Understanding See-Through Trusts for IRA Beneficiaries


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Welcome to our exploration of one of the most complex aspects of estate planning: see-through trusts for IRA beneficiaries. If you’re an IRA owner considering how to pass on your assets to loved ones efficiently and with control, this topic is crucial. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of combining IRAs with trusts and the potential pitfalls to avoid.

Why IRAs and Trusts Don’t Mix Easily:

Firstly, let’s address the fundamental issue: IRAs cannot be placed directly into a trust during the owner’s lifetime. This restriction means strategic planning is essential to ensure your intentions are fulfilled posthumously without triggering unintended tax consequences.

The Role of See-Through Trusts:

A see-through trust is designed to extend the IRA’s tax-deferred status over the beneficiary’s lifetime, preserving its benefits. This setup allows income to pass through the trust directly to the beneficiary, who then pays taxes based on their individual tax rate rather than the higher trust tax rates.

Common Misconceptions and Risks:

Many estate plans falter due to misconceptions about how IRAs and trusts interact. Improperly structured trusts can lead to significant tax liabilities or premature distributions, undermining the original intent of preserving assets for future generations.

Benefits of See-Through Trusts:

  1. Post-Death Control: For those seeking to exert influence over how beneficiaries manage inherited assets, a see-through trust offers a structured approach.
  2. Creditor Protection: Shielding assets from potential creditors ensures your legacy remains intact for intended beneficiaries.
  3. Special Needs Planning: Particularly crucial for beneficiaries with disabilities, where a well-crafted trust can safeguard eligibility for government benefits.

Challenges and Considerations:

Despite their advantages, see-through trusts introduce complexity and cost. Setting up and maintaining these trusts requires legal expertise and ongoing financial oversight to ensure compliance with changing tax laws and beneficiary designations.

Expert Recommendations and Resources:

Navigating the nuances of IRA beneficiary planning demands collaboration with knowledgeable professionals. Consult with attorneys well-versed in both estate law and tax implications to craft a see-through trust that aligns with your long-term goals.


In conclusion, while see-through trusts offer compelling advantages for IRA beneficiaries, they require careful planning and expert guidance to avoid potential pitfalls. Stay informed, consult trusted advisors, and make decisions that safeguard your financial legacy effectively.

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Understanding See-Through Trusts for IRA Beneficiaries


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Understanding the Upcoming 2026 Income Tax Increase: What You Need to Know

A Brief History of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

In today’s Cardinal lesson, we’re discussing the significant changes coming to income tax rates in 2026. This isn’t a proposal but a law already set in motion. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed in 2017 and effective from January 1, 2018, brought about substantial reductions in income taxes. However, these reductions were only funded for eight years, meaning they will expire at the end of 2025.

What Changes to Expect in 2026

As of January 1, 2026, the tax rates will revert to their 2017 levels, adjusted for inflation. Key changes include:

  • The 12% bracket will increase to 15%.
  • The 22% bracket will rise to 25%.
  • The top rate of 37% will revert to 39.6%.

Not Just a Proposal

It’s crucial to understand that this change is already the law. Many people mistakenly believe that the tax rate increases are still under discussion. However, unless Congress enacts new legislation, these higher rates will take effect as scheduled.

Implications for Your Financial Planning

Impact on IRAs and 401(k)s

With the current lower tax rates, now is the time to consider strategies like Roth conversions. By converting funds from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA now, you can potentially save a significant amount in taxes over the long term.

Why Planning Ahead is Crucial

For individuals with substantial retirement savings, understanding these changes is vital for effective tax planning. The window to take advantage of the current lower tax rates is closing, and planning ahead can make a significant difference.

Case Studies and Planning Opportunities

Hans Scheil and Tom Griffith discuss specific case studies and planning strategies in our latest video. These examples illustrate how different scenarios can be managed effectively:

  • Case Study 1: A married couple with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 in 2024 can convert part of their IRA to a Roth IRA, taking advantage of the lower current tax rates.
  • Case Study 2: High-net-worth individuals with large IRAs can save substantial amounts in taxes by planning conversions over the next two years.

Estate Tax Considerations

The TCJA also doubled the estate tax exemption, which will revert in 2026. This change can significantly impact high-net-worth individuals, making estate planning more crucial than ever.

Action Steps to Take Now

  • Review Your Current Tax Situation: Analyze how the upcoming changes will affect your finances.
  • Consider Roth Conversions: Take advantage of the lower tax rates before they expire.
  • Plan for Estate Taxes: Assess your estate plans in light of the changing exemptions.


The changes coming in 2026 are significant, but with proper planning and informed decision-making, you can navigate these changes effectively. Watch our video for more detailed insights and personalized advice.

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Contact us today with any questions, concerns, or just to stay connected.

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Have questions? Contact us today.

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