Allard LTD. CPA & Financial Services

(952) 895-0895

Estate Read Time: 3 min

A Primer on Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

"I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money."
Entertainer Arthur Godfrey

The irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can be an important estate strategy tool that may accomplish a number of estate objectives; however, it may not be appropriate for every individual.1,2

What Is an ILIT?

An ILIT is created by an individual (the grantor) during his or her lifetime. The ILIT owns a life insurance policy on the grantor’s life via the transfer of ownership of an existing policy or through the grantor’s annual contribution of cash to pay the premiums on a policy purchased by the trust.3

The grantor designates beneficiaries, usually family members, who will typically receive the proceeds upon the death of the grantor.

The trust is irrevocable, meaning that the grantor forfeits all rights to the property contained in the trust. Its irrevocable nature is integral to accomplishing the ILIT’s objectives.

What Can an ILIT Accomplish?

The ILIT may be able to accomplish several estate objectives, including:

  1. Meeting liquidity needs;
  2. Managing estate taxation on the policy proceeds;
  3. Providing income to survivors.

How Does an ILIT Work?

When you die, the trust is designed to receive a payment equal to the policy coverage amount, e.g., $500,000. Since the trust’s ownership of the policy is irrevocable, the proceeds are not considered your property. Consequently, they do not fall into your estate, thus potentially avoiding estate taxation. (Remember, generally no income tax is due on such life insurance proceeds.)4

The trust provisions should be set up to provide direction about how and to whom payments may be made. You may direct that the trust pay out cash to cover certain expenses, e.g., funeral costs, probate, taxes, final medical expenses, and debts.

This may obviate the need to sell less liquid assets at an inopportune time to cover such costs.

The trust’s beneficiaries may receive the proceeds (after any payments are made to satisfy liquidity needs), creating an inheritance free of estate taxes. Finally, creditors should not be able to attack these assets since they belong to the trust, not you.

Creating an ILIT should be done only with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. It is a complicated exercise in which mistakes may result in losing the benefits ILITs offer.

1. Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.
2. Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.
3. Investopedia.com, 2021
4. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific estate or estate strategy. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Share |
 

Related Content

Term to Perm Life Insurance Conversion Tips

Term to Perm Life Insurance Conversion Tips

There are many types of life insurance policies that can help protect you and your family. Term life insurance can be an attractive choice for millennials who are...

Healthcare Costs in Retirement

Healthcare Costs in Retirement

Without a solid approach, health care expenses may add up quickly and potentially alter your spending.

Estate Management 101

Estate Management 101

A will may be only one of the documents you need—and one factor to consider—when it comes to managing your estate.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

Do You Know the Whole Life Story?

Change comes at us from every angle as people update and upgrade everything from their diets to their devices, seemingly every day.

Financial Hacks for Millennials: Student-Debt

Here are seven ways to reduce that debt and live more confidently.

Attract Better Employees with Better Benefits

In a good economy, smart business owners know that a benefits package needs to fan a candidate’s excitement for joining...

View all articles

A Look at Systematic Withdrawals

This calculator may help you estimate how long funds may last given regular withdrawals.

Potential Income from an IRA

Estimate your monthly and annual income from various IRA types.

Annuity Comparison

This calculator compares a hypothetical fixed annuity with an account where the interest is taxed each year.

View all calculators

Protecting Those Who Matter Most

The importance of life insurance, how it works, and how much coverage you need.

5 Smart Investing Principles

Principles that can help create a portfolio designed to pursue investment goals.

Investment Strategies for Retirement

Investment tools and strategies that can enable you to pursue your retirement goals.

View all presentations

The Business Cycle

How will you weather the ups and downs of the business cycle?

Coaches

Coaches have helped you your whole life, in ways big and small. We’d like to be one of them.

Retiring the 4% Rule

A portfolio created with your long-term objectives in mind is crucial as you pursue your dream retirement.

View all videos