Family and Wealth Planning

Estate Planning: 3 Reasons We Run the Other Way

We understand that it feels hard to get around to estate planning; it sounds about as fun as getting a root canal. However, we also understand that we all want to make sure that our loved ones are protected and receive our hard-earned assets – regardless of whether we have $10 million or $10,000. After you plan,

Don’t let these common roadblocks stop you from protecting yourself and your family:

  1. Who Wants to Talk About Death? Discussions of death, dying, and illness – money and family – will and trusts – make many folks uncomfortable. Of course, that’s normal.  But, don’t let a few minutes of feeling uncomfortable stop you from taking care of yourself and your loved ones.
  1. This Isn’t a Good Time. Everyone is busy. We understand that, but there’s never going to be a better time. Call our office, get on the calendar, and get it done.
  1. I Don’t Get It. Estate planning is documented in legal papers; finances are discussed; the law is analyzed. It’s common feel uncomfortable in a world you’re not familiar with.  If that’s what you are thinking, you are not We will translate complex legal concepts into everyday layman’s terms for you, just like we do for everyone else.

The truth is that estate planning isn’t really that bad. In fact, with our help, estate planning is easy. We’ll chat with you about your goals and concerns, analyze your family and financial situation, and work with you to come up with a solid plan. You provide the information, which we always keep confidential, and we’ll take care of everything else.

By starting the planning process, you will have the opportunity to review your own family goals and to plan for them and have the satisfaction to know that you have taken the path to care and provide for those you love, including yourself.

Taking the first step will open the doors up to peace of mind. Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
www.yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

What is the different between Dying Intestate or with a Will or Trust?

Most people understand that having some sort of an estate plan is, as Martha Stewart would say, a “good thing.” However, many of us don’t take the steps to get that estate plan in place because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts – and dying without either.

Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a will, and with a trust. For this example, we’re assuming you have children, but no spouse:

  1. If you should die intestate, your estate will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, what you owed, and who got what. Your mortgage company, car loan company, and credit card companies will all seek payment on balances you owed at the time of your death.

After that, state law will decide who gets what and when.

  • For example, if your only heirs are your children and you have not provided any instructions, state law will mandate dividing up proceeds equally.
  • Your older children will get their shares immediately if they’ve attained adulthood.
  • But, the court will appoint a guardian to manage the money for your minor children until they become adults.
  • Shockingly, that guardian can charge a lot of money and be a total stranger – as can the guardian who raises your child.
  • Yes, if you die without an estate plan, the court, not you, will decide who raises your minor children.

Keep in mind that since your death has been published to alert valid creditors, it’s not uncommon for predators (fake creditors) to come forth and make demands for payment – even if they’re not owed anything.

The bottom line? Dying intestate allows state law and the court to make all the decisions on your behalf – regardless of what your intent might have been. Publicity is guaranteed.

  1. If you should die with a valid will, your assets will still go through the probate process. However, after creditors have been satisfied, the remaining assets go to whom you’ve identified in your will.
  • So, if you want to leave money to your children and name a guardian for the minor ones, the court will usually abide by your wishes.
  • The same holds true if you specified that you wanted to give assets to a charity, your Aunt Betty, or your neighbor.
  • Keep in mind that predatory creditors are still an issue as your death has been publicized. Even with a will, probate is a public process.

The bottom line? While a court oversees the process, having a Will allows you to tell the court exactly how you want your estate to be handled. But, a public probate is still guaranteed.

  1. If you’ve created a trust, you’ve taken control of your estate plan and your assets. Trust assets are not subject to the probate process and one of the most important benefits of trusts is that they are private. Notices are not published, so you avoid predators coming after your estate.

You’ll have named a trustee to manage your estate with specific instructions on how your assets should be dispersed and when.

  • One word of caution – trusts must be funded in order to bypass probate.
  • Funding means that your assets have been re-titled in the name of your trust.
  • Think of your trust as a bushel basket. You must put the apples into the basket as you must put your assets into the trust for either to have value.

You do still need a will to pour any assets inadvertently or intentionally left out of your trust.  This is more of a safety-net if your trust is properly funded and it can name guardians for minor children. However, as part of our trust plans, we prepare a set of documents to name financial and custodial guardians for minor children with very detailed and specific instructions for those guardians.

The bottom line? Trusts allow you to maintain control of your assets through your chosen trustee, avoid probate, and leave specific instructions so that your children are taken care of – without receiving a lump sum of money at an age where they are more likely to squander it or have it seized from them.

Don’t let the will versus trust controversy slow you down. Call the office today; we’ll put together an estate plan that works for you and your family whether it be a will, trust, or both but make sure to get it done.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
www.yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family
Family and Wealth Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Trust Planning? What are my options?

Creating an estate plan that works can seem daunting.  However, that’s what we, as estate planning attorneys, do every day. We know the laws and know how to design the right plan that works for the needs of the individual client and the client’s specific situation by walking the client through the roads of Estate Planning.

Some of the considerations we make when walking the client through the Estate Planning path is the type of trust or trusts the client may need. Next you can look at the basics of ten common trusts in an aim to provide a general understanding. There will not be a quiz at the end- it is just helpful information.  All you need to do when we meet is share your goals and insight into your family and financial situation, and we will design a plan that incorporates the best planning for your situation.

