The donor may wish to make gifts in a way that the donor (or the donor’s spouse) could retain some use of the assets in case needed as a “rainy day” fund. A popular way of using the increased gift exemption may be for a donor to make gifts to a “lifetime access trust” for the benefit of the donor’s spouse (and possibly children). The trust could be designed to give as much control and flexibility as possible to the surviving spouse without creating tax or creditor concerns.
If one spouse creates a lifetime trust for the other spouse, neither spouses’ creditors should be able to reach the assets in the trust. If both spouses create trusts that are not reciprocal of each other, both trusts may be protected from claims of the spouses’ creditors.
People establish irrevocable trusts that include spouses for many reasons: