On June 4, 2011, Governor Sandoval signed Senate Bill 221 which strengthened Nevada’s already outstanding self-settled spendthrift trust laws. The most beneficial aspect of the new legislation relates to changing the situs of existing asset protection trusts to Nevada without restarting the statute of limitations period. Nevada has two primary advantages over the other 13 states which permit self-settled, spendthrift trusts. First, Nevada is the only state without a statutory exception allowing creditors to pierce the trust. Second, Nevada has the shortest statute of limitations period to protect a transfer to the trust.
The new legislation makes the following changes effective October 1, 2011:
1. More Trust Types (CRT, QPRT, GRAT) Qualify
The new bill specifically allows charitable remainder trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, and grantor retained annuity trust to qualify under the statute. Also, the bill allows the settlor to use real or personal property owned by the trust without limiting the scope of the protection provided by the spendthrift trust.
2. Tacking of Statute of Limitations Period for Trusts Migrating to Nevada
This new provision allows settlors who have established asset protection trusts in other states with less favorable laws to change the situs to Nevada without restarting the statute of limitations.
3. Limited Trustee Liability
Nevada law already protects an advisor to the settlor or trustee of a spendthrift trust from claims unless the claimant can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the advisor knowingly and in bad faith violated Nevada law, and that his actions directly caused damage to the claimant. The new legislation now also protects the trustee of a spendthrift trust unless the claimant can make the same showing as to the trustee.
4. “Last in, First out”
The bill clarifies that later transfers in trust are disregarded for purposes of determining whether a creditor may bring an action with respect to an earlier transfer to the trust. The new language makes clear that a more recent
transfer for which the statute of limitations period has not run will not spoil
the whole trust.
5. Decanting Spendthrift Trusts
Now, the trustee of a self-settled spendthrift trust may decant the trust into another spendthrift trust without affecting the statute of limitations period applicable to the assets in the original trust. The date the property was initially transferred to the original spendthrift trust will be the deemed transfer date for the property even after it has been decanted into the second spendthrift trust.
6. Limitation of Actions Against Spendthrift Trust
This provision clarifies that no action of any kind may be brought at law or in equity against the trustee of a spendthrift trust if at the date the action is brought an action by a creditor with respect to a transfer to the spendthrift trust would be barred. Prior to this, questions arose whether Nevada’s four year statute of limitations for fraudulent transfers applied in lieu of the two year statute of limitations period for spendthrift trusts. In addition, a creditor may not bring an action with respect to a transfer of property to a spendthrift trust unless the creditor can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the transfer (i) was a fraudulent transfer or (ii) “violates a legal obligation owed to the creditor under a contract or a valid court order that is legally enforceable by that creditor.”
7. Unauthorized Agreements by Trustee are Void
SB 221 clarifies that the settlor only has rights and powers conferred specifically in the instrument, and any agreement between the settlor and trustee attempting to grant or expand those rights is void. This provision solidifies the use of the NV self-settled spendthrift trust as a completed gift trust, which will bolster its use as an estate tax avoidance method.
You can contact an experienced Nevada estate planning attorney at 775-688-3000.