Tag: Estate Plan

Moving to a New State? Here are 3 Key Reasons Why You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

Did you move back to your home state during the pandemic after having lived away during college and afterwards? It may have been a move that you did not really plan for. If you have decided to stay, however, you should consider taking control now. Whether you are single and starting life anew, or you moved closer to family for help with your kids, it can be important to ensure you have a solid estate plan in place in your new home state. Let us discuss three reasons why.

1. You Should Have Estate Planning Documents Anyway. If you moved to a new state and you only had minimal estate planning in place, now may be the perfect time to execute documents in your new home state. Many young, single adults do not have formal estate plans. Those who are newly married or became parents during the pandemic often do not have them either, even if you have been meaning to get around to it. Now may be the perfect time. Consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney in your new state can help ensure you have everything you need in place.

2. You Should Consider a New Health Care Surrogate. If you did have an estate plan where you used to live, it is likely that you named a health care surrogate who lived in that state. Most states only allow you to choose a state resident for this purpose. If you had chosen a local friend, but you are now back living near family, you may want to update your choice of health care surrogate to someone you trust who lives near your new home.

3. You Should Name a Guardian for Minor Children. If you became a parent during the pandemic, you may not have had the chance to name guardians for your child yet. When you update your estate planning documents for your new state, you can choose someone for the task. If you already had kids, but you have moved to a new state, the people you had chosen previously may no longer be suited to the role if your intent was to keep your kids in your new location should you pass away. If you update your estate planning documents now that you have moved, you can consider who might be the best choice for keeping your kids in their new home and update your guardianship arrangements if that is necessary.

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Estate Planning Tips Floridians Need When They Near the Proposed Tax Limits

Have you seen the  rise and fall in estate taxation rates making headlines these days? It seems to be more and more common, especially given the changes that often occur with new leadership at the federal level. Right now, the federal estate tax exemptions are so high that very few Americans need to be concerned with approaching the limits. The federal exclusion is approximately $11.7 million per individual person or $23.4 million for a married couple. Luckily for Floridians, the state of Florida does not impose any estate tax of its own in addition to the federal tax. Floridians who wish to be careful with their estate planning, however, may want to keep abreast of the proposed changes to the estate tax exemption at the federal level. 

The bill introduced to Congress in March proposes that the individual estate tax exemption be lowered to $3.5 million per person or $7 million for a married couple, reducing the current amounts by roughly two-thirds. Let us discuss some estate planning tips for Florida married couples who are nearing the proposed estate tax exemption limits.

You may want to consider creating a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT). This is because different types of irrevocable trusts, such as SLATs, may exclude your assets from being subject to estate tax if you are nearing the federal estate tax limits. Keep in mind that once you put money into an irrevocable trust, you cannot take it back, so if you are just nearing the proposed federal estate tax exemption limit you may want to shield only the funds necessary for exemption in a trust. A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust may work for a long-married couple. The donor spouse makes a gift to the trust for the other spouse’s benefit. Any appreciation of assets gifted to the trust will be excluded from the estate of both spouses for tax purposes, removing the need for the surviving spouse to pay taxes on the capital gains. 

You may also benefit from filing a surviving spouse return when needed. For a married couple, the combined estate tax limit can be important. Any part of the current $11.7 million individual exemption, or potential future $3.5 million individual exemption, that is not used when the first spouse passes away can be carried over to the other spouse. When the second spouse dies, they can use up to the full amount of the married couple credit. This is referred to as a Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion (DSUE). To obtain this benefit, the second spouse has to file a federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) upon the first spouse’s death and make the accurate election. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

What are the Different Types of Trusts to Use in Estate Planning?

Trusts are an estate planning tool created for the management of assets, both during your life and after your death. Are there different types of trusts to use in estate planning? Yes, there are several types. They can, however, be divided into a couple of categories, which may make them much easier to understand. 

First of all, trusts can be either living or testamentary. Living trusts, also known as inter vivos trusts, are created while the trustor is still living. There are also testamentary trusts, which are created by a trustor after his or her death. 

Secondly, trusts are either revocable or irrevocable. In simplest terms, this speaks to whether or not they can be changed or revoked after they are created. There can be important legal implications of choosing between revocable or irrevocable. 

