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Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs Children

Families who have special needs children have to take extra care when creating their estate plans. Regardless of whether their special needs child is a minor or an adult, it is critical that they consider the possibility of the child’s needs now and in the future. Will the child need to receive needs-based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid? Will they have what they need and still be able to qualify? Estate planning considerations for a special needs child will depend on the child’s age, their level of competency, the family, and other considerations. The goal is simple: to use...

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What is a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust or supplemental needs trust as they are sometimes called, allows individuals to designate special needs individuals to receive gifts, legal settlements, or other funds without losing their eligibility for government benefits programs. This type of trust is drafted so that the funds are not considered as “belonging” to the beneficiary when their eligibility for public benefits is being determined. Special needs trusts (as the name implies) are designed to pay for comforts and luxuries that could not be paid for by public assistance funds. They are not intended to cover basic support costs. Instead they are designed...

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Know How the Probate Process Works

Probate is the legal process through which the court officially recognizes a will’s validity and supervises the designated executor. The executor carries out the wishes of the deceased individual according to the will. When someone passes away without a will or estate plan in place, probate is the legal process the court uses to supervise the carrying out of the distribution of the deceased’s estate in accordance with Florida state law. The majority of those designated as executors of an estate are new to probate court and the probate process as a whole. Know what to expect by considering the common...

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What is the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

Attorneys are often asked about the difference between elder law and estate planning. Most agree that the two go hand and hand, but there are differences between the two. One similarity is that they are both more universally necessary than they seem at first. More specifically, estate planning is not reserved for individuals with huge estates and elder law is not exclusively beneficial to individuals who can be described as elderly. Overview of Estate Planning: Estate planning focuses on a person’s assets, how they should be held while the person is still living and how they should be distributed after the...

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Tax Savings with Special Needs Trusts

The Special Needs Trust, sometimes referred to as Supplemental Support Trusts, provide support for someone that receives means tested benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) without affecting their eligibility for the benefits.  After a Special Needs Trust is established and funded, it is very important that the administration of the account be handled according to the rules regarding qualifying expenses. In order to qualify as a special needs trust, only specific expenses can be paid for using trust assets. In too many cases, a beneficiary is unintentionally disqualified from receiving their SSI or Medicaid benefits when expenses...

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Protecting Your Assets from Medicaid

There aren’t very many older adults who know and understand their rights and their available options in connection to long term care. This state of affairs can end up costing them and their family their financial stability as it can be disastrously expensive. Some don’t want to face the issue. Others go into their later years with faith that they will avoid the need for long term care entirely. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Americans turning 65 in today’s society have approximately 70% likelihood that they will need long-term care services or support during their lifetime....

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Estate Planning Gone Wrong

A Revocable Living Trust is often used to complement a Will. Rather than only having a Will, the Revocable Trust generally avoids the expensive and costly Probate process. In Florida the fee the Florida Legislature has deemed as reasonable is 3% of the total estate.  The Revocable Living Trust also generally protects the assets from most creditors of the estate. A Revocable Living Trust enables your beneficiaries to receive your assets sparing any complications. However, if the Revocable Living Trust is not properly funded, then it would not do any good. Funding the trust is simply the process of transferring assets to it....

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Common Estate Planning Mistakes

An approximately$30 trillion transfer of wealthis currently under way in the U.S. as aging baby boomers pass their assets to successive generations.  This transfer, together with the recent increase to the lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption (to $11.18 million in 2018), has created a favorable situation for U.S. citizens and residents seeking to transfer wealth to their loved ones during lifetime and at death. Despite the encouraging estate planning horizon, we still see many who make common mistakes which can thwart their intentions. Dying without a will For individuals who are unfortunate enough to die intestate (without a will or living...

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Advanced Directives

I had a conversation with a potential client last week regarding the issue of Advanced Directives. Specifically, the potential client was telling me that he can make his intentions known through his Will, so my services would not be needed. As much as I tried to explain that it does not quite work like that, the potential client would not accept the reality of the situation. Then the Miami Hospital staff was confronted with a very unique circumstance when someone had tattooed their intentions on their chest!!  Unfortunately that is NOT the proper method of having Advanced Directives, and thus the...

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Complete and Truthful Disclosure

Something interesting happened this week while discussing an estate plan for a client with adult children. The conversation was focused on how to divide the estate and distribute to the children. The client began the conversation with the statement that all of his adult children and doing very well with well established careers and good earnings. About an hour into the conversation it became apparent that one child could not keep a job for more than 8 months and he does not earn enough to support his family. The point of relating this story is that when you sit with your...

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