Why Ed Slott Recommends Not to Name the Trust as Beneficiary of a Qualified Account?

In this episode of Berry’s Bites, Chris Berry answers the question: Ed Slott and his team recommend not naming the trust as a beneficiary, especially after the Secure Act. Can you explain your take on it?

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Episode Transcript:

Ed Slott and his team recommend not naming the trust as your beneficiary for your retirement accounts can you explain your take on it. So Ed Slott and I’m a big fan of Slott, I’ve participated in his elite advisor training program where we’d meet three times a year and get like 400-page binders of all the different things that are new in the IRA world.

I remember as I was at Slott event and him talking about this understand just first his role is a CPA so he’s really looking at this from a tax perspective and he’s looking at it from a perspective of people screw things up a lot so the issue is we have these we call them qualified accounts like IRAs 401k’s, 403B’s and lets for now just focus on them being pre-tax meaning you haven’t paid any income tax and so what would happen is that when you turn 70 and a half you would have to start paying taxes you’d have to start taking out what’s called required minimum distributions RMDs.

Now you would have to take out a portion and pay the taxes at some point well then the Secure act was passed and it actually pushed back the RMD from 70 and a half to 72. So now you have to start taking out RMDs at age 72. And actually, right now past the house, we have Secure act version 2 which is saying now your RMDs are going to be at age 75.

This isn’t law yet but this is probably where we’re going to be but that’s not why Slott says not to name the trust as a beneficiary like with the IRAs typically what we do and same with 401k’s, 43b’s is you’re the owner you have to be the owner can’t be anyone else. All right then primary beneficiary so if you were to pass away typically we would have the primary beneficiary be a spouse because then you could do what’s called a spousal roll over and then the contingent beneficiary and so this is where ed slot and myself differ and I’m comfortable with that and I’ll tell you why we typically recommend when we’re doing documents and planning for our clients we typically recommend naming the trust as a contingent beneficiary and I’ll get into why but here’s the thing.

So prior to the Secure act when we named someone other than a spouse as a beneficiary of the IRA they could do what’s called a stretch IRA so they could stretch out the taxes over their lifetime so if you left like a pre-tax ira to a 10-year-old their RMD because they would have a required minimum distribution might be like one percent and it could grow at three percent or four percent or five percent. So the RMDs you’re almost creating this like a lifetime income stream for your beneficiaries. If they’re young enough to inherit these IRAs so we would do like a lot of stretch ira trusts in fact but what the Secure Act said is no more stretch instead all the taxes have to be paid within 10 years so that that’s kind of the current law now here’s the thing and this is why Slott would say don’t name a trust as the beneficiary because to get that stretch that we used to have it had to be what’s called a designated beneficiary.

And this is kind of dry tax stuff but i just want to clarify why I actually differ from Slott on this and that’s a lot more famous than me it has to qualify as a designated beneficiary to get that full stretch and guess what some trusts may not qualify as a designated beneficiary. And if that’s the case all the taxes have to be paid within five years so you’re looking at naming a designated beneficiary for full stretch or if it’s not a designated beneficiary all the taxes have to be paid within five years.

So his concern is there are a lot of attorneys out there doing trusts that don’t understand this or a lot of advisors that don’t really understand this so his concern is if you don’t have a well-drafted trust then all the taxes would have to be paid within five years because the trust didn’t qualify as a designated beneficiary. Here’s why I say that’s fine but in our practice, we’re naming the trust as a beneficiary because our trust always qualified as a designated beneficiary.

Because of the language that we include in there and because we avoid some of the pitfalls so we were doing prior to the security we were doing stretch IRAs specifically doing a specific trust for the IRA to stretch it for like grandkids but even our trust now they all qualify as designated beneficiaries so we still get the full 10-year stretch that is allowed as a designated beneficiary whether you name someone individually or you name the trust with our trust at least it qualifies as a designated beneficiary so you get the full stretch that’s why Slott does not recommend naming the trust is because he looks at it from the tax perspective and people go to him with like a lot of the problems or screw-ups and so there’s a lot of times that the trusts don’t have the necessary language to be able to stretch it out the full amount which now is 10 years thanks to the Secure act.

So he was just being conservative knowing that there are good attorneys and bad attorneys and good trust and bad trust and so his generality is to say you know what it’s not worth naming the trust and then the other reason why it’s really important to name the trust typically with a lot of our trust is that our trusts don’t always say it goes just outright to the beneficiary. If that’s the case you can just name the beneficiary as a beneficiary designation what a lot of our trusts do especially our legacy and castle trusts is we build an opportunity for a lifetime of asset protection for our beneficiaries so whatever they inherit is protected from divorces creditors bankruptcies.

And then whatever they keep inside of the trust would flow down to your grandkids versus going to in-laws that’s very different than naming your child outright on your ira so that’s the big reason why even though we can only stretch it 10 years now we still name the trust as the beneficiary and worst case the IRA  the taxes are paid but the proceeds could still remain in the trust so there’s a very beneficial reason why we name our trust as beneficiary of the IRA because we give this opportunity for a lifetime of asset protection to the beneficiaries you name the child outright on the ira they’re going to lose that and then the reason why Slott America’s CPA who’s been on PBS says don’t aim a trust or have second thoughts about the trust is that he’s seen too many situations where attorney either isn’t aware or doesn’t include the language inside of the trust to get that full stretch. So now the full stretch whether you name a person individually or you name a trust is just 10 years but with our trusts they do qualify as designated beneficiaries so they still get the full 10-year stretch. Thank you.





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