An estate plan is not just having a trust or a will. It is a complete set of tools used to control what will happen to you and to your assets when you are no longer able to make those decisions for yourself including:
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Advanced Health Care Directives (Living Wills)
- HIPAA releases
- Special Needs Trusts
- Appointment of Guardian for minor child.
A quality estate plan will meet your needs today, set the foundation for protection of you and your assets tomorrow and enable you to make changes as your family and financial status change over time.
Why a Living Trust?
If you leave your estate through your Will, it must be probated and does not avoid probate.
- Convenience: If you don’t want to handle the everyday administration of your investments, your trustee can handle all the details, including paying your bills, making your investments, filing your tax returns and earning an income on your assets for your support.
- Privacy: Unlike Wills, which are made public after death, trusts may remain private and are not a matter of public record. Also real estate can be deeded and transferred with Trust language in the deed itself so the Trust doesn’t need to be recorded in the Public Records.
- Retain Control: Even if you transfer assets to the trust, you still have control of the funds; you can appoint yourself and/or your spouse to be trustee and manage all your own investments, sales, etc.. However, you can if you desire appoint a successor trustee to manage them for you if you are unable to do so. You may also have the right to revoke or alter the trust at any time.
- Avoid Probate: While you are alive, if you transfer your real estate and personal property, bank accounts, stocks and securities into a revocable living trust, you can save on after death probate expenses (which usually cost about 3% of your estate).
While your trust still must pay for your debts and expenses after death, there is little, if any, delay for your heirs/beneficiaries.
A Will is your written instruction how to distribute and who will inherit your real estate, investments, and assets after you die.
You can select the source from which your debts should be paid, and select the person or Bank who will enforce all decisions you have made.
If you made a Will when you were a resident living outside of Florida, then your Will may not be valid when you change your state residence.
Your Will should be reviewed because:
- Your last residence may control the meaning and (Probate) enforcement of your Will.
- Your spouse and children may lose permitted exemptions.
Since the majority of provisions in an estate plan are contained in the Living Trust document, a short document will be needed for your Pour-Over Will. Since there is still a possibility of inheritance from a third party, or accidental death in which a probated estate will be necessary, it is always necessary to have a Pour-Over Will. Also if some assets are not titled in the name of a Living Trust prior to death, the Personal Representative will “pour them over” into the Living Trust after death.
To speak to an attorney about your legal matter, please contact Neaher Law today.
Attorney at Law offering Estate Planning, Probate, Family Law, HOA/Condo Law and Legal Services in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Lee County, Collier County, Port Charlotte County and all of Southwest Florida.