The Basics Of Estate Planning For Families With Special Needs Children

Every time you have a child, you should change your estate plan. However, if you have any children with special needs you need to ensure that you craft a plan with the special needs in mind. Understanding the basics of estate planning for children with special needs, you will ensure that your child is looked after when you are gone.

Using A Special Needs Trust

If you have a child with special needs, you have to employ the right tools when planning your estate. One of the most commonly used tools is a Special Needs Trust. This type of trust has been specially developed with children and adults with special needs in mind. The trust aims at meeting your child’s financial needs while ensuring that they are able to remain eligible for government assistance and health care.

As the funds will be held in a trust, your child will not be able to directly access them. This will also ensure that the funds do not count as an asset or income which is considered when determining eligibility for certain benefits. The trustee of the trust will use the funds to meet the needs of your child as they grow older.

Choosing A Guardian

When planning your estate, you will need to carefully consider who will be designated as the guardian of your child. This person will generally be in charge of the funds that you have left for your child and will need to have their best interests in mind. They should also be someone who is able to handle their special needs.

Before you name a guardian in your estate planning, you need to discuss this with the potential guardians. This will help them understand their responsibilities and help you ensure that your child will have adequate assistance in their new living situation.

Document Instructions And Assistance

As part of your estate planning, you should document any special care instructions for your child. This will include their medications as well as the mental and physical care directions people should know. You should also consider making a video of any assistance that your child needs as this could be a great benefit to any potential guardian.

Estate planning for families with special needs children is different to standard estate planning. The use of a trust can make this more complicated which is why it is recommended that you hire an attorney to help you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What You Need To Know About Medicaid Planning

Medicaid was designed to help low-income people with few assets pay for their health care. While Medicare pays for many medical expenses when you are over 65, it won’t pay for nursing home care which can be prohibitively expensive. If you own any large assets, like a house, you won’t be able to qualify for Medicaid to help pay your expenses. With Medicaid planning, you can divest your assets so you can qualify for this government help.

When you need long-term care, your money won’t last long, even if you are a millionaire. You could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on medical care and your money would be gone fast. Paying for long-term care is just about impossible if you aren’t a multi-millionaire.

If you think you might need Medicaid and you own a house, you might want to gift or transfer the house to your beneficiary early. This will reduce your assets and make your income low enough to qualify for Medicaid help. In most cases, you can only have a few thousand dollars in assets. If you own your home, you either have to sell it or allow the Medicaid program to put a lien on your home so they can be repaid.

If you have assets but they won’t be enough to pay for your long-term care, there are ways to protect your assets so you have something to leave to your heirs. You can get help from an estate planner and you can also learn about the different things you can do on your own.

An asset protection trust is one option, but you have to set it up at least five years before you apply for Medicaid or you won’t be able to get the help you need. A benefit of an asset protection trust is that you can live in your home as long as you want.

One of the most important things when it comes to Medicaid planning is that you need to think ahead so you can shed your assets at least five years before you need Medicaid. The costs of long-term care are so expensive that you can quickly run through your money, leaving nothing left to your heirs. Medicaid planning helps you preserve your assets and shelter your assets so you can provide something of value to your loved ones.

What are Digital Assets anyway?

With the vast amount of business, commerce, innovation and even invention happening in cyberspace it is understandable that digital content can suddenly begin to increase in value. Digital assets could be considered files or databases with higher value than most.

Digital assets can include videos, text documents, images, advertisements, digital artwork and many other types of files that are stored in a digital format.

Assets versus files

So, are all files assets? When does a file transcend to the category of assets? Not all files are assets, but files that have a value to the organization holding them could be assets depending on its worth to the company.

Files that have value must be stored securely so they won’t be accessed, reused or manipulated without authorization as this could be counterproductive to the goals of the organization. Companies will apply DAM or Data Asset Management techniques to securing this type of information behind a wall of specialized software. One advantage of this is the Metadata description that can be applied to the data assets and make information easier to locate and access for authorized persons, and also carries information on how this data should be used and understood.

Examples of digital assets

Images

One of the most common types of data assets are image. Many times, the images stored are products of considerable time, planning and even cash investments and should therefore require higher security than most. Furthermore, the way an image is used and how it is applied must be performed according to predetermined parameters and distribution rights.

Ads

Ads are another digital asset that can be especially expensive and deserves to be looked after carefully. Just like images are stored securely, your Digital Asset Management system will be able to carry the information needed for using the ad in question and present this prior to your download.

