For those building an estate plan, the sheer number of options available can seem overwhelming. Estate planning is a very complex field, with numerous financial products and tools to consider.
For many individuals, a trust or collection of trusts are the foundation of an estate plan. Unfortunately, they may spend considerable time and resources creating excellent terms to the trust and carefully funding it with resources aligned to fully take advantage of a trust's benefits, only to find their work undone by an untrustworthy or unqualified trustee.
If you or a loved one is approaching a season of life where they need ongoing assistance, or if you have concerns about your loved one's provision after you are gone, you should consider what a special needs trust may have to offer. In very basic terms, a special needs trust allows a person to receive benefits from the trust so that he or she does not exceed the income caps on receiving government benefits. For many individuals, government benefits make life possible, where paying for ongoing expenses entirely out-of-pocket would quickly exhaust available resources.
Once you begin looking into estate planning options, you very quickly begin running into the same word repeatedly — "probate." The process of probate doesn't extend far outside of estate reconciliation, so it may be an unfamiliar concept if you're just now beginning your estate planning journey. Probate is the process by which the state distributes the property of a deceased person to his or her heirs. Property that passes through probate may lose value or incur taxes, leaving the heirs with much less than the decedent intended.
Living trusts are an important tool in the estate planning toolbox. This term refers to a number of different estate planning products, each with their own purpose and advantages. It is important for individuals who think they may benefit from a living trust to learn exactly which type of living trust might serve their particular needs.
If you serve as a trustee to a trust, there are many reasons why you may wish to resign from your duties at some point. While this is certainly possible, it is similar to a minor divorce in some ways — legally allowed, but only by following certain state-specific procedures. For trustees in Florida, the process is relatively simple, but not always easy.
Florida famously hosts many retirees as they enter their golden years and move South to retire in style. However, many retiring or relocating individuals may worry that moving to Florida from some other state may adversely affect their existing estate plans in some way, specifically trusts created in another state. After all, trusts are state-specific documents.
If you have significant assets and wish to protect them from the probate process, then you have probably considered using some form of trust to accomplish this goal. As any estate planning attorney can tell you, employing a trust has many attractive benefits, but those benefits may never be realized if you do not do your part as the creator of the trust to fund it properly.
Many people find, as they accumulate a significant estate, that they become more and more interested in exploring their options for including charitable giving in their estate plan. One of the most versatile and useful forms of charitable giving in estate planning is funding a charitable trust with some of your assets. While the specifics will vary according to your circumstances and desires for the trust, charitable trusts are not only a great way to leave your impact on a cause you care for, they also provide some excellent tax advantages.
If you've spent any time at all researching estate planning, you have come across the concept of trusts. Trusts are one of the cornerstones of modern estate planning, and there are many kinds of trust that may be used depending on your circumstances and the goals you hope to achieve.