Estate planning attorney of Legacy Assurance Plan of America for Wills,Trust & Avoid Probate

Loading...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Legacy Assurance Plan Article | Going the Extra Mile to Ensure Your Estate Plan Works Smoothly

Summary: Creating the necessary legal documents, like power of attorney, wills and trusts, is a substantial and essential step in the estate planning process. But it is only a first step. To have an estate plan that truly functions seamlessly, that the extra step of ensuring that all of your affairs and vital paperwork are organized in one secure place, so that your loved ones can carry out your final wishes without facing the task of tracking down needed documents.

So, you've just finished executing your brand new estate plan. It includes your will, your powers of attorney, your advance directive and possibly one or more trusts. Everything is signed, witnessed and notarized. You're all set, right?

Not exactly. Performing truly complete estate planning goes beyond just getting your legal documents created, although that is a huge and essential step. To be truly prepared, and to give your family the greatest possible peace of mind, you should go the extra mile.

One area where you can go that extra mile is your final arrangements. Some states have created legal document that resembles an advance directive, except that it governs your final arrangements. Even if your state does not have such a document, you may still put your wishes down on paper. You can make certain that each detail, large or small, that is important to you is imparted to those who will have carry out your funeral after you die. You can state whether you want to be buried or cremated, what mortuary you wish to handle the arrangements, what type of funeral service you want... even what music should play.

If you have special needs for your funeral that require special documentation, make sure that is completed. For example, if you are to be buried in a military cemetery, your loved ones likely will have to produce your DD214 discharge papers.

One key with all these things is maintain them in an organized manner. A large three-ring binder can help you put everything together. Since this binder should be kept in a secure, locked place, you can also place other sensitive documents with it, including your online account names and passwords, insurance documents, retirement account paperwork, bank and/or brokerage statements, real estate deeds and a list of your professional advisors.

Compiling and securing your documents is not the final step in the process, however. You should also make certain that you inform the loved ones and/or advisors who will handle your affairs after you die as to where you have secured your binder (along with instructions on how to access it.) Once you've gone to the effort to put a plan in place to provide for your family, the last thing you want is for your loved ones to, in their moment of grief, face the stress of engaging in a massive search for needed paperwork to carry out your final wishes.
    
This article written and published by:
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, Florida 34201
844.306.5272 (Phone)


Friday, April 22, 2016

Legacy Assurance Plan Article | Remembering a Favorite Charity in Your Estate Plan


Summary: Giving to charity is almost always emotionally rewarding. When you include properly structured donations to a qualifying charity as part of your estate plan, you can also reap financial rewards as well. Carefully structured charitable estate planning can offer benefits with regard to income taxes, death taxes, as well as removing those assets from your probate estate.     


When you create your estate plan, you are leaving behind a legacy of your life, with your beneficiaries representing the people and things that matter most to you. One vital part of this process of leaving a legacy, for many people, is charitable giving. Your estate plan can serve as one way to remember a cherished charity, and it can also provide some additional benefits to your family beyond helping advance the mission of the charity.

In addition to the altruistic positives associated with giving to charitable causes, leaving money or assets to a charity in your estate plan may also provide tax benefits to you. Many of these tax benefits can be realized through the use of trust planning. One option is to leave a distribution to your favorite charity in your revocable living trust. You can also, though, create special trusts for the purpose of leaving something to a charity.

One such example is the charitable remainder trust (CRT). These trusts can benefit both the donor and charity. In a CRT, you transfer an asset or amount of wealth irrevocably into the trust. The trust's trustee manages the funds in the trust and pays the income from that investment to you (or to the person you designate) for a period of time you stipulate. When that period of time ends, the wealth that the trust owns transfer to the charity you named. These trusts can provide benefits both on your income taxes and also offer benefits with regard to capital gain taxes if you use highly appreciated assets to fund the trust.   

A charitable lead trust (CLT) works somewhat similarly to a CRT, only in reverse order. You create your CLT and fund it with the assets you select. The charity you name gets an income payout during your lifetime. When you die, the CLT's assets transfer to the loved ones you named. These assets generally pass to your loved ones free from any estate tax obligation. 

In order to obtain the full tax benefit of these strategies, it is important to recognize that the IRS only recognizes certain benevolent entities as qualifying charities. This group of charities, called 501(c)(3) entities (named after the section of the tax code that defines the criteria for qualifying entities), includes most churches, colleges and hospitals, in addition to numerous others. The IRS's website has tools for researching whether an entity is a qualifying charity.

The IRS also has strict rules regarding how trusts and transfers must be structured in order to qualify for tax benefits. To make sure that your charitable estate plans function as intended and give you all the benefits to which the law entitles you, take care to select an experienced professional familiar with this type of planning.

