A Living Trust is a legal document, that just like a Last Will &
Testament, outlines how your assets are to be distributed after your
die. The Trust is created now, while your are alive, hence the name
Living Trust. In addition, since it is a revocable Trust, the terms of
the Trust can be changed at any time throughout your lifetime, as
situations in you life may dictate.
As Trustee of your Living Trust, you retain the full control of your
assets and can do anything with them that you did before – buy, sell,
trade or give away. Your income tax returns are filed in the same way
you always filed. Nothing changes but the names on the titles to the
The Living Trust also names a Successor Trustee, someone who will
administer the Trust in the event of your incapacity or death. The
Successor Trustee can be an individual, several individuals working
together or a bank or Trust company.
Most informed people consider the Living Trust, also known as a
Revocable Living Trust, the estate planning tool of choice for the
Probate Avoidance:All assets held by your Living Trust at the time of
your death avoid the cost and delay of probate. A Living Trust can hold
both assets, including real property, located in Florida and outside of
Florida, therefore avoiding probate administrations in multiple states.
Guardianship Avoidance: Unlike a Last Will & Testament, the
Living Trust makes provisions in the event of your incapacity or
disability due to an illness or accident. The person you name, your
Successor Trustee, will have access to the assets in the Trust for one
purpose only, your health, maintenance and support. A Living Trust can
also direct that you be kept in your own home, for as long as feasibly
possible, with a nurse or companion brought in. It is our experience
that clients who stay in their own homes do better for a longer period
of time than those who are transferred to a health care facility.
Unlike a Last Will & Testament, the only people who see your Living
Trust are those you show it to. When a Last Will is probated, it
becomes a matter public record, exposing your heirs to unscrupulous
solicitors and disgruntled family members.
For married couples with a taxable estate, the Living Trust may offer
additional advantages. By utilizing a Credit Shelter Trust (sometimes
called A-B Trusts or Bypass Trusts), couples can pass both of their
estate tax exemptions, tax free to the beneficiaries. Since the rate
for Federal Estate Taxes begins at 45%, the use of Credit Shelter
Trusts can significantly increase the amount of hard earned assets
being passed to your beneficiaries.
A Living Trust should be
drafted by a qualified, elder law attorney as part of a complete estate
plan. Since the Trust will dictate what will happen if your pass or
become ill, it is not advisable to use any do-it yourself forms. All
estate plans drafted by this office are customized to fit each client's
individual goals and objectives.
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