Videos

Videos have greater and greater use in marketing programs, internal training programs and more. It is important that these assets are circulated in a orderly fashion and in respect to company regulations.

Logos
As the essential banner or insignia of the company, this image will receive a lot of use and application. A proper DAM will keep this file from falling into the hands of a troll or being misapplied in any other way. This will also allow your partners to access your logo simply and easily

The Basics About A Lady Bird Deed

If you live in the state of Florida, you need to know about a lady bird deed. This is a relatively new type of deed which is why most people do not actually know how it works. It is recommended that you know what this deed is as well as how it works and what it can do for you.

What Is A Lady Bird Deed?

A lady bird deed is a new type of deed in the state of Florida. The deed allows a property to be passed automatically to a recipient upon the death of the deed owner. The primary benefit of a lady bird deed, when compared to a traditional deed, is the fact that there will be no need for probate. It is important to note that Florida is only one of a handful of states that actually recognizes lady bird deed. Some of the other states will include Texas.

How A Lady Bird Deed Works

If you decide to use a lady bird deed, you need to understand how it works. To use this deed, you will have to sign a deed that transfers your property to a group of people or single person known as the remainder beneficiaries upon your death. However, the deed will state that you have the right to sell, use and otherwise handle the property while you are still alive.

If you have a lady bird deed and choose to sell the property or re-mortgage during your lifetime, you can do so without consulting the remainder beneficiaries. This is the primary difference between a lady bird deed and a life estate deed which is often used as well. If you do this, you will need to update your other legal documents to reflect the change.

After passing, your remainder beneficiaries will need to file your death certificate with the land records office. This needs to be done as proof that the lady bird deed is to be transferred to the beneficiaries. When this transfer is done, there will be no need for probate which can save your family a lot of heartache.

The Advantages Of The Lady Bird Deed

A lady bird deed allows you to retain control of your property while you are still alive and using it. Other deeds may require you to consult with the remainder beneficiaries before you sell or re-mortgage the property. You will also avoid triggering any Federal gift tax on the transfer in your lifetime as well as avoiding probate of the property after your death.

The Fundamentals of Asset Protection

Asset protection is all about the best ways to safeguard your accumulated wealth. It wouldn’t be called “wealth” if there were not a thousand different ways it could change hands in an instant. To name a few, we have death and illness as well as elemental catastrophes and the misdeeds of the felonious.

The only defense against misfortune is preparation and a plan to recover the value of your accumulated possessions, properties and wealth. If some sort of asset protection is not applied, you can stand to lose it all at the toss of a die.

The Basics of Asset Protection

Fortunately, there are many ways the prudent can make their cash resources and accumulated wealth unavailable to creditors and beyond the reach of natural and unnatural disasters. All the techniques and methods applied to protect a hoarded cache are constituents of an asset protection plan and an essential part of estate planning.

You can begin to assemble your own plan, or you can consult your attorney to aid in this regard. Unless you have extensive experience with this, the latter may prove to the better option of the two. If your accumulated wealth is higher than $1 million, a qualified lawyer will be imperative due to the complex tax issues that arise in such high quantities of cash. You can also personalized advice on many specific techniques that are appropriate for your situation and portfolio.

Some of the more specific techniques may include:

–Buying life insurance
–Transferring assets to a limited liability company
–Creating an irrevocable or testamentary trust
–Making a Donation to charity
–Acquiring a homestead property
–Giving gifts to family or other personal associates

These are all legal ways of protecting assets that have been tried and proven to preserve wealth in the worst of times. There is also a plethora of ways assets can be preserved that are not exactly “legal” and even those in the “shady gray area” can invite a severe problem. Be sure you steer clear of any actions that could possibly be interpreted as tax evasion. If you are not sure, discuss the matter with your lawyer.

The important conclusion of this lesson is that pitfalls assail your wealth on all sides and proper protection methods can keep you safe, happy and wealthy. This is called “asset protection” and an important part of your estate management plan. Be very careful of the methods you use or expert advice before you attempt to protect your assets as a false step can carry severe consequences.

Probate Administrator – Duties And Responsibilities

The estate of a person goes through the probate process on his death. The person who is assigned the duty of administering the management of estate through the probate process is known as probate administrator. If the person has left behind a bill, and an executor is named in the will for administration of the management of the estate, this person is officially appointed by the court for administration of the estate.

