One of the most difficult challenges any of us face is the need to properly plan for the distribution of our assets when we die. End-of-life and estate planning concerns often tend to go unaddressed by most people, since they usually involve subjects that most of us would rather avoid. The problem is that those subjects cannot easily be ignored, since either we or our heirs will eventually have to confront them. For most people, then, the choice comes down to deciding whether we take responsibility for how our estates get settled when we die, or whether we simply leave the problem to our surviving loved ones. If you want to avoid placing that burden on your family members, then it is important to know how Florida trust law can enhance your estate planning efforts.
Trust Law Provides You with Incredible Tools
Under Florida law, estate planning can offer a tremendous array of powerful tools. The trust is among the most useful, since it offers a wide assortment of benefits and flexible options that enable it to be used for many different planning needs. And while many people rely on trusts to minimize or control their tax obligations, the trust is much more than just a tool for tax avoidance. The fact is that your trust can provide your estate planning with the ideal solution to many complex issues.
There are, for example, the standard revocable trusts that more families are now relying on to ensure that their assets are distributed without the need for probate. These living trusts are becoming more popular as people discover that they provide a way for them to avoid probate while still maintaining control over the trust’s assets while they’re still alive. That’s a powerful feature that can help you to better organize your estate and plan for your own death without losing control over assets that you need to maintain your standard of living and pursue your financial goals.
But trusts can do much more than simply prepare for asset distribution without probate. The many different varieties of trust types in the marketplace today help to ensure that you can use a trust for many other important needs too, such as:
Spendthrift Trust. If you have heirs who have trouble managing money, or suffer from gambling problems or issues with creditors, you can use a spendthrift provision in your trust to ensure that those assets are protected against their bad habits and bad debts. That can allow you to protect the trust by ensuring that the inheritance you leave behind actually helps to benefit your loved one as intended.
Medicaid Trust. A trust can be an important part of Medicaid planning too. By transferring assets into an irrevocable trust that is designed to protect them from Medicaid eligibility calculations, you can ensure that those assets are safeguarded to benefit your heirs and loved ones.
Pet Trust. If you have pets, you might think that you can take care of them using your will. The problem is that you cannot leave money directly to an animal. Instead, you must leave it to a human who then uses it for that animal’s benefit. But since the Last Will and Testament doesn’t provide for any way to ensure that your pet’s guardian will follow your wishes, that makes it an inefficient tool for this need. With a trust, your trustee can be given authority to ensure that the money left for any pet’s care is used as directed.
Charitable Trusts: You can also utilize trusts to provide support to your preferred charities. There are different options here, including trusts that enable the trust’s beneficiaries to enjoy distributions from the trust for a period prior to the charity receiving the remaining assets, and a trust that reverses that distribution priority.
There are other trust types as well – too many to list here, in fact – but you get the picture. If you can think of a lawful estate planning need, chances are that there may be a trust that can be used to achieve your objectives. When you work with an experienced trusts attorney, he or she can help you determine which of your estate planning needs could benefit from this type of legal arrangement.
As with anything in life, there are some disadvantages as well. For example, your trust will cost more than a simple will, and it will also need to be funded properly if it is to accomplish your specific goals. An unfunded trust is essentially worthless and protects nothing, but many people still fail to ensure that their assets are properly transferred to their trusts. Since that process can sometimes be time-consuming and complex, it is often wise to have your trusts attorney provide guidance and assistance in any funding effort.
You should also be cognizant of the fact that Florida trust law doesn’t provide any way for creditors to be found and paid after the trustor dies. Instead, potential creditors can file estate claims as many as two years after you die. That can place your trustee in an awkward position, since he or she is unlikely to agree to disperse assets to heirs until that claims period has passed. To avoid that, you may want to provide instructions to have some type of probate opened as well, since that process only allows creditors three months to make any claims.
Get the Help You Need Today
At Robert J. Kulas, P.A., Medicaid & Estate Planning Attorneys, our trusts experts have the knowledge and experience you need to ensure that Florida trust law provides the benefits you deserve. We can help to review your individual circumstances and goals so that a comprehensive estate plan can be created to meet those objectives. Throughout it all, you can rest assured that your estate planning will be designed to accommodate your unique financial, retirement, and legacy goals – so that you can have the peace of mind that you deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.