of the reasons Alaska will and trust lawyers like them so much), so it’s not really known how much Joan Rivers provided in her pet trust.  What is known is that her long-time assistant Jocelyn Pickett will be the dogs’ caretaker.  Many organizations are excited about the fact that such a high-profile celebrity has created a pet trust, hoping that it brings awareness to the possibility and improves the lives of animals whose owners pass away.

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