A revocable trust is created by a trustor, who also remains as the beneficiary until his or her passing, and then passes onto the successor trustee and beneficiaries. The easiest way to envision a revocable trust may be one created by a married couple, who remain as both co-trustors and co-beneficiaries until their passing and then, an adult child becomes the successor trustee and their other children, and possibly grandchildren, become the successor beneficiaries. A revocable trust can be revoked or changed at any time prior to the original trustor’s death. Accordingly, there are no tax benefits. Essentially, the revocable trust can function as a means of distributing assets to beneficiaries while avoiding the timely and costly probate process. 

As the name implies, once an irrevocable trust is created it cannot be changed, except under rather limited circumstances. Once the assets are transferred to the trust, they are no longer considered to be the property of the trustor, but rather, are the property of the trust. The benefits include limiting or eliminating both income and estate tax and usually the trust property cannot be reached by the trustor’s creditors. Another key draw of the irrevocable trust may be because the assets of the trust are no longer the property of the trustor, they are not considered, when determining the trustor’s eligibility for government programs, such as Medicaid, which can make them an integral tool in long-term care planning. Along the same lines, a special needs trust, which is most typically created to provide for an adult disabled child following the passing of their parents is most usually irrevocable, assuring the disabled child remains eligible for government programs. 

Now that you have an understanding of the fundamentals of trusts, it is a great time to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss how best to meet your estate planning goals. Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Choosing the Right Estate Planning Attorney in Your Area

Does choosing the right estate planning attorney to help you create an estate plan seem like an overwhelming task? It can be understandable to feel like this. With these tips, however, it can be easier to narrow your choices to a few qualified attorneys in your area. Let us discuss these tips for choosing the right estate planning attorney in your area.

You might want to first start your search by asking your accountant or financial planner for recommendations. Estate planning can be a critical part of financial planning and money management. Drafting a will, a health care proxy, or power of attorney, as well as creating a trust, and maximizing your loved ones’ inheritances by minimizing taxes can all be important financial matters that often benefit from the specialized knowledge of an estate planning attorney. If your financial advisor and accountant have not already brought up estate planning, ask them who did their estate plan, and whether they would recommend their estate planning attorney.

You could also ask other attorneys for recommendations. You may have already worked with an attorney on another matter, perhaps setting up a business, buying a home, or reviewing a contract. Lawyers are often happy to refer their clients to other lawyers who practice in other areas of expertise, and they will want to refer you to good attorneys so that you will trust them again when you next need their assistance. Ask your former attorney who did his or her estate plan, and for references, so you can choose the right estate planning attorney in your area.

Contacting the state or local bar association may also be a good idea. State and local bar associations offer referral services or a searchable directory of attorneys with their practice areas. These services can make choosing the right estate planning attorney in your area as easy as a Google search. 

Your friends may also act as a solid referral source. While a staggering number of people do not have estate plans, there are many who do. Ask your friends if they have a will or a trust, and if so, who the attorney was that drafted it. Let friends know that you want to choose the right estate planning attorney in your area, and that you want to know if they worked with a great attorney. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Why a Florida Prenup Should Be at the Top of Your Estate Planning To Do List

Were you aware that a Florida prenup can be a useful tool in estate planning? While most people assume that prenuptial agreements are only used to protect assets in the event of divorce, this is far from the only reason why many engaged couples choose to create one. 

Couples can use a Florida prenup to designate which assets should be considered separate property, and which are community or shared property. Making this distinction before marriage can prevent separate assets from being wrongly classified as community property when a spouse dies. This may be particularly useful for second or subsequent marriages, or for those who are marrying later in life or who have accumulated significant assets prior to the marriage. In some states, marriage entitles each spouse to a share of your estate (between a third to a half, depending on where you live). If you intend to leave less than that amount to your spouse, he or she has the power to request a higher percentage, which can leave your intended beneficiaries with less. 

Another reason why many couples choose to have a prenuptial agreement is to avoid disputes about money or property during the marriage. For a prenuptial agreement to be valid and legally binding, both parties must fully disclose their assets, properties, and debts in the agreement. Due to their financial picture being clear, there are fewer disagreements about how to manage their assets. 

Another common instance where a Florida prenup may be useful may be in the case of a closely-held family business. Often, business owners require only family members to be owners of the business and its holdings. If during a divorce, the business is determined to be partially owned by both spouses, the non-familial spouse could end up being an owner. In order to alleviate that situation, restrictions could be placed in the business’s agreements, or by transferring ownership of the business to a trust. A prenuptial agreement that describes the business as separate property and sets forth the rights and restrictions on ownership, however, would be another layer of protection for the business. 

