Baron Law

The Marital Deduction – What are the benefits?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney, Daniel A. Baron, offers information on The Marital Deduction as well as other Tax Planning Advice and what to make part of your Estate Planning.

What are the benefits?

The most important deduction a married couple has is the The Marital Deduction.  The amount of assets which can be passed upon death from one spouse to the other is unlimited and is also used to defer ALL estate taxes until the surviving spouse passes.  Current tax laws allow one spouse to give the other spouse assets where there is little to no tax imposed upon the transfer of these assets.  No matter what the value of the assets which are being transferred, whether it is $50,000 or $50,000,000.

What if there is a divorce?

If you happen to be divorced from your spouse, you can still pass assets to the ex-spouse after you pass with little or no tax being imposed if it is stated in the divorce decree.

My spouse is not a U.S. Citizen – Do the same tax laws apply?

The Marital Deduction is unlimited as long as both spouses are U.S. Citizens. So what happens when one of the spouses is not a US Citizen?

Should the first spouse to pass away be a U.S. Citizen and the surviving spouse a noncitizen of the U.S., unfortunately the unlimited marital deduction for Federal Estate Taxes is not available.

However, the taxes can be deferred by setting up a Qualified Domestic Trust (AKA QDOT), and having the assets pass through this specialized trust.

Should you own real property, consider adding this to the trust as the taxes will be deferred until the noncitizen spouse passes away.

For more information on The Marital Deduction and implementing other tax savings ideas as part of your Estate and Tax Planning, contact Daniel A. Baron of Baron Law to maximize tax savings upon your passing.  Contact us today at 216-573-3723.

Estate Planning Attorney

QDOT – What is it and should I have one?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney, Daniel A. Baron, offers information on a Qualified Domestic Trust and the benefits realized from including this as part of your Tax and Estate Planning:



The specific goal of a Qualified Domestic Trust (or QDOT) is to defer Federal Estate Tax on assets which are transferred from a spouse who is a US Citizen upon their death to the other spouse who is not a citizen of the US. If your marriage consists of both a US Citizen and a non US Citizen and your assets are minimally several million which the non US Citizen spouse has the possibility of inheriting,  it would be wise for you to secure a Qualified Domestic Trust.

What are some of the tax issues for spouses who are not US Citizens?

In the absence of Qualified Domestic Trust the non-citizen spouse now has to pay Federal Estate Tax on any assets transferred from the US Citizen spouse into the non-citizen spouse’s name, just as any other party who inherits assets from any other person when they pass.


What happens when no Qualified Domestic Trust exists and the spouse who is the

US Citizen passes away first?

If the surviving spouse is a non-citizen of the US, then as stated previously, Federal Estate Taxes will need to be paid on any assets which transfer to the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse would not have the unlimited Marital Deduction as it is should both spouses be US Citizens.  Paying the Federal Estate Taxes is the government’s way of collecting taxes so that the non-citizen spouse does not take all the assets back to their native country and avoid paying the necessary taxes.

There are two avenues which could be taken to avoid paying any inheritance tax:

  • Become a US Citizen
  • Set up a Qualified Domestic Trust

There are a number of requirements however set forth for set up a Qualified Domestic Trust after the spouse who is a US Citizen passes away, but it can be done. If your family situation is such that one spouse is a US Citizen and the other is not and has no intention of becoming one, it would be most advantageous for you to contact an Estate Planning Attorney to set up a Qualified Domestic Trust while you are both still living and of sound mind.

For more information on setting up a Qualified Domestic Trust as part of your Estate and Tax Planning, contact Daniel A. Baron of Baron Law to maximize your Federal Estate Tax savings upon your passing at 216-573-3723.

Cleveland Estate Planning Attorney

What is a Trust Protector?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney, Daniel A. Baron, offers information on a Trust Protector and their Role and benefits realized as part of your Comprehensive Estate Plan:

Who is a Trust Protector?

As it sounds, a Trust Protector is appointed to oversee the assets in the trust and to protect against the trustees so that they do not give into temptation and embezzle from the trust or squander the assets of the trust with unnecessary fees or legal issues.

Having a Trust Protector typically was only used with the upper echelons of society but some may say that if there is a trust, there should be a Trust Protector.   It is wise to appoint a Trust Protector especially in cases that the trust will be a long term trust such as:

  • Trust for your spouse so that they will live a certain lifestyle after you pass
  • Your children, grandchildren, or other heirs, that need to reach a goal in life prior to releasing the funds of the trust
  • Charitable goals – what is your legacy

Upon setting up a trust and should the trust have more than one trustee, there is a possibility of issues coming up which are believed to not be in the best interest of the trust. Having a Trust Protector can potentially quash any conflicts which may arise.  In addition, a Trust Protector can be very beneficial in other instances where conflict may arise.

Can I appoint anyone to be my Trust Protector?

You can appoint anyone you would like to protect your trust. Some ideas may be:

  • Someone who is close to your family
  • A Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • An attorney
  • Corporate Entity or Bank
  • Financial Planner CFP

What are the duties of a Trust Protector and Why would I need one?

Additional duties of a Trust Protector are, but not limited to:

  • If the trustee or trustees are performing in such a manner that is not advantageous to the beneficiaries of the trust OR are being unresponsive, the Trust Protector has the authority to remove the trustee and replace them if necessary.
  • Should any disputes or conflicts arise between the trustees, the Trust Protector’s Role is to resolve the disputes.
  • If there is a change of status with any of the beneficiaries, it would be the Trust Protector’s responsibility to update the trust accordingly.
  • Should there be any new beneficiaries which needed to be added, the Trust Protector would make the necessary changes to the Trust.
  • The Trust Protector also has VETO power of any financial / investment decisions which may not be in the best interest of the trust and it’s beneficiaries.
  • If the laws governing trusts change, the Trust Protector has the ability to amend the trust if the changes are advantageous to the trust.
  • The Trust Protector can manage the amount of money the trustees can spend by setting a dollar amount and/or requiring two signatures on a check before it can be released. The dollar amount will be predetermined upon the penning of the trust so that all the trustees and the Trust Protector are aware of this stipulation.
  • The Trust Protector has the ability to dissolve the trust for specific reasons such as;


  • There are no more funds in the trust as they have been released to the heirs as set forth in the trust and will


  • The goals of the heirs have been met and all the funds are released therefore leaving no assets in the trust

It is wise to put in writing what role you would like the Trust Protector to have handling your assets. To start a discussion  on your personalized comprehensive estate plan, including; living wills, trusts, power of attorney, or a pour-over will, or further questions on a Trust Protector, contact Daniel A. Baron of Baron Law.  Baron Law provides estate planning services for the greater Cleveland, Ohio area.  Contact us today at 216-573-3723.