What is a revocable living trust and do I need one?

What is a revocable living trust and do I need one?

| Written by Andrew C. Grant | One of the most frequent questions I get when meeting with new clients to plan for their estates is whether they need a trust or not.  This question is usually prompted by a lack of information, or misinformation, as to what a trust does as part of a person’s estate plan.  This article will attempt to provide a little clarity on the subject. A trust is most commonly used as a means of avoiding probate at the grantor’s death.  These trusts are referred to as revocable, or living, trusts.  As the name implies, they are created during a person’s lifetime and are fully revocable or amendable during that lifetime.  All assets transferred to the trust are treated as if the grantor (who is usually also the trustee) still owns them directly with no loss of control.  Upon the grantor’s death, assets that are already in the trust pass to the grantor’s beneficiaries without having to...
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Important documents you should have in place now

Important documents you should have in place now

| Written by Laurie Taylor | “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin When I talk to clients about having their Estate Documents in place, I am often dismissed because "we don't have enough money to worry about." Estate Documents deal with much more than money. They also state your wishes and provide for your needs if you should become incapacitated. At the bare minimum, you need to have in place: A Living Will - A living will is a document that provides specific instructions about healthcare treatment. It is generally used to declare wishes to refuse life-sustaining treatment under certain circumstances. If you do not want to be kept on life care support, you absolutely need this document. Health Care Proxy or Durable Health Power of Attorney - In the event that you are unable to make treatment decisions, the healthcare proxy allows you to choose someone you trust to make treatment decisions on your behalf. The person...
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What happens to your email when you die?

What happens to your email when you die?

| Written by Andrew Grant | As a child of the 80’s, when I heard the term “digital” it usually had to do with watches, and when I finally got one I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. It was really the only “digital” asset I had. Now, of course, most of us have “digital assets” we can’t physically touch. We have email, cloud photos, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. All of these are “digital assets” that until recently have been a very uncertain part of people’s estate plans. For example, if spouses shared an email account but only one was listed as the “owner” the surviving spouse could have trouble accessing or changing the email account if the “owner” spouse died. This would be especially problematic if the couple had elected paperless billing so that credit cards or utilities only emailed monthly bills instead of mailing through the post office. This year Florida joined a growing number of states that...
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You may not know this detail about elder law and estate planning

You may not know this detail about elder law and estate planning

| Written by Andrew C. Grant | Any caricature of Florida inevitably shows a sizable senior population, which makes it no less true.  With an aging population come certain needs, including increased needs for health care and day-to-day living assistance.  Lawyers who work in Elder Law seek to assist clients with those needs in an economically efficient manner, whether by qualifying for Medicaid for long-term care costs, or structuring asset ownership so that long-term care costs don’t gobble up all the client’s assets. Planning for long-term care costs may require significant changes to the client’s estate plan, as well.  For example, qualifying for Medicaid may require giving assets away now instead of waiting until death.  That makes it important to consider both aspects of planning when trying to meet the client’s needs. Generally, there are three categories of persons when it comes to long-term care planning:  there are those with sufficient wealth to self-pay, or who have procured long-term care insurance that will...
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It’s time to have that difficult conversation with your older parents

It’s time to have that difficult conversation with your older parents

| Written by Laurie Taylor | I moved away from my parents' home before I turned 18 years old. Whenever I would go back to visit, my mom would tell me "All our important papers are in that file cabinet." I would nod but I never walked over to that file cabinet and opened the drawer to see what she thought was important. That file cabinet represented an event that I did not want to face; that my mom would no longer be able to handle her affairs. I also never asked her any questions, such as "Where are your bank accounts? Do you have any investment accounts? Life insurance? A safety deposit box? Are your estate documents current? What are your wishes for your funeral?" It felt awkward, like I was excitedly anticipating her impending demise. However, death is inevitable and denying its existence will not stop it from occurring. Sometimes, before death occurs, there may be a period of incapacitation....
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Estate planning for heirs with special needs

Estate planning for heirs with special needs

| Written by Andrew C. Grant | We all know the cast of characters that make up our families can be as varied as the shells that wash up on the beach. Sometimes that cast includes persons with special needs; needs that prevent them from being able to take care of themselves; needs that prevent them from wisely managing significant sums of money. For such heirs, there are estate planning tools available to help them manage an inheritance without excluding them from the estate. The most severe special needs include those who rely on government services for their health and well-being, including social security-disability and Medicaid. For those beneficiaries, a significant inheritance could mean the end of government benefits. To avoid such a disastrous result it would be better to leave the inheritance to a special needs trust; a trust which exists solely to supplement their lifestyle, as the trustee sees fit, to fill in the gaps where other benefit programs fall...
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These are the basic legal issues that arise when someone loses a partner

These are the basic legal issues that arise when someone loses a partner

| Written by Andrew Grant | Many things happen all at once when the first of a married couple dies, and the survivor is left to deal with matters that may be unfamiliar and intimidating. Among the most intimidating issues the surviving spouse faces are the legal issues; how to transfer the house, what to do about taxes, or whether a probate proceeding is needed. This article will attempt to offer some basic guidance on these matters. After making the necessary arrangements for saying goodbye to the deceased, the next step is to put the surviving spouse into position to carry on with his or her life. This usually involves moving assets to the surviving spouse’s sole name. Many assets, like jointly-held accounts or those that are payable-on-death (retirement accounts, insurance, or bank accounts), can transfer with a copy of the death certificate. The DMV will also usually transfer title to a vehicle that way. Transferring title to real property, however, can...
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