Have you placed your home in a trust? Did you forget to tell your insurance agent?
That could result in no coverage and could cost you upward of hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's because your home is no longer insured, since the owner—the trust—is not on the policy.
Sound confusing? Just wait until you have a claim. An insurance policy is a contract based on the information provided on the original application. Making changes to property ownership without advising the insurance company can invalidate the policy because it conflicts with the basis on which the insurer issued coverage.
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Trying to avoid estate taxes by not insuring your valuables and collectibles now can prove costly if you have a loss. They need special coverage, and not insuring them provides no protection.
Some people don't want a "paper trail" on valuable heirlooms because they're afraid that will increase the value of their estate and result in higher taxes.
However, under current estate rules (and taking advantage of the estate tax credit), a married couple can pass up to $10 million to their kids, so there may be no need to hide assets by not listing them on your insurance policy. However, most homeowner policies require a "floater rider" to provide higher limits for specifically mentioned valuables. For example, a $20,000 diamond watch could be excluded or limited to a value of $1,000 or less without that extra coverage.
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Also, if you think you may have an estate-tax problem, consider putting your life insurance in a trust. Most people don't realize that while the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is not subject to income taxes, the value of the proceeds can be included in your estate unless steps are taken to remove it from the estate while you're alive.
One common technique is to set up an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. That's where the trust owns the policy and is its beneficiary, and the insurance premiums are "gifted" each year to the trust to pay for the coverage. Trust beneficiaries can be specified, as with a life insurance policy.
But don't wait to establish the trust, as there is a three-year tolling period when life insurance policies are transferred to a trust. A trusted financial advisor can help you.