Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney

Grantor vs Non-Grantor Trusts

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney, Daniel A. Baron, offers information on the differences between and Grantor and a Non-Grantor Trusts and further considerations to as part of your Tax and Estate Plan:

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Understanding tax benefits and pitfalls of a trust and putting together a trust which is most beneficial for your personal situation is best left to an experienced trust attorney who can explain the differences in trusts and customize your Estate Plan.

Consequently, understand that the term used; Grantor Trust and Non-Grantor Trust are important.  These terms mean very different things but are both associated with tax implications.

The Grantor is the party who establishes the trust and maintains control while living and mentally capable.

Some examples of Grantor Trusts

  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Dynasty Trust
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)
  • Spousal Access Trusts
  • The majority of Irrevocable Trusts
  • Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT or DIGIT)

When setting up your trust as part of your Estate Planning, tax planning is an integral part of each and every plan and is as individual as you are.

Planning for Tax implications

How is the trust going to be taxed? Does the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) affect the taxes of your trust?  By setting up a Grantor Trust you can realize a number of tax advantages.  Some of these advantages are but not limited to:

  • Sell assets to the trust and not have to pay for the gains of the sale
  • Loan money to the trust – keeping in mind that the trust must pay the minimal IRS interest rate; however the income recognized from the interest is not taxable to you
  • The trusts income tax, paid by you (the Grantor), is not viewed as a gift to the trust

Plain and simple, the assets of the trust grows, which in turn benefits the beneficiaries without paying income tax. Essentially this is a tax free gift.

Non Grantor Trust

A Non-Grantor Trust is where the donor of the assets relinquishes all control within the trust. The donor of the trust funds is not a beneficiary or a trustee and has no input on how the funds are disbursed or controlled.  When the donor establishes a Non-Grantor Trust (aka irrevocable trust) they give up their rights to amend, revoke, or terminate the trust as this now becomes the functions of the trustee(s) either acting by themselves or with a Trust Protector.

Although the assets used to establish the trust were once owned by the donor, they are now owned by the trust. Any income being generated from the assets now is the sole responsibility of the trust.  As is with the Grantor Trust, any distribution to a beneficiary must now the proper IRS forms issued and provided to the recipient.

When a non-grantor trust is established it becomes a taxable entity and a Federal Employer Identification Number is issued. This also means that an income tax return needs to be filed on behalf of the trust each year.

Understanding tax benefits and pitfalls of a trust and putting together a trust which is most beneficial for your personal situation is best left to an attorney who can explain the differences in trusts and customize your Estate Plan. Contact Daniel A Baron of Baron Law Cleveland, Ohio at 1-216-573-3723.

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.

Living Will

Do I need a Living Will?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney, Daniel A. Baron, offers the following regarding living wills:

Before you can answer this question you must first understand what a Living will is and what purpose it serves.

A Living Will is one form of Advance Directive which clearly defines your wishes for medical care should the following occur:

A Living Will clearly states your health care intentions.  This document allows you to make decisions while still cognitive such as:

  • Whether or not you wish to be put on life support, even if for a very short time
  • Would you would like to receive pain medication of any kind
  • Is it you desire to have any nutrition available by means of a feeding tube

The Living Will document also allows you to list any further specific instructions for your care if you become fully incapacitated.

Another form to consider securing in conjunction with a Living Will is a Health Care Proxy which is a specific Power of Attorney. A Health Care Power of Attorney authorizes a specific person you have chosen to act on your behalf to make all medical decisions (or to make sure that your medical wishes in your Living Will that you have set forth are followed), in the eventuality that you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself.

It might be in your best interested to have both a Living Will and a Power of Attorney which will set forth comprehensive guidance when it comes to your medical care in the end stages of life.

Things to consider when completing these documents:

  • Who do I want and trust to make my health care decisions when I am no longer capable of making them on my own?
  • What kind of medical treatment DO I or DON’T I want?
  • How comfortable do I want to be when my life’s journey is coming to an end?
  • How do I want people to treat me?
  • What do I want my loved ones to know?

Having a Living Will is only one part to a comprehensive estate plan.  For information regarding living wills, trusts, power of attorney, or a pour-over will, contact Dan Baron of Baron Law to make an appointment at 216-573-3723.

Cleveland, Ohio Attorney

What is Business Succession?

Whether you’re planning for retirement or the life of your business after your death, it’s imperative to develop a business succession plan to sooner rather than later.   There is no “one plan fits all” when it comes to developing a succession plan for your business.  And given that the economy is constantly changing, it isn’t surprising small business owners focus their energies on business survival, future growth, and even remaining active in business after retirement.

Business succession is about three things (1) Estate planning; (2) Retirement; and (3) Risk Management.

Estate Planning

Your estate plan should be incorporated into your business succession plan.  What will happen to your company assets after you die?  Who will run your business?  If you want to provide for your family using your business assets, you should consider at the very least having a last will and testament.  Carefully drafting your will allows you to select desired beneficiaries, elect an executor, and transfer your assets through probate.  Your family will be going through a difficult time.  Setting up a last will and testament in advance helps your family during that difficult time.


