According to Dana Shilling, if a trust is too complex, too expensive or creates tax problems, there are some alternatives to helping your client make the most of them:

? To get assets out of the estate, make outright gifts during life. Remember, this does mean your client will lose these assets, as well as income from them and gains from their potential appreciation.

? A giving program (regular gifts of up to the annual exclusion each year) can reduce a potentially taxable estate.

? To provide ongoing income for a surviving spouse, beef up the life insurance portfolio so funds can be paid under a settlement option.

? For small sums, and times when preserving flexibility is desirable, name the beneficiary of the funds in a bank account using a Totten (bankbook) trust or a payable on death (POD) account.

? To assure continuing income, invest in a commercial or charitable annuity.

? Consult the planned giving departments of your clients’ favorite charities for hints about using charitable giving as an estate planning tool.