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Structuring beneficiary designations in a living revocable trust

Our estate planning law firm can help individuals decide how they want the residue of a living revocable trust to be distributed to beneficiaries.

A right of representation statement provides for transfers to one or more individuals with survivorship rights. This arrangement plans for the contingency where one or more beneficiaries named in a living revocable trust passes before receiving the assets. The statement provides that the beneficiary's child or children can take the beneficiary's share in equal shares. Organizations cannot be named as beneficiaries under this option, however.

A percentages statement provides for transfers to one or more individuals and/or organizations. The creator of the living revocable trust, called the settlor, can designate percentages of the estate residue that each individual beneficiary or married couple will receive. If the beneficiary does not survive the settlor by a certain period of time, however, such as 30 days, that beneficiary's share is generally divided among the other surviving named beneficiaries. The exception is where a married couple was named as a beneficiary, as the surviving spouse of that couple would still receive the share.

An equal shares to lapse statement provides for the transfer of assets to two or more beneficiaries in equal shares, with no survivorship rights. If one of the named beneficiaries passes before the settlor, that share would lapse and be redistributed among the surviving beneficiaries.

Finally, a specific gift statement provides for the transfer of specific assets to named beneficiaries. For example, a family-owned business, a share in a business entity, or residential real estate are some examples of assets that an individual might want to designate to a specific beneficiary. The statement usually states that the gift will lapse in the event the beneficiary does not survive the settlor. The statement also names one or more beneficiaries to receive the balance or residue of the estate, typically by right of representation.

Source: FindLaw, "Living Trust Information," copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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