Category Archives: Asset Protection

Asset Protection

Complicated State Laws Make Estate Planning Essential

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning for the future is not merely an antidote for the wealthy looking to escape taxes. Probate, property transfer, life insurance, annuities and inheritance can represent chaos without proper planning. Throw in family members, the Internal Revenue Service, state laws and legal officials and you have a bubbling cauldron of confusion. Estate planning gives you the power to manage your resources without interference.

By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death.

Your age, health, heritage, lifestyle, life stage, goals and other factors determine the special needs of estate planning. For example, you can have a small estate and may require specific people to receive particular items. Probably a simple will is all you need. Or you can have many responsibilities that require complex planning with sophisticated strategies to protect family members.

But keep in mind, a disability can affect anyone at any time and this is more than enough reason to consult a lawyer about drafting a will or estate planning.

Plans that Fit Every Family

The most basic plan that benefits every family is a living trust. Trusts and wills are the primary tools of estate planning as both allow you to decide who inherits your assets when you die, and who will administer, manage and distribute your estate when you’re gone.

The most common type of living trust, also referred to as family trust, is one that is revocable, which means that the customer has the power to amend or revoke the trust. The power of revocation or amendment is important to the customer, because we live in a changing world where financial and family circumstances often face modifications.

Advantages of a Living Trust

By funding a trust with your assets, you transfer those assets out of your name into the trust. Any new assets you purchase, you simply transfer those into the trust. You will become the trustee and the assets will be under your control. If you decide to move assets you do so as the sole trustee.

Upon your death, your successor trustee will take control, according to your written directions, without any involvement of the probate court.

The main advantage of a living trust is that the family avoids the need for costly and inconvenient court administration (Probate).

• Families can save thousands of dollars in the long run.

• Living trusts act as an organized administration that provides the privilege to carry out estate planning in private.

• Living trusts are private matters; probate cases are public record and open to inspection by any person.

Nuts and Bolts of a Revocable and Irrevocable Living Trust

Revocable trust, also referred to as a Living Trust is flexible and you can modify the provisions at any time. In other words, if you need to make changes down the road or have second thoughts like a change of beneficiary or switch trustees, you can easily modify the terms. The pitfall of a revocable trust is that with so much flexibility, funded assets could be considered your personal assets, which leave you vulnerable to creditors.

An irrevocable trust cannot be cancelled nor any assets removed once the documents are signed unless all beneficiaries and the court agree to dissolve the trust. It’s often impossible to accomplish this without good reason. However, in certain situations, an attorney may be able to request an amendment if there are changes to the beneficiaries.

Advantages of an Irrevocable Trust

Irrevocable trust offer several distinct advantages, especially for long-term health care planning; however, to really benefit without neglecting unforeseen elements, it’s wise to communicate with a Florida attorney. Consider the benefits of an irrevocable trust;

• Asset protection
• Shield assets from eligibility criteria when applying for government benefits like Medicaid and Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI)
• Possibility of avoidance of federal gift tax

Flexibility

The centerpiece of living trusts is often the special considerations, managed according to your pre-specified rules. These trusts can incorporate special features to handle various family dynamics.

These special approaches may include special needs trusts for the care of children or disabled family members, trusts for pets, custom arrangements for a “blended family,” often due to a remarriage. These trusts can specify guidelines that include children from previous marriages, adopted children, stepchildren, etc.., and provisions that protect the “waste” that of a child’s inheritance from creditors, and other fraudulent individuals.

Protecting Assets

Living trusts accomplishes the essential purpose of a will. Assets transfer to your beneficiaries smoothly, without the burden of probate. By avoiding probate with a living trust, it is almost impossible to contest your pre-specified directions.

Deciding Who Gets What and When

Many parents impose restrictions when estate planning for the future. Some provisions are not overly restrictive, but many protect the child’s inheritance, however big or small, until they reach a certain age.

