Trust and Estate Counsel

Tennessee Estate Planning Law

Insight and commentary on estate planning issues impacting affluent residents of Tennessee

Switch ILIT Solves Estate Planning Dilemma for Wife in Second Marriage

Recently, a client told me “as is so often the case second marriages, the value of the wife’s estate that she can leave her children will vary significantly depending on whether she predeceases her husband.” My client’s observation is so accurate. I have encountered this dilemma when working with other clients, but had not understood that this problem affects numerous second marriages.

My client’s husband is very wealthy and plans to make a generous bequest to her in his Will. Furthermore, they jointly own a valuable house.

If her husband dies first, she will own the house and will receive the bequest from her husband’s Will. If she dies first, she will have neither the house nor the bequest.

She is comfortable with the amount that she will be able to leave her children if she survives her husband. However, she is concerned that the inheritance for her children will be insufficient if she predeceases her husband.

The solution that I proposed works as follows:

The couple establishes an irrevocable life insurance trust (“ILIT”) that will buy a last to die insurance policy on the lives of the husband and wife. If the wife dies first, her children will be the beneficiaries of the ILIT. If the husband dies first, his children will be the beneficiaries of the ILIT.
The parties agreed to split the premium payments during their joint lives. The will of the first to die will make a bequest to the trust that is sufficient to pay premiums during the period of survivorship.

The “Switch ILIT” solved my client’s dilemma of making sure that her children will be well provided for regardless of whether she predeceases her husband.