Proper estate planning is essential for people of all ages. Here are some tips from a Dunedin estate planning attorney to help you get the most out of your estate plan.
- Will and/or Trust
- Health Care Directive
- Power of Attorney
A will is a testamentary document which nominates an executor to administer, and names beneficiaries to inherit, your estate. You can also make provisions for minor children, including naming a guardian for them.
Consult with your Dunedin estate planning attorney to determine whether a trust is advisable for you. The advantages of a trust include the ability to avoid probate (a court process administering your estate after your death), potential tax advantages, and privacy. Unlike a will, which becomes a public record, your trust generally will avoid probate and allow your estate plan not to become publicly known.
Your advance directive for health care allows you to direct your end-of-life care as well as nominates agents who can make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.
Your Dunedin estate planning lawyer can draft a power of attorney on your behalf which names your agents who will act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. You need not empower your agents now, but planning in advance can allow your named agent to swiftly manage your estate if you are incapacitated and ensure that your obligations are being met and your family is protected.
Once in place, you should regularly review your estate plan with your attorney to ensure that your needs are continuing to be met. Most changes to estate plans result from the following:
- Change in tax laws
- Change in family circumstances such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces
- Change in net worth
- Change in assets owned
- Moving your residence
- Purchase or sale of a business
- Minor children reaching adulthood
- Change in the choice of named executors, successor trustees, and agents.
It is very important to discuss each of these changes with your attorney as they happen. For example, a change in tax laws could mean that you are not getting the most from your estate plan as written. Similarly, consultation with your lawyer could alert you as to issues regarding your investment portfolio.
Contact a Dunedin Estate Planning Attorney
Contact Mr. Coleman at the Coleman Law Firm at 727.461.7474 or toll free at 866.461.7474 to prepare or review your estate plan.
Proper estate planning can ensure that your wishes are observed, and you and your loved ones are protected.
Health Care Decisions Explained By a Clearwater Estate Law Attorney
Have you considered who will assist you in the event you cannot make health care decisions yourself? What if you are in an accident and cannot be consulted about your own health care? What if you require long-term care? These are real issues faced by many. Ensure that your wishes are known and that your desired agents are empowered to carry out those decisions through consultation with a Clearwater estate law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm.
Guardianship of Minor Children
Proper estate planning with a Clearwater estate law attorney can ensure that you have provided for minor children. Who will be their guardians? Will their guardian also be the financial trustee of your estate? These decisions must be carefully considered.
A Loved One with Special Needs
If you have a family member who will inherit, is that person suited to manage the assets received? Perhaps your loved one has a disability qualifying for public assistance. Will an inheritance disqualify them from receiving future benefits?
Issues Which May Endanger an Inheritance
Perhaps your loved one has or had a substance abuse issue for which management of an inheritance is warranted. Does a family member have a marriage which may end in divorce? Does a family member have a spending problem, or perhaps he or she is not adept at managing assets. In any of these cases, you may consider establishing a trust which would benefit that family member without risking the loss of the estate through profligate or unwise spending. A candid discussion with your Clearwater estate law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm can address potential problems and identify solutions.
A probated will is a public record, meaning that anyone could conduct a search to determine what assets are in an estate and who the beneficiaries are. A trust can avoid this situation since it is a private document which is generally administered without court intervention.
Transferring assets through inheritance or gifts can lead to unintended tax consequences. Estate, capital gains, income, and gift taxes are just a few traps for the unwary, the impact of which consultation and proper planning with your Clearwater estate law attorney can minimize.
Call the Coleman Law Firm at (727) 461-7474 to discuss these and other estate planning issues.
If you are in the process of settling your estate and preparing it for your beneficiaries, a Tampa estate attorney advises why you need an attorney in fact.
An attorney in fact is the person otherwise known as the designated agent in regards to your document of power of attorney. According to a Tampa estate lawyer, this person is given the authority to handle everything under the scope of the power of attorney:
- Your personal financial affairs;
- The execution of contracts;
- Motor vehicle registration;
- Bank account transactions;
- Tax returns; and
- Real estate sales.
When the power of attorney is considered â€œdurable,â€ the attorney will have power even if you are incapacitated.
The decision to select an attorney in fact is very important, as the right choice will allow you peace of mind that your affairs will be handled exactly how you specified.
A Tampa estate attorney advises that an attorney of fact must fulfill one of the two requirements in Florida:
- Must be 18 years or older and of sound mind; and
- Must be a financial institution located in Florida and have trust powers.
When choosing an attorney, a Tampa estate attorney recommends that you have complete faith in that person’s legal abilities. If you trust the competence, loyalty and devotion of your attorney, then you should proceed to make the power effective immediately. The original document should be left in the care of your attorney to make sure it is safe.
If your faith in your attorney is not strong, you may not want to grant power of attorney.
Other considerations for selecting an attorney in fact:
- Is the attorney close or convenient to you, geographically?
- Is the attorney willing to serve on your behalf?
- Does your attorney get along with the person you want to designate as your health care surrogate?
For more information regarding attorney in fact, contact a Tampa estate attorney from the Coleman Law Firm by calling 727-461-7474.
Federal tax law includes a provision for a marital tax deduction. This deduction may be used by a surviving spouse to receive gifts or bequests from their deceased spouse without the imposition of the estate tax. However, when the property in the estate transfers to subsequent beneficiaries, typically the couple’s children, upon the death of the surviving spouse, the estate tax is then imposed. In this way, the law ensures that property that’s not taxed because of the marital deduction is subject to the estate tax in the estate of the surviving spouse. At least, the property that remains at that time is taxed later, according to a Tampa estate planning lawyer.
Common Types of Marital Deduction Trusts
There are two primary types of marital deduction trusts: general power of appointment trusts (GPOA) and qualified terminable interest trusts (QTIP).
For the purposes of the marital deduction, an outright bequest or gift is not necessary. A trust alone qualifies on a federal estate tax return.
With a GPOA trust, the entire trust is included in the surviving spouse’s estate, so it is fairly cut and dry. A Tampa estate planning lawyer is still needed to ensure the trust is managed properly.
QTIP trusts tend to be a little complicated. With this type of trust, the surviving spouse doesn’t have to be given power of appointment for property to qualify for the marital deduction. The spouse does not have life-long power to appoint trust property to anyone else, either. Rather, the surviving spouse receives income from the assets of the trust for the rest of his or her life. The principal, however, is left to other parties, typically the couple’s children.
A QTIP trust, then, takes advantage of the marital deduction, provides income for the surviving spouse and controls the eventual beneficiaries. It allows the first spouse to ultimately control the way in which property is eventually dispersed when his or her spouse dies. Due to the complicated nature of this type of trust, the assistance of a Tampa estate planning lawyer is strongly recommended.
As any Tampa estate planning attorney can attest, there’s one significant disadvantage to using a QTIP trust: conflict between the surviving spouse and beneficiaries regarding issues like tax strategy, trust administration, investment strategy and the adequacy of accountings.
Contact a Tampa Estate Planning Attorney Today
Setting up the appropriate trust to take advantage of the marital deduction is complicated. The assistance of an experienced Tampa estate planning lawyer is crucial. Contact Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474 now.
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