In case there is no will or an executor is not named in the will, a probate administrator who is also known as a personal representative, is appointed by the court. Here is a list of some of the major duties and responsibilities of a probate administrator.

Appraisal

The first major step is to open the estate and make an inventory. For proper distribution of the assets, the administrator will need to take an inventory of all the assets. In some cases, the administrator will also need to get some items appraised in order to get an idea of their value. Appraisal becomes particularly important in case the assets need to be liquefied in order to distribute estate funds as outlined in the will.

Effective Asset Management

Another important responsibility of a probate administrator is to manage the assets under the estate in an effective manner until the completion of the probate process. The administrator has a fiduciary duty to take proper care of the assets. It means paying the mortgage on time, making some investment decisions and maintaining the property. It is the duty of the administrator to make prudent investments.

Record Keeping

Keeping track of assets is an important part of the overall responsibilities of a probate administrator. The accounting and records are reviewed by the court which makes record keeping vital to the overall process. It is the duty of the probate administrator to keep the personal assets and estate assets separate.

Estate Closure

The estate assets may need to be sold by the administrator in order to satisfy any creditors and the remaining assets are distributed as per the will once the creditors have been paid. In case of absence of a will, the distribution is made as per the laws of succession of or state’s laws. The administrator may also be required to provide final accounting to the court, depending on state law, before or after distribution of the remaining assets.

Fiduciary Duty

As mentioned above, the probate administrator has a fiduciary duty to act in good faith on behalf of the estate.

How To Make An Incapacity Plan

Becoming incapacitated is probably one of the last things you want to think about and we all want to stay healthy forever. Unfortunately, you never know what is going to happen in life and it is important to have an incapacity plan in place to deal with your estate should you become incapacitated.

This plan will ensure that your assets go to where you want them to go and that your heirs don’t have any problems getting their inheritance. An incapacity plan will ensure that there is someone to make healthcare decisions for you that you trust will follow your wishes.

When you have an incapacity plan, someone will be there to handle your finances and take care of any issues that could affect you. It is important to have one of these plans because you can’t control what is going to happen to you and things could get ugly if you don’t have one. Your estate could end up in the hands of the wrong person and you could end up with someone acting on your behalf that you wouldn’t want in that position.

If you don’t have a plan in place and something happens to you, the court is going to appoint someone to handle your affairs and this person might not be the person you want to handle things for you. Also, the entire process is going to be supervised by the court which is going to cost time and money. If you don’t want to find yourself in this nightmare scenario, it is important that you set up legal documents like a Power of Attorney and appoint someone to handle your affairs when you become incapacitated.

The Power of Attorney is the most popular way to do this. It is a legal and binding document that gives someone else the authority to make medical decisions, sell assets, and pay your bills if you are unable to do it. A broad Power of Attorney allows this person to handle any type of financial matter.

If you want to protect yourself, you will need to see a lawyer to draw up the documents. Think very carefully about who you want to act on your behalf. It has to be someone you trust and someone who is going to have the time to make all these decisions for you. An incapacity plan is essential as you get older.

Reasons You May Need Trust Litigation

Trust litigation is a rough time no matter who’s involved. It’s not the sort of thing undertaken lightly. After all, everyone is already grieving from the loss of a friend or loved one. The last thing anyone wants to do is deal with the legal system.

If you’re uncertain what trust litigation is or how it functions, don’t worry. The basic concept is simple.

What Is Trust Litigation

A trust is a legal agreement stating that a particular person or group is allowed to execute the last wishes of the deceased according to a legal will and testimony. Living wills are a well-known part of life and death, at least in the United States and other countries with similar estate laws.

Trust litigation is a lawsuit against the trustee, usually because others involved feel the trustee is not executing the will appropriately. From there, it’s fairly easy to understand why this particular form of litigation exists.

Reasons For Trust Litigation

When other beneficiaries feel the trustee is acting inappropriately, they may file suit. There are a number of reasons for this, some more pressing than others.

Unreasonable Delay

This is always difficult to navigate since “unreasonable” can be subjective. However, if time drags on and there are excuses rather than execution then it may be time to call a lawyer.

Sudden Changes

Changes have to be made on occasion, but usually only after all beneficiaries have agreed. If there’s a sudden change then you should ask questions. And if the change seems to favor the trustee over the other beneficiaries, then you should call a lawyer.

Underselling

Sometimes assets must be sold off under market value. There are many assets which may be costly and time-consuming to maintain, and people often sell them at incredibly low prices just to be rid of them. But if the trustee seems to be selling an unusually high number of assets at these low rates, you may need a lawyer.