• Limiting access to funds until child reaches anywhere from 18 to 25
• Giving beneficiaries a portion of their inherited principal at varied intervals
• Declaring who will share real property, and enforcing strict guidelines to protect from outside influences

Why You Still Need a Will

Seven out of ten individuals die without a will and most people don’t understand if you die intestate (without a will) your state will distribute your property according to state law. In addition, without a will family members will probably pay more than necessary in federal and state taxes.

Even if you have a living trust, a will is desirable to provide for the guardian of children, in the event there are no surviving parents or grandparents.

Many individuals go to great lengths to discuss their requirements after death and yet they neglect to enforce their plans legally, often causing their family to weather the burden of probate. Consulting with a Florida lawyer will ensure you haven’t neglected any essential decisions. Estate planning for the future is simply taking control to protect your assets and detail your wishes before someone else makes the decisions for you.

The Importance of an Experienced Florida Probate Attorney

grieving womanIn Florida, once an individual owns assets during the time of his or her death, the process of transferring these assets to the person’s beneficiaries is known as probate. The process of probate can be very overwhelming and confusing especially since the family members and beneficiaries of the deceased are grieving. Because of this, hiring an expert and experienced probate attorney can be a very good move. In order to start a probate case, it is important to prepare a file a Petition for Administration with the Florida Probate Court, which is situated in the country where the individual resides during the time of death. The filing will start the formal administration process.

The Florida probate cases can be handled in two different ways. If the assets of the decedent are worth more than $75,000, it is essential to proceed to the formal probate administration process. Nonetheless, if the assets are valued less than $75,000, then it is possible to use a summary administration in order to make the process less complicated. The process of the formal administration probate will also include a personal representative and Letters of administration. However, in the state of Florida, formal administration is considered to be the most common method of probate.

However, a legal process of going through the probate court is always necessary regardless of the probate method that is used. This is why hiring a probate lawyer or attorney is considered necessary. The process will include a lot of legal issues that any lay man would find confusing and perplexing to understand. The attorney will be present to help guide the client throughout the process and handle all the important and necessary requirements.

In other cases, once the time of death of a person has already been two years or more ago regardless of the value of the assets, a summary administration is highly possible. However, there are also times when the estate is required to go through formal administration even is the worth of the assets are under $75,000.Once an estate is involved in a legal matter, a formal administration process or method is necessary. This is also applicable once the decedent owes any money to creditors. These are the important matters that should be discussed with the Florida probate lawyer.

Each and every probate case is considered unique. This is why it is difficult to know when a case will be tied up to the probate. However, the amount of time that a probate administrator will take will also depend on how diligent he or she is in making the process move. There are times when it is already necessary to sell the real estate in order for the probate to be settled. Aside from this, a contested will or any disputed claims can also prolong the entire probate process. Nonetheless, an average case can take approximately 5 to 6 months to finish.

There are a lot of things that should be taken into account once an estate goes to probate. It is good to know that an expert and experienced probate attorney from Florida can be present to help make the process simpler. In other words, the probate process is something that should be left in the hands of a good and reputable attorney.

Why This Name for an Estate Planning, Probate and General Asset Protection Web Site

Doughadeer.com is indeed a strange choice for a domain name for a Web Site that deals with legal  issues related to asset protection, planning an estate and probate administration, but it was a cute name and it was available.

The truth is I didn’t exactly know what topics I would fill these pages with when I purchased the domain. I just knew I liked the sound of it.

When I gave it some thought and played with the name for a while, I realized that it would be a perfect domain in which to publish articles explaining the nature of proper estate planning and protection, after all “dough is a common enough slang for money.  As for the “deer” part, it’ no doubt would have better to have purchased a domain with “dear” instead of “deer ” in the title, but it just wasn’t available and to paraphrase a former sociopathic Secretary of Defense, we have to go to Web with the name we have not with the one we wanted.

And so dough-a-deer is a Web Site about protecting your assets, establishing a smart and secure estate plan and handling probate should the need arise (which it won’t if you handle the estate planning properly).

My  inspiration and my source of information is the staff at the Fort Lauderdale based law firm of Wild Felice And Partners. This area of law is their specialty. They can be reached at (954) 944-2855.

Forgive the plug, but they’ve earned it.