Do you have questions on a Florida prenup and using it in your estate planning? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

 

Three Key Veterans Benefits to Know About This November

With Veteran’s Day, November is a great opportunity to set aside time to honor our veterans and thank them for all they have done for our great nation. One way the U.S. tries to give back to veterans is through veterans benefit programs. Did you know, however, that veterans benefits can be very complicated and many veterans may not even be fully aware of the wide range of benefit programs available to them? Let us take time to review three key veterans benefits to know about this November.

First, there are several education benefits offered through the VA. In addition to the GI Bill offering credits to use towards a college degree, it also provides coverage for training certification courses and vocational training programs. The fact that the GI Bill offers these kinds of training opportunities makes it ideal for those veterans who are seeking a career change that does not require a college degree. Veterans can also participate in free coding bootcamps and comparable software training and technology programs through the VET TEC program.

Second, veterans have the option of getting life insurance through the Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program. Through this program, veterans may be able to receive up to $400,000 in life insurance. Not only does this program offer competitive premium rates, but it can allow veterans a chance to gain life insurance where they may find it difficult to find it otherwise. Many veterans face difficulties in getting traditional life insurance and this can be particularly true if they have suffered a service-related injury.

Lastly, veterans should be aware of the long-term care benefits they may be eligible to receive. For instance, the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefits program offers qualifying veterans financial assistance in order to cover the cost of a nursing home and other long-term care facilities. In fact, the program means that couples may receive upwards of $25,000 a year in benefits to help with long-term care costs 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Update Your Estate Plan

As another year comes to a close and a new one begins, it’s a great time to take stock of the many changes life has brought your way and what’s to come. It’s also a good time to think about your estate plan. Many people review their estate plan at a regular frequency, often when they go over their whole financial plan. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA says ‘In addition to regular reviews, it’s a good idea to review and update your plan at life events, like the birth of a child, when a child or grandchild becomes an adult or when they go to college, if you have to care for an adult, if there are changes in your financial goals, illness or disability of your spouse. And of course, marriage or divorce.’

She continues to say that there are many others reasons and that reviewing your plan goes beyond major life events. She suggests you should check your plan at regular intervals, such as a new year. This will help ensure that your legacy, both financial and otherwise, is passed on in accordance with your wishes and that your beneficiaries receive their benefits as smoothly as possible.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs. Do not wait to contact their office for support.

The New Federal Tax Law Offers Plenty of Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

“When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lawmakers included a huge increase in the federal estate tax exemption., which now stands at $11.2 million through 2025, with adjustments for inflation. You may think because you don’t have that much money, you can put your estate planning on the back burner.

Anne Desormier Cartwright of Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys PA says that could be a mistake:

“”First, it’s always a good idea to review your estate plan, regardless of whether federal or state tax laws change. A marriage, a death in the family, or the birth of a grandchild are just a few other reasons to revamp your plan, not to mention if you’ve changed your mind since you last addressed your estate documents.””

There is no better time to get started than the beginning of a new year to update your plans with a trusted estate planning attorney. It’s critically important to craft legally sound paperwork to ensure your final wishes are followed, and your loved ones are supported through your lifelong work.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs. They are here to help you and your loved ones both now and in the future. Do not wait to contact them with your questions.”

How a last will and testament can help you communicate your final wishes

The time to plan for what you want to happen after your death is now. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to communicate your final wishes to loved ones and outlines your directions for distribution of your property and possessions to individuals and charities, known as beneficiaries.

“A person writes a will while they are alive, and its instructions are carried out once the individual passes away. The will names a still-living person as the executor of the estate. The probate court usually supervises the executor to ensure that wishes specified in the will are carried out.” says Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA.

A last will and testament is not only a financial document. It also provides your directions for the care of your children and assigns guardianship, according to your wishes.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

Why estate planning is the most important gift you can give to your family.

The holidays are a great time to make a list of what you’re grateful for. More than likely, family is at the top of the list. It can be frightening to consider how your loved ones will fare after you’re gone, but a sound estate plan can provide a sense of security your family deserves.

“Estate planning reduces the costs associated with Guardianship and probate, preserving available tax exemptions. When appropriate, it provides an umbrella of wealth protection for your surviving spouse, children and grandchildren. It is an ongoing process that allows you to change, add, and cancel details at will.” says Anne Desormier Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA..

When you’re exchanging gifts with family this holiday season, start thinking about how to plan your estate. It could be the most important gift your family will ever get from you.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.