Ultimately, any time an issue between the trustee and the other beneficiaries can’t be resolved then trust litigation is the answer. The courts tend to try other solutions first, however. Mediation is often used, and it can work quite well.

Unfortunately, sometimes everything else fails and standing in front of a judge is the only option. If you find yourself in this situation, then call a lawyer. Many lawyers will offer a free consultation, and you can get a better idea of whether or not litigation is the right option.

Various Differences Between Revocable And Irrevocable Trust

There are many differences between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust when it comes to tax and legal consequences. It is important to understand the difference between these two different types in order to make sure you are making the right choice for your needs.

Asset Ownership

In case of an irrevocable trust, all the assets transferred to the trust belong to the trust and not to be Grantor. It’s also important to understand that assets are there for the benefit of the Grantor but the legal ownership belongs to the trust. In case of a revocable trust, the ownership of the assets is retained by the Grantor.

Estate Taxes

In case of an irrevocable trust, the asset ownership lies with the trust which means the assets are not included in the estate tax calculations at the time of death. On the other hand, the ownership lies with the Grantor in case of a revocable trust and the assets are included in the calculation at the time of death for the purpose of estate taxes. In other words, irrevocable trust protects from estate taxes whereas revocable trust does not.

Modifications

As the name suggests, no changes can usually be made to an irrevocable trust agreement. On the other hand, the agreement can be revoked or modified at the Grantor’s discretion in case of a revocable trust. It’s also important for you to know that under certain conditions, changes can be made to the agreement in case of an irrevocable trust.

Income Tax

When it comes to a revocable trust, the trust is granted its own tax identification number. The trust pays the tax itself or issues a K-1 to the Grantor. On the other hand, the taxpayer has to show everything in their own tax return in case of a revocable trust.

Independent Trustee

In case of an irrevocable trust, the trustee is usually an independent person who has a fiduciary duty to protect the assets under the trust. The trustee is supposed to exercise independent control over the assets of the trust. In case of a revocable trust, the Grantor usually also serves as the trustee and maintains complete control over the trust assets.

Conclusion

Overall, the major difference between these two types of trusts is the purpose. An irrevocable trust is established for protection of assets as assets included in an irrevocable trust are protected from estate taxes and probate process. It also protects the assets from frivolous lawsuits whereas a revocable trust is usually established only to avoid the probate process.

As far as choosing between these two types of trusts is concerned, it depends on the needs of the Grantor. It is recommended to consult with an expert in order to determine the appropriate choice for a particular situation.

Recognizing Common Estate Planning Fraud Situations

Preying on the elderly is a despicable act, but one that has become more common in recent years. It’s important to act early to prevent estate fraud from affecting your loved ones. Recognizing the most common types of estate planning fraud will help you step in if an elderly family member is being taken advantage of.

There are two main types of estate fraud: fraudulent acts and undue influence. Both types rely on an elderly person trusting someone they shouldn’t to an extent where they change their will or other financial documents. However, this goal is achieved through different means.

Fraudulent Acts

This type of estate planning fraud is more easily recognized as a crime or a scam. Generally, fraud considered a “fraudulent act” is based on false statements made by someone to the elderly person signing the will. These statements cause them to change their will or the terms of a trust in response.

These statements might be made by someone pretending to be a family member, for example, a long-estranged sibling, or they might come from someone claiming to be in the government. Luckily for everyone involved, if you can prove that the terms of a trust or will were changed as the result of false representation, the document is invalid.

Undue Influence

This type of estate planning fraud tends to be a lot harder on families and on the victim, as it involves someone close to the victim. Undue influence occurs when someone important to the elderly person convinces them to change the terms of their estate planning documents to something other than their original intentions.

Many elderly people become completely dependent on one of their children or an outside caregiver as they age. This person can end up over-ruling the elderly person’s original wishes for their estate. This does not mean that the caregiver necessarily instilled fear in the victim; undue influence fraud can be the product of a close, kind, and seemingly loving relationship.

Proving that undue influence fraud has occurred requires the family of the victim to prove three things:
– the caregiver had the opportunity to convince the victim to change their estate planning documents,
– the caregiver and the victim had a strong, trusting relationship, and
– the caregiver stands to benefit monetarily from the changes.

The first step to preventing or reversing estate planning fraud is recognizing when it is happening. It’s not always easy to accept that a loved one is being misled, but it’s important to pay attention to the signs.