Article: 18
David G. Shaftel
Law Offices of David G. Shaftel, PC, Anchorage, Alaska
© 2003. All rights reserved.

The Alaska state legislature has adopted a version of the 1997 Uniform Principal and Income Act. Alaska modeled its version after the Pennsylvania approach to the Act, which Pennsylvania enacted in 2002.

The Alaska version includes the trustee's power to adjust between principal and income, contained in Section 104 of the Uniform Act. Alternatively, a trustee may release the power to adjust and then convert the trust to a unitrust. The trustee must give notice of the planned conversion to both income beneficiaries and the remainderpersons. If a beneficiary objects to the conversion, the trustee may petition the court to approve it. Alternatively, a beneficiary may petition the court to require the trustee to convert to a unitrust. Once converted, “income” in the governing instrument means an annual distribution equal to four percent of the trust assets. The trustee or a beneficiary may petition the court to select a different payout percentage. The Alaska Act also has included Pennsylvania's provisions which allow a fully charitable trust to convert to a unitrust.

The Alaska Act also varies from the uniform act by requiring that pecuniary amounts receive a share of net income from the date of death of a decedent, in the case of an estate, or the date of death of a settlor or specified event, in the case of a revocable or irrevocable trust. Like all of the default provisions in the 1997 Uniform Act, this provision may be superseded by the governing instrument. Alaska repealed its statute which required that interest be paid on general pecuniary devises since the Internal Revenue Service has taken the position that such interest would be a nondeductible personal interest expense. (Reg. § 1.663(c)-5, example 7.)

A new provision in Alaska's act contains special rules for charitable remainder unitrusts. These provisions state that the increase in value of various specified types of assets will not be considered income until the trustee receives cash. The goal of these provisions is to allow a trustee of a net income makup charitable remainder unitrust to defer the date when income from the trust needs to be distributed.

Senate Bill 87 has passed both houses of the Alaska legislature. The bill has been sent to Governor Murkowski for signature. The new Act takes effect September 1, 2003, and applies, except as otherwise expressly provided in the governing instrument, to a trust existing on or after the effective date of the Act, and to the estate of a decedent who dies on or after the effective date of the Act.