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Get Five Times the FDIC Insurance Against Bank Collapse by Use of Your Living Trust

Roger McClure Dec. 2, 2009

Bank Failures. There have been over 100 bank failures this year and many more are expected next year. If you have deposits in a bank, what happens to your money when the bank fails? [click here for a list of bank failures throughout United States] Because of the run on banks in the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Congress established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to provide insurance when a bank fails. If another bank does not take over the failing bank and guarantee all of the deposits of the failed bank, then the FDIC steps in and pays the consumers who had deposits in the failed bank up to the maximum insurance limit then in effect. Until January 1, 2014, when the maximum insurance reverts to $100,000, the present maximum insurance is $250,000 per person.

Auntie Mae. Auntie Mae is worried that she may live longer than her money. She keeps nearly everything in cash and money market accounts. Her life savings, everything she inherited from her sisters and deceased husband totals about $800,000 which she has in her checking, savings, money market and other accounts. She put $100,000 in eight separate branch offices of a local bank, thinking that would protect her. She didn’t want to have to deal with several banks which she did not know and trust. She was afraid to put her daughter’s name on the accounts because her daughter is a pediatrician and although her doctor daughter has not been sued, pediatricians are often targets of lawsuits. When her bank failed and closed its doors, the FDIC paid her $250,000, the maximum insurance under this federal guarantee system, and she lost $550,000, most of her life savings. Auntie Mae will have to get a job at Wal Mart because she does not now have enough money to live on.

The Living Trust Solution. For years, there was confusion and uncertainty as to how FDIC insurance worked for accounts held in living trusts. This was clarified last year by the FDIC and there is now a “five-times” rule. Under the five times rule, if you have five or more beneficiaries of your estate in your trust, then you receive at a minimum five times the current maximum level of insurance on all of your accounts at the bank. With the five times rule, you will have a minimum of $1,250,000 of FDIC insurance for accounts held in your living trust at a single bank. You can have more than $1,250,000 in FDIC insurance with a living trust, but if there are over five beneficiaries, the FDIC will look at the actual amounts left to all of the beneficiaries and limit the amount by the lesser of $250,000 per beneficiary or the actual amount given. There is no extra charge to you for this additional FDIC insurance. The $1,250,000 of insurance will take care of most accounts. After 2013, this is scheduled to reduce to $500,000.

How it works. Auntie Mae puts all of her checking, savings and bank money market accounts into the name of her living trust. She does this by going to her bank and having the ownership of the account changed to the name of her living trust. Auntie Mae has left 50% of her estate to her daughter Ellen, 20% to her nephew, $10,000 to the aide who helps her each week, $10,000 to the Salvation Army and $10,000 to a friend. This means she has five beneficiaries; the old requirement of family members as the only qualifying beneficiaries is gone. As a result, the bank and FDIC now provide her accounts up to $1,250,000 in FDIC insurance even though all of her accounts are in one bank. She does not have to spread her money into different accounts at different banks, which could lead to great confusion and complexity. If her bank went under, all of her $800,000 will be protected by FDIC insurance.

Transfer Your Bank Accounts to Your Trust Now. Many people put off putting their personal savings and checking accounts into the name of their living trust. Now, you have a very strong reason for doing this-getting five times the FDIC insurance.