Tag Archives: estate plan

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.

5 Elements of a Good Estate Plan

Everybody would die one day. Man is different from other animals because he knows beforehand that he will die someday. Knowing this is very important to plan for the future. What will happen to your loved ones after your demise. Sure, no one likes to dwell on their demise, but you must plan ahead to avoid any confusion or legal issues after you have gone.

mother and daughters

What will happen to all that you have collected during the lifetime, in the guise of properties, stocks, bonds, securities, fixed deposits, jewelry, vehicles, furniture, lands, insurance policies and all other valuable items? Why did you amass them in the first place? Surely, you wanted your loved ones to have all of these items and enjoy their lives, once you have left this world. All these items that a person own is called an “Estate”. An estate plan is a means of passing these valuable items to the next generation.
There is a myth in the world that only wealthy people will need a estate plan. Estate planning is essential for the super wealthy, as well as, the not so wealthy people. Estate planning is the establishment of a management plan to deal with all your assets, after you have left this world. The owner of the assets is referred to as the “testator” in the estate document. This article will highlight the five elements that should be included in a good estate document.

1. The most important point is to see that the testator’s wish in distributing his or her assets are clearly stipulated in the document. No room should be left for someone else to interpret it differently after the testator’s death. This will go against his or her wish of distributing the assets equally to the members of the immediate family.

2. The opportunities to challenge the document should be minimized. If a beloved one is left out of the estate planning by mistake, he or she may stake a claim once the testator is dead and gone. This type of situation will cause a rift between family members, and tarnish the good name of the testator too. You must be aware of this before finalizing the plan.

3. The legal and familial responsibilities of the testator should be given high priority when preparing the estate document. The other responsibilities such as social and official should come right after this. Any charitable givings that the testator was engaged in, should also be included in the document.

4. The document should allow the beneficiaries to protect the inheritances from creditors or estranged spouses. They should be given the freedom to chart their own path in tax related matters, going forward.

5. The most important factor of a good estate document is to prepare it so that the testator and all other beneficiaries can understand it clearly. Most of the plans lack this clarity, and the beneficiaries end-up spending more on professional fees in order to get a clarification that they can understand.

Estate Planning Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Understanding Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

attorney and clientsWhat is a trust?

A trust is a document, made legalized through the power of an attorney and application of law principles, which specifies the assignment of declared assets upon the death of an individual. A trust should not be used as a substitute for a will but instead, in conjunction with it. Furthermore, a trust helps protect the assets that the beneficiaries would receive and so as decrease the burden of estate tax. There are different types of trust and the most common is the living trust. This type of trust is activated while the person, who applied for it, is still living. The process taken here is simple. The person would just have to move the assets into the trust and they would immediately become a part of it.
There are two categories under a living trust. These are revocable trust and irrevocable trust. The difference between the two is very clear. Revocable trust can be changed or revoked while the other one is not. However, the definition of the two is quite intricate.

Defining Revocable Trust

A revocable trust is a legal document stating that a set of assets will automatically be directed to the declared beneficiary upon the death of the applicant or trust holder. Most of the time, revocable trust includes cash but it can also be tied up with a checking or savings account. Since it is revocable, the trust holder can change the terms of the trust anytime as long as he/she is still living. Also, the holder can access the assets in the trust in case of emergencies.

The word “revocable”, when applied to financial organizations such as the IRS, refers to bank accounts with payable-on-death provisions. Interested applicants can simply fill out the forms provided by the bank and state who will receive the funds contained in the account upon the applicant’s death. This provision works similarly like a trust. Also, this is a great account management scheme where the applicant is given the power to allocate his/her account.

Defining Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is a complex type of legal agreement. It is considered as a separate entity. Here, a federal tax identification number is required. This is usually filed by the tax attorney or the accountant. The applicant would have to go to the state’s Bureau if Internal Revenue and comply with the documents needed for this transaction.

Since the trust is irrevocable and is a separate entity, the creator of the trust will have no access to the assets deposited under it. These assets will also not be owned or could not be touched by the beneficiaries until they are released. For example, if the creator has established a $200,000 trust account and the agreed term is that $10,000 will go to the beneficiary every year, no one could receive and release the money prior to that term. So, the beneficiary would just have to wait another year before he/she will get the other $10,000 until such time that the whole account will be empty.

What type of trust will work for you?

An estate plan is important in order to properly assign one’s assets to intended beneficiaries. Estate planning may cover both revocable and irrevocable trust. Considering which one is right for you would entail an understanding on how you want your assets to be handled upon death, how flexible you would want them to be while you are still alive and what type of assets you will be leaving behind. Any of these trusts has different consequences and benefits. You can consult a legal consultant (such as an attorney) in order to have a clearer view on the type of trust that you can avail and their agreements as well.