  1. Bypass Trusts. Commonly referred to as Credit Shelter Trust, Family Trust, or B Trust, Bypass Trusts do just that: bypass the surviving spouse’s estate to take advantage of tax exclusions and provide asset protection.
  1. Charitable Lead Trusts. CLTs are split interest trusts which provide a stream of income to a charity of your choice for a period of years or a lifetime. Whatever’s left goes to you or your loved ones.
  1. Charitable Remainder Trusts. CRTs are split interest trusts which provide a stream of income to you for a period of years or a lifetime and the remainder goes to the charity of your choice.
  1. Special Needs Trusts. SNTs allow you to benefit someone with special needs without disqualifying them for governmental benefits. Federal laws allow special needs beneficiaries to obtain benefits from a carefully crafted trust without defeating eligibility for government benefits.
  1. Generation-Skipping Trusts. GST Trusts allow you to distribute your assets to your grandchildren, or even to later generations, without paying the generation-skipping tax.
  1. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts. GRATs are irrevocable trusts which are used to make large financial gifts to family members while limiting estate and gift taxes.
  1. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts. ILITs are designed to exclude life insurance proceeds from the deceased’s estate for tax purposes. However, proceeds are still available to provide liquidity to pay taxes, equalize inheritances, fund buy-sell agreements, or provide an inheritance.
  1. Marital Trusts. Marital Trusts are designed to provide asset protection and financial benefits to a surviving spouse. Trust assets are included in his or her estate for tax purposes.
  1. Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trusts. QTIPs initially provide income to a surviving spouse and, upon his or her death, the remaining assets are distributed to other named beneficiaries. These are commonly used in second marriage situations and to maximize estate and generation-skipping tax exemptions and tax planning flexibility.
  1. Testamentary Trusts. Testamentary Trusts are created in a will. These trusts are created upon an individual’s death and are commonly used to provide for a beneficiary. They are commonly used when a beneficiary is too young, has medical or drug issues, or may be a spendthrift. Trusts also provide asset protection from lawsuits brought against the beneficiary.

There are many types of trusts available and planning options. We’ll help you select which trust or trusts, if any, are a good fit for you.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
www.yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

 

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Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning

Wills vs. Trusts: A Quick & Simple Reference Guide

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I talk all the time about a Will and a Trust as two different things and I always get confused glares. Not sure about the differences between wills and trusts?  You are not alone. While it’s always wise to contact experts like us, it’s also important to understand the basics. Here’s a quick and simple reference guide so you don’t have to glare confusedly when someone says that a Will and a Trust are very different:

What Revocable Living Trusts Can Do – That Wills Can’t

  • Avoid a Guardianship. A revocable living trust allows you to authorize your spouse, partner, child, or other trusted person to manage your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs. Wills only become effective when you die, so they are useless in avoiding a Guardianship proceeding during your life.
  • Bypass probate. Property in a revocable living trust does not pass through probate. Property that passes using a Will guarantees The probate process, designed to wrap up a person’s affairs after satisfying outstanding debts, is public and can be costly and time consuming – sometimes taking years to resolve.
  • Maintain privacy after death. Wills are public documents; trusts are not. Anyone, including noisy neighbors, predators, and unscrupulous “charities” can discover the details of your estate if you have a will. Trusts allow you to maintain your family’s privacy after death.
  • Protect you from court challenges. Although court challenges to Wills and Trusts occur, attacking a Trust is generally much harder than attacking a Will because trust provisions are not made public.

What Wills Can Do – That Revocable Living Trusts Can’t                     

  • Name guardians for children. It is believed that only a Will can name Guardians for your children. However, we prepare for our clients, as part of their Trust package, a series of documents to name guardians for minor children, both financial guardians and care-takers. These documents are subject to current state law, for example: family law in Florida, where the surviving parent would have more legal rights over the child’s custody than any other person designated as a guardian. However, you are still able to name an independent financial guardian for your minor child who is not the same person as the care-taker.
  • Specify an executor or personal representative. Wills allow you to name an executor or personal representative – someone who will take responsibility to wrap up your estate after you die. This typically involves working with the probate court, protecting assets, paying your debts, and distributing what remains to beneficiaries. But, if there are no assets in your probate estate (because you have a fully funded revocable trust), this feature is not necessarily useful. However, a trust does not require a Personal Representative. A trust names a Trustee or Trustees to do the work during the life of the Grantor and after.

What Both Wills & Trusts Can Do:

  • Allow revisions to your document. Both wills and trusts can be revised whenever your intentions or circumstances change so long as you have the legal capacity to execute them.

WARNING: There is such as a thing as irrevocable trusts, which cannot be changed without legal action.

  • Name beneficiaries. Both wills and trusts are vehicles which allow you to name beneficiaries for your assets.
  • Wills simply describe assets and proclaim who gets what. Only assets in your individual name will be controlled by a will.
  • While trusts act similarly, you must go one step further and “transfer” the property into the trust – commonly referred to as “funding.” Only assets in the name of your trust will be controlled by your trust.
  • Provide asset protection. Trusts, and less commonly, wills, are crafted to include protective sub-trusts which allow your beneficiaries access but keep the assets from being seized by their creditors such as divorcing spouses, car accident litigants, bankruptcy trustee, and business failure.

While some of the differences between wills and trusts are subtle; others are not. Together, we’ll take a look at your goals as well as your financial and family situation and design an estate plan tailored to your needs.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
www.yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family