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IS YOUR FAMILY'S TRUST SAFE?

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When you set up a trust for your family, you intend to protect and provide for them. But sometimes, even the wealthiest and most savvy families make mistakes when they try to safeguard future generations.

When you set up a trust for your family, you intend to protect and provide for them. But sometimes, even the wealthiest and most savvy families make mistakes when they try to safeguard future generations.

 

In 1935, Sarah Mellon Scaife established a trust for her son, Richard Mellon Scaife, which was designed to also care for her grandchildren upon his death. Sadly, that trust was depleted of $210 million under the watch of two co-trustees, attorneys who represented both Richard Scaife and his newspaper, and a bank. Richard Scaife’s children have sued the bank and co-trustees, maintaining that they allowed their father to drain the trust to bolster his faltering newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. If the Scaifes can’t get this right, what can an ordinary person do?

 

At Jones, Gregg, our estate planning and trust attorneys utilize a number of strategies to safeguard your family’s financial and personal well-being:

 

Establish a Trust Protector: We often put a Trust Protector in place to oversee trustees’ handling of a trust. Trust Protectors ensure that the actions of trustees comply with the legal requirements of a trust. A Trust Protector, who is often an attorney or an accountant, has access to all the information in the trust—nothing can be hidden from their eyes. The Trust Protector has automatic standing to go to court if part of the trust needs to be changed or improved. For example, if tax laws change, the Trust Protector can go to court and seek a court order to have parts of the trust revised so that taxes don’t eat up the trust’s resources. If Richard Mellon Scaife’s children had had a Trust Protector overseeing their father’s 1935 trust, they would not have been “in the dark” about the draining of $210 million dollars by the time of his death.

 

Employ an Intentionally Defect Grantor Trust:  One of many sophisticated estate planning tools, this trust is useful for reducing taxes that your family would otherwise be forced to pay.

 

Seek a Health Care Power of Attorney for Children over 18:  Without a health care power of attorney, if your over 18-year old child is in a car accident or suddenly taken ill while in college or working far from home, their doctor can refuse to answer your questions, share their medical records, or allow you to arrange for the treatment you prefer (such as removal to another hospital). It’s prudent to have a signed health care power of attorney before your child leaves home, even though we sincerely hope you will never need to use it.

 

Use a Financial Power of Attorney:  If you have an over 18 year-old child who attends college in another state, we can craft a power of attorney that complies with that state’s preferred format. If you have a power of attorney that follows Virginia’s format, you’ll find it easier to access hospitals, banks, and other institutions on behalf of your Virginia college student. Should you have an over 18-year old child who is out of the country for an internship or semester of study, a financial power of attorney will enable you to pay tuition in his or her absence.

 

Set Up a Special Needs Trust:  This trust protects children with disabilities by allowing you to set up funds for the benefit of your child, without disqualifying your child for government programs and benefits, such as Medicaid, job and skills training, rehabilitation programs, and community programs.

 

Contact one of our highly qualified estate planning, trusts, and administration attorneys at (412) 261-6400 to learn more ways Jones Gregg can help you to provide for your family and protect your assets.

 

 

 

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SHARON OFFICE:

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Suite 1200

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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info@jgcg.com

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109 South Water Avenue

Sharon, PA 16146-1355

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724.981.8000

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info@jgcg.com

412.261.6400

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