We discuss specific circumstances to assist you in determining if a trust is the best option. Depending on your situation, trusts may be an important addition in your estate plan. Trusts are written to simplify the distribution of estate benefits after the rightful owner passes away.
A Revocable Trust can be used to avoid certain probate proceedings. A Trust is also highly recommended for families that own property in two states. Some choose a trust since it is not part of the public record.
Assets can be moved in and out of a “Revocable Trust” during the Grantor’s lifetime which gives the Grantor flexibility. Estates over $5 million currently pay federal estate taxes, sometimes referred to as the “Death Tax”. Married couples have several options though and this minimum estate value does change so check with your attorney for the most recent tax information.
An Irrevocable Trust may be chosen for estate tax planning, liability protection or charitable giving. Once made it generally cannot be amended. It is used for life insurance policies, tax planning and charitable donations. For example, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is created, the assets placed in the trust are no longer owned by the Grantor and therefore taken out of the Grantor’s taxable estate.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust is a focused document written for beneficiaries with physical or mental challenges. We specialize in providing families the legal advice to provide ready access to valuable resources for persons of all ages who are challenged by incapacitating disabilities. We also work closely with families who determine that a guardianship is necessary for their loved one.
About Special Needs Trusts
What is a special needs trust?
The term Special Needs describes any trust intended to provide benefits without causing the beneficiary to lose public benefits he or she is entitled to receive.
What kind of public benefits are protected?
Most commonly, special needs trusts are intended to permit Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid recipients to receive additional services or goods although it can be intended to protect different public benefits.
If we have a special needs trust, do we then qualify for public benefits?
No, the existence of a special needs trust does not itself make public benefits available. The beneficiary must qualify for the benefits program already or qualify after the trust is established. If properly established, the special needs trust will not cause a loss of benefits.
How can I provide for my special needs child?
The person establishing the trust, called the settlor (or grantor or, trustor) chooses to make some of his or her own assets available for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary. A special needs trust can be established by one person for the benefit of another, for example, by parents for their special needs child. If the appointed special needs trustee has complete discretion whether to make distributions for the beneficiary, the trust principal and income will usually not be counted as available and benefits will not be effected. Since the beneficiary was never entitled to the money in the trust, the trust terms should not create any entitlement to either income or principal.
So many of our clients have beloved pets. As part of our estate planning we discuss the options available for the care of your pets after you pass away or if you are incapacitated. We know that pets are part of the family too. Florida law allows a pet owner to establish a pet trust to provide for pets during the pet’s lifetime.
You must designate who should serve as trustee or if a court should appoint a trustee and provide resources and instructions necessary to provide for your pet’s support and care. Since Pet Trusts require funding for the life of your pet, it is important to consider how much funding you have available.
Another option for domesticated pets is to make a traditional bequest in your Last Will and Testament to a trusted individual to ensure your pets do not end up in a shelter. Call us to discuss the options as you plan and provide for any of your “best friends” you may leave behind.
When do I need a trust?
- Simple wills direct the disposition of assets at death and may include a testamentary trust for minor child to receive an inheritance at a specific age.
- Revocable or Living trusts simplify the process for beneficiaries or for peace of mind if an incapacity occurs.
- Special needs trusts provide benefits without causing the beneficiary to lose public benefits he or she is entitled to receive.
- Pet trusts, an often forgotten but necessary consideration for man’s best friend.
- Medicaid planning options are available.
- Complex asset scenarios involving multiple trusts or legal entities that dictate the long-term management and protection of assets for the benefit of multiple generations of beneficiaries.
If your goal is to minimize estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes or to create estate freeze and reduction techniques, our team has the experience to guide you through the process. We also frequently assist in developing charitable giving strategies.