Estate Planning and Fiduciary Management

Clearwater estate attorney Lawyers Business MeetingA fiduciary is a person who holds something in trust for another, such as management of assets. In estate planning, fiduciaries are deemed to have a great deal of power and authority in the management of one’s affairs and may be empowered to make decisions that are delicate and difficult when you, the testator, are not able. When planning your estate you will need to appoint one or more fiduciaries, and a Clearwater estate attorney will help in this regard.

Who Can Be Named Fiduciaries to Manage the Estate?

It is the duty of the named fiduciary to act on behalf of the testator and carry out responsibilities that serve his best interests. A fiduciary may be a person, but it may also be an entity. For instance, a tax advisor can be a fiduciary, but a bank, or your Clearwater estate law firm, may also assume this role.

It is important to point out that you should appoint individuals whom you feel are best suited to the various roles. You might also name one person to take on all of the fiduciary responsibilities. There is good reason for this. The individual you name must be someone you implicitly trust, one who you literally trust with your life. Moreover, you need to make sure that the person you name does not have a personal stake in your estate. This may exclude a spouse. The fiduciary may need at some point to make difficult decisions regarding the medical status of the testator, which may be hard for a spouse to do. You must also make sure that the person you name will not cause undue conflict in the family.

What Are the Specific Functions of the Fiduciary?

The fiduciary may make decisions when you are deemed incapacitated and unable to do so for yourself. Also, the fiduciary will carry out functions such as investing funds held in trust, offering financial planning advice and paying taxes. Your Clearwater estate attorney will tell you that when you choose the fiduciary, there are matters you need to consider:

• Does the person have sufficient knowledge of financial matters to help?
• Does he/she want to take on the role?
• Does the person live nearby, and will he/she be available when needed?

A Clearwater Estate Law Firm Can Help

If you are planning your estate and need to name fiduciaries, consult with a Clearwater estate attorney. Call Coleman Law Firm to arrange a meeting at 727-461-7474.

Charitable Trusts

Clearwater trusts attorney Father and Son Reviewing Estate Planning DocumentsOne of the chief goals of estate planning is to find ways of minimizing taxes on money left to beneficiaries. Sometimes settlors wish a portion of their assets to go to a charity as well. Charity trusts serve this purpose. The charitable remainder trust, or CRT, is one of the most common charitable trusts. A Clearwater trusts attorney will help you ascertain whether a charitable trust is right for you, and help you to set it up.

Charitable Remainder Trusts Explained

A CRT allows you, the settlor, to use part of the assets during your lifetime. A portion of the rest is left to named beneficiaries when you die, and the remainder goes to a charity that you name. The attorney with your Clearwater trusts law firm will tell you that one distinct disadvantage of this type of trust is that once it is established, you cannot add or remove beneficiaries. One way to circumvent this problem is to name heirs as contingent beneficiaries, which your will can order removed.

Types of Charitable Remainder Trusts

Three types of CRTs exist, and your Clearwater trusts attorney will help you choose which one is best suited to your needs: the unitrust, annuity trust or pooled income trust. While there are definite differences with each, in common is the fact that the named charity acts as trustee. The charity will invest the money in ways that will bring the highest return. It is the charity, then, that will pay assets out of the trust to beneficiaries for the appointed amount and duration.

It is important to note that the named charity must be one that is approved by the IRS for this purpose.

Tax Savings

You can enjoy tax advantages in a number of ways. For one, you can take a tax deduction spread over five years for the amount you gift to charity. It is important to note, however, that the IRS will calculate the amount you are likely to receive out of the CRT during your lifetime and deduct this amount from the tax-deductible gift.

You may also be able to help beneficiaries avoid a capital gains tax, since charities do not have to pay this. Unless your estate is very large, it is unlikely you will need to worry about an estate tax.

A Clearwater Trusts Law Firm Can Help You Establish a CRT

If you are interested in setting up a charitable trust or have questions, call a Clearwater trusts attorney today. Call Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Living Trusts

Clearwater trusts lawyer meeting with clientsA living trust is a popular estate planning tool a Clearwater trusts lawyer can create that can be useful during the lifetime of the person as well as make the distribution of assets after death less complicated and less expensive.

A Living Trust is Revocable

The person who creates the trust, called the settlor or grantor, creates the trust in their lifetime and can add to it, change it in any way or revoke it entirely in their lifetime.

Essential Components

A Clearwater trusts attorney can explain that a legal trust requires a grantor, at least one named beneficiary, a trustee and assets that are legally transferred to the trust. Most often, the grantor is also the original trustee and thus retains complete control over the management of the trust.


A well-crafted trust should contemplate the possibility that the grantor, or other named trustee, may become incapacitated. By naming a successor trustee who assumes trust management in the event the trustee can no longer handle trust management duties, the trust can continue to operate to pay bills and make investment decisions without the need for a court-ordered guardian.

Death of the Grantor

Typically, at the death of the grantor, the trust becomes irrevocable and the plan for distribution of the decedent’s assets is implemented. The primary exception is for a trust created for a married couple. In such a case, most commonly the surviving spouse becomes the sole trustee upon the death of the first, and the trust becomes irrevocable after the death of the survivor. In either case, a named successor trustee then manages the trust.

Living Trust Advantages

The primary advantage is the avoidance of probate for those assets that have been properly transferred to the trust. Title to those assets remains in the trust after the grantor’s death. Assets that are not in a trust need to go through probate to legally allow transfer of title from the name of the grantor to the name of the beneficiary. For large estates, there may also be a federal estate tax advantage where a married couple has a joint trust.

Contact a Clearwater Trusts Lawyer for Legal Advice

Learn whether a living trust provides an advantage over a standard will for your particular needs. Call the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.