Finding the Right Estate Planning Tool for You
Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll, in West Palm Beach, Florida, is dedicated to helping individuals and families identify, understand and set up the tools they need for proper estate planning. Individuals with minimal assets may find a simple will is all that is needed. Families with significant assets or specific elder law or disability planning goals may need multiple trusts.
Whether you create one or not, everyone has a will.
Florida’s intestacy statute lays out a generic distribution of our assets if we die without a will (no, the state does not keep our assets). This generic distribution is rarely right for you. It is not customized to the family. It offers no protection for assets going to irresponsible or special needs beneficiaries. It does not properly address issues dealing with assets to minors and may not appoint the proper people to serve as responsible parties to distribute your assets. For all of those reasons and many more, a properly customized will is recommended for every client.
In our discussion of your wishes and goals for your assets, we also offer suggestions on how to achieve financial goals for loved ones beyond merely distributing assets. A properly prepared will is an expression of your wish that your assets be used for the benefit of your loved ones.
A living will spells out your wishes in the event death is near or you are in a persistent vegetative state.
Living wills handle the very sensitive issues of whether you want to be provided with life-prolonging treatments and food and fluids at the very end of life. It answers the question if your body should be kept alive in the event your brain no longer functions at a cognitive level. The document addresses issues of pain medication and the withholding of life-sustaining support when that support would only serve to artificially prolong the process of dying.
By preparing a living will, you express your wishes, saving others from making these painful and difficult decisions for you. A living will is as comforting to your family as it is to you.
Revocable and Irrevocable Trust Attorney Serving Palm Beach Gardens
There are many forms of trusts, both revocable and irrevocable, and they are used for a variety of purposes and to accomplish a variety of goals. As with the preparation of a will, the use of trusts in estate planning is tailored to the client’s goals as well as assets. West Palm Beach wills and trust attorney Mitchell Kitroser will help you determine which type(s) of trust best fits your needs, as well as assist you in appointing an appropriate trustee.
Revocable trusts are what most people think of when they hear the word trust. In many ways, revocable trusts take the place of a traditional will. They can be modified throughout a person’s lifetime, and the person creating the trust still has access to the funds. The advantages of a revocable trust are:
- They eliminate the need for probate.
- They create a smooth transition plan for the time when the creator of the trust (also known as the grantor) becomes incapacitated or dies.
- They avoid the delays typically associated with the probate process.
- They can be revised at any time the grantor wants, provided the grantor is still alive and has capacity.
An irrevocable trust ordinarily cannot be modified by the person who created it. These trusts essentially remove all ownership of the assets from the trust’s grantor, thus preserving the assets while removing tax liability and income constraints on eligibility for government benefits. For this reason, irrevocable trusts are often used in conjunction with Medicaid planning and elder law.
Types of Trusts
Some common forms of trusts are:
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts: At the time of someone’s death, all assets in that person’s name are subject to estate taxes, including life insurance policies. Irrevocable life insurance trusts take the policy out of a person’s name during their lifetime, thereby removing it from their estate and protecting it from creditors.
- Supplemental needs trusts: Also called special needs trusts, supplemental needs trusts provide funding for a person with special needs without compromising that person’s eligibility for government benefits.
- Spendthrift trusts: These trusts are popular with people who want to leave money to a beneficiary who they believe will spend it unwisely. A trustee will control the trust and oversee the distribution of assets to the heir, thus protecting the beneficiary from their own irresponsibility.
- Charitable remainder trusts: A charitable remainder trust is beneficial for those who wish to donate property or other assets to a charity upon their death. In many cases, a charitable remainder trust can be used to provide unique income benefits to loved ones.
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