This article written and published by:
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, Florida 34201
844.306.5272 (Phone)


    

Friday, April 15, 2016

Legacy Assurance Plan Article | How to Plan to Leave a Child Nothing in Your Estate

Summary: Many reasons exist for excluded a child from receiving a distribution in an estate plan. In order to make sure this goal reaches fruition, it is important to create an estate plan, in order to ensure your assets are not governed by intestacy laws. Additionally, it is very important to structure the language in your plan documents carefully, in order to avoid giving that disinherited child any opportunity to challenge your plans in court after you've passed away.      

Family dynamics are much like snowflakes... each one is unique in one way or another. Some families enjoy relationships like the family TV programs of decades ago. For others, situations are more complicated. All of these relationships, both positive and negative, can bear on how you structure your estate plan. Yet, if you intend to leave a child nothing from your estate, you should create your estate plan carefully, so that your desires can be carried out after you die. 

One of the most common reasons you might disinherit a child is a failed personal relationship. There are also, of course, reasons you might disinherit a child even if you and your child share a warm personal relationship. Perhaps you gave the child sizable financial gifts during your lifetime. Maybe you made loans to your child that he/she has not paid back and you and your child agreed that, instead of his/her paying you back, the money you loaned would take the place of an inheritance.

The law does allow you disinherit your child, but you must make an estate plan to do so. It is essential that your plan documents explicitly acknowledge the disinherited child's existence. Your plan documents may state that the disinherited child should be treated as if he/she predeceased you, meaning he/she gets nothing. You might choose to leave that child some nominal amount, like $1, just to make absolutely clear what your intentions are. In some states, though, this is a bad idea, because giving even a distribution of just $1 may give that child the right to obtain information about your estate that he/she could not access.

If you do nothing, the intestacy laws (the laws governing estates of people with no estate planning documents in most states grant a portion of your estate to your children. If you make a plan but do not mention the disinherited child at all, that child could possibly go to court and have a realistic chance of persuading a judge that he/she was "omitted" from your will and that he/she should receive the amount he/she would be entitled to under the state's intestacy laws.

If you are considering disinheriting your child for financial reasons that might place the inheritance at risk, such as addictions or a failing marriage, be aware that there may be better ways of addressing your family's issues. The law allows you to create certain types of trusts into which you can put assets for the benefit of that child. These trusts are managed by an outside trustee and your child has no direct control over them, creating an element of protection.

This article written and published by:
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, Florida 34201
844.306.5272 (Phone)


  
    

Friday, April 8, 2016

Legacy Assurance Plan Article: Estate Planning Tips for People Going Through Divorce

Summary: Your estate plan reflects the legacy you want to leave behind, so each life change you experience will likely impact your plan. If you are going through divorce, you should certainly take great care to update each element of your estate plan, including your will, trusts, powers of attorney, living will and death beneficiary accounts, to ensure that your current goals and objectives will be realized when you die.    
 
Divorce is stressful period of transition and change for most people. While there many things on which you will need expend your attention during this challenging time, you should not forget that your estate plan also requires addressing now that you've experienced this life change.   

One of the first things you will want to do is update your will. Generally, your will names your spouse by name, so if you die and your will leaves a sizable inheritance to "John Doe" or "Jane Doe," then your executor (or  the trustee of your trust) and the courts will be obliged to follow this instruction, even if this person is your ex-spouse. For many people, such an outcome might be especially frustrating and painful, so you should deal with updating your will promptly.

You will also need to go through any asset or account that has a death beneficiary destination on it to remove your ex. Recent court cases have ruled that, even if you divorce your ex and update your will, your ex will still receive the money from your life insurance or retirement account if you do not update the paperwork on those accounts. The single determining factor regarding who gets your transfer-on-death or pay-on-death accounts is the name on that account's death beneficiary designation form, so it is vital that you make sure you update each of these accounts.

Additionally, you'll want to tend to your powers of attorney and living will. Chances are, you do not want your ex managing your financial affairs or making healthcare decisions (including end-of-life decisions) for you after you're divorced. Executing new powers of attorney and a new living will is often relative quick and straightforward process.

If you have a living trust, you should investigate updating this part of your estate plan, as well. For many people, their spouses may not only be beneficiaries of their trusts, but trustees, as well. A capable estate planning attorney can assist you with making the changes your trust needs to address your divorce.


Finally, you do not have to wait until your divorce is finalized in order to begin updating your estate plan. Even is you anticipate that your divorce may take several months or years to complete, you can (and should) start working on updating your estate plan right away. Keep in mind, though, that the law in every state says that you cannot disinherit your spouse so, even if your preference is to leave your ex nothing, you will not be able to make that happen until the divorce is final.

This article written and published by:
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, Florida 34201
844.306.5272 (Phone)