When thinking about retirement, it’s important to consider your options when selling your business.  Will you sell with a lump sum, installments, mix, employee buy-out, or merger?  There are numerous options when planning for your retirement and taking advantage of the business you built.  Thus, business succession is about planning for your exit strategy.  To learn more about your options, visit this article.

Risk Management

Business succession is about limiting your risk.  If you have partners within your company, you should be aware of the risks involved.  For example, if your partner gets divorced, their spouse is entitled to the partner’s share in the business through the divorce proceedings.  If your partner dies, you can now be partners with their spouse or estate.  One option to avoid this potential risk is to create a buy-sell agreement through a cross purchase agreement or entity purchase agreement.

Business succession is an important idea that every business owner should consider.  Contact your Cleveland, Ohio business succession and estate planning attorney for more information on how to set up your plan.  You may also consider contacting Cleveland, Ohio law firm Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723.


Business succession plan

Creating a Business Succession Plan – Cross Purchase Agreements

Creating a Business Succession Plan – Cross Purchase Agreements

Whether you’re planning for retirement or tragedy, having a business succession plan is imperative for business owners.  Big business or small, planning for the financial stability of your partners and employees can mean the difference between business as usual and leaving your spouse bankrupt.   Moreover, understanding the value of your business can affect your decision to sell, retire, or leave a legacy.  Cleveland, Ohio estate and business planning attorney Dan Baron has the following remarks to help you secure your financial future.

One way to create a succession plan is through a “cross purchase agreement.” Two concepts stand at the root of all cross-purchase buy-sell agreements: protection and fairness. A surviving business owner wants to be protected from interference by outsiders when a co-owner dies. Concurrently, a business owner wants to assure fair treatment of his or her heirs in the event of death.

Step One – Choose a Successor

Unless you’re selling your business – where you would normally sell to the highest bidder – picking a successor isn’t easy.  Many factors determine whether a succession plan is necessary and sometimes it can be as easy as passing the business down through a family member.  When choosing a successor, there may be several partners or family members from which the owner will have to choose, each with various strengths and weaknesses to be weighed and evaluated.  In this case, lasting resentment by some or all of those not chosen may result, no matter what choice is ultimately made.  Outside of a family business, partners who do not need or want a successor may simply sell their portion of the business to their partners in a buy-sell agreement. Talk with a Cleveland, Ohio estate planning or business succession attorney to learn more.

Step Two – Evaluate the Value of the Business

As mentioned, your succession plan may be as simple as selling it off.  But no matter whom the intended successor may be business owners must establish a set dollar value for the business, or their share of it. This can be done via appraisal by a certified public accountant (CPA) or by an arbitrary agreement between all partners involved.  Tax attorneys and business succession attorneys may also assist in the business evaluation process.  Estate planning lawyers and accountants use various metrics for evaluation business including sales, stock value, liquidity, profits, reoccurring contracts, EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization), cash flow, and more.   In addition, your estate planning attorney may evaluate your business using a number of other methods including asset based or income based evaluations.  For corporations, where the portion of the company consists solely of shares of publicly traded stock, the valuation of the owner’s interest may be determined by the stock’s current market value.

Step Three – Cross Purchase Agreements

A cross-purchase agreement is a tool used by business owners to assure that “business as usual” continues if co-owner dies. Like an entity or stock redemption agreement, the cross-purchase buy-sell agreement stipulates that:

  • A deceased owner’s estate must sell the business interest to surviving owners, and
  • The surviving owners will buy that interest.

There are no exceptions—the estate must sell and the survivors must buy.

Creating a cross purchase agreement is commonly used a usually starts with creating a life insurance policy. Once a set dollar value has been determined for the business, life insurance is purchased on all partners in the business. Then, in the event that a partner passes on before ending his relationship with his partners, the death benefit proceeds will be used to buy out the deceased partner’s share of the business and distribute it equally among the remaining partners.

A cross purchase agreement is structured so that each partner buys and owns a policy on each of the other partners in the business.  Each partner functions as both owner and beneficiary on the same policy, with each other partner being the insured; therefore, when one partner dies, the face value of each policy on the deceased partner is paid out to the remaining partners, who will then use the policy proceeds to buy the deceased partner’s share of the business at a previously agreed-upon price.

Example: How a Cross-Purchase Agreement Works

Let’s say for example that there are three partners who each own equal shares of a business worth $3 million, so each partner\’s share is valued at $1 million.  The partners are getting older and want to ensure that the business is passed on smoothly in the event one of them dies. Thus, they enter into a cross-purchase agreement. The agreement requires that each partner take out a $500,000 policy on each of the other two partners. Now, if one of the partners dies, the other two partners will each be paid $500,000, which they must use to buy out the deceased partner\’s share of the business.

One limitation to be noted here is that, for a business with a large number of partners (five to 10 partners or more), it becomes impractical for each partner to maintain separate policies on each of the others. There can also be substantial inequity between partners in terms of underwriting and, as a result, the cost of each policy.

Cross purchase agreements are just one of many ways to ensure a business’s legacy.  For more information on estate planning or business succession, contact Cleveland, Ohio attorney Daniel A. Baron at Baron Law.  Contact a lawyer today by calling 216-573-3723.  You will speak directly with an Ohio attorney who can help you with all your estate planning needs.