Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC

Danbury Legal Blog

About charitable trusts

Connecticut residents with favorite charities may consider including charitable trusts in their estate plans. Charitable trusts are efficient philanthropic tools that can provide favorable tax incentives for donors. While charitable trusts adhere to the same tenets as other types of trusts and are regulated by the same concepts, they are very distinctive in certain ways that individuals should be mindful of.

A charitable trust can be defined as a trust that has a charitable goal. Instead of designating a corporation or person as a beneficiary, the grantors are required to describe the purpose of the charitable trusts. Charitable purposes may include advancing a religion or education, promoting health or governmental goals, relieving poverty and other purposes that can be advantageous to the community.

The basics of trademark protections

Brand identity is an essential part of growing many types of businesses, and trademarks are one of the legal tools used to help protect those identities. These protections, which used to be actual physical imprints, date back to early societies for use on high-quality artisan goods. Today, the trademark, indicated with a TM symbol, represents the legal protection of both physical and digital products. They are most commonly used on company logos for big corporations in Connecticut and throughout the U.S.

Almost anything can be considered a trademark, but their strength is determined by a variety of factors. A company with a completely original name, like Xerox for example, has a very strong defense of their trademark. However, a company with a common name, like Apple, has a much weaker defense since the word apple was commonly used long before the company started. They can, however, trademark their logos or specific product names if they are more original.

How private is a trust?

You may fall into the category of many people who want to ensure that someone handles their estates properly after their demise. Fortunately, you can utilize a number of estate planning tools to make sure that your assets go to the desired parties and that protective measures work to prevent unnecessary conflicts. You can even go so far as to keep information out of undesirable hands.

If you create a will, that document goes into the public record. As a result, anyone who wishes could obtain a copy of your will to read. If that does not seem appealing to you, you may find it helpful to know that trusts do not go on public record, and only certain people can obtain copies and read the terms.

Trust choices change with rising interest rates

Trusts are an important part of an estate planning strategy for many in Connecticut and across the country. They can offer lifetime tax benefits as well as a way to pass more structured gifts to a person's beneficiaries. However, the types of trusts that people choose to create may shift due to the rise in interest rates. While interest rates have been historically low for the past 10 years, they are currently rising, a trend that is expected to continue to dominate.

As interest rates change, people may opt for different types of trusts that have been little-used over the past 10 years because they provide the greatest gain in a high interest rate environment. On the other hand, people considering a grantor retained annuity trust or charitable lead annuity trust may want to act quickly in order to preserve current interest rates.

Special needs trust

An integral part of estate planning is the establishment and management of trusts. In addition to their tax benefits, trusts can help provide for their beneficiaries, ensuring financial security for the foreseeable future. For instance, a donor in Connecticut could fund a trust, and the trustee could transfer these funds to the beneficiary in accordance with the donor's wishes.

A unique type of fund that aims to assist people with special needs is a special needs trust, the benefit of which lies in its ability to manage assets for the beneficiary without compromising their access to benefits they get from the government. With that in mind, special needs trusts can be categorized into one of three types: a first-party trust, a third-party trust and a pooled trust.

Boy band Menudo resolves trademark dispute

Connecticut fans of Latin music may be interested to learn that after two years of litigation, boy band group Menudo will now be able to resume its relaunch efforts. The group's name was initially transferred back in 2016 but wasn't able to resume its launching efforts due to a trademark dispute. The Puerto Rican group resolved the matter in the United States District Court in Miami. The ruling states that the trademark Menudo belongs exclusively to Menudo International, LLC.

The musicians acquired the trademark in May of 2016 but found themselves in the middle of a legal battle over the name. Cristina Bruan and In Miami Productions challenged the rights of the name Menudo.

Do you have a plan for if you become incapacitated?

In going about your daily routine, you are unlikely to stop and think, "I wonder if today is the day something bad is going to happen to me. I wonder if today is the day that I won't make it home it one piece." No one wants to think about that kind of stuff, but at the same time, no one knows when incapacitation or death may strike. That is why it is important to be prepared now for when it does.

How can you prepare for incapacitation? It all starts by asking yourself a couple of questions. Who will make medical decisions for me? Who will handle my financial affairs? If you fail to assign someone these duties, a judge may have the opportunity to make the decision for you.

Avoid these errors when estate planning

Since planning for an estate can be difficult, it's no wonder that so many Connecticut residents aren't prepared for the future. In a recent survey administered by Wells Fargo, the number of Americans lacking important documents was high. Approximately 40 percent of Americans don't have the necessary estate plan documents in place to address potentially serious financial or health challenges.

These errors can be detrimental when in a vulnerable state. One in five Americans age 65 or older have reported being victims of financial abuse. However, proper planning can shield a person from these issues.

Why a pour-over will could be useful

Connecticut residents who are planning their estate might want to consider creating a pour-over will as an accompaniment to a revocable living trust. The purpose of a pour-over will is to take care of any assets that a person does not place in the trust. It is best used as a kind of backup policy in case a person acquires assets after creating the trust or forgets to place some in it.

Essentially, a pour-over will names the trust as the beneficiary for all assets that are not already set up to go to people through other means such as a beneficiary designation. If a person does not have a will and assets that are not directed toward other beneficiaries, the state decides what happens to them. This could result in assets going to relatives from whom a person is estranged or in a person's wishes otherwise not being carried out.

Important reasons to have an estate plan

More than half of all adults do not have wills. There are several reasons an estate plan may be important for people in Connecticut even if they have few assets. While there are template documents available, it is typically better to work with an attorney to create an estate plan and choose the right strategies for the estate.

Reducing or avoiding probate fees and taxes is one reason to create an estate plan. Asset protection is another reason. For example, a person might purchase additional insurance to cover assets in case of an automobile accident. A person might also want to know how assets can be protected from the need to spend them down in order to qualify for Medicaid.

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Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC
44 Old Ridgebury Road
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Danbury, CT 06810

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