Merry Christmakwanzakah: Everyone’s Included—Like Your Estate Plan Should Be

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 in 529 Plan, estate planning, Trusts, Wills |

Merry Christmakwanzakah: Everyone’s Included—Like Your Estate Plan Should Be

One of the best parts about the holiday season is the many, many different celebrations that take place. From Christmas to Kwanza to Hanukkah, the holidays are a time for everyone to see their family and engage in celebrations. And, while you’re with your loved ones, it’s time to think about one of the best gifts you can get them—an estate plan that includes everyone.

Sure, estate planning doesn’t sound quite as exciting as a new Xbox or a car, but, in the long run, it ends up being even more valuable (trust us). Estate planning is the process by which your assets, debts, and estate are assigned and distributed after your death.

The Toolkit

Think of your estate plan as a legal toolkit. If you open the kit, you will see many different documents, all of which pertain to a different aspect of your life. However, these tools all have the same goal: avoiding probate.

Probate court is what happens if you do not have an estate plan. The court takes charge of your estate, dividing up assets and debts and winding down the estate in a way that is time-consuming and difficult for your family. A mere last will and testament is not enough. There are many different documents in an estate plan. Listed below are a few of the main ones.

What’s in your legal toolbox?

  • Power of Attorney. Your power of attorney is a trusted individual who you pick to manage your financial and healthcare decisions if you are sick or incapacitated to the point where you cannot make these decisions yourself. We all have that relative who we wouldn’t trust to babysit a rock, let alone make life-changing choices for others. By picking your POA yourself, you ensure that you are choosing someone who is competent and responsible.
  • Living Will. Also known as an advance healthcare directive, a living will specifies what a person wants to have happen in the event of certain medical emergencies. This way, if you can’t tell a doctor or hospital yourself what you want, your directive will have the plan laid out for you.
  • Living Trust. A trust is a three-party relationship. This relationship is of a fiduciary nature. The first party, known as a trustor, confers assets or property to a second party, the trustee, for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary. The living trust allows for this fiduciary relationship to take place upon your death, when your trustee confers to your beneficiary the property with no probate court acting as middleman.
  • 529 Plan. This 529 plan is for people who have kids who are going off to college—if not now, then in the future. The 529 allows you to set aside funds for your kid’s college funds. You may also know a 529 as a “qualified tuition plan.”
  • TOD Sheets. TOD—Transfer on Death—sheets do just that: upon your death, property is transferred in the form of a deed. Morbid though the name is, this legal tool is really helpful and operable in many states.

Estate planning also needs to include everyone you want. When you schedule a consultation, make sure that you have a thorough discussion about those you want to include. Don’t forget that you can—and should—make updates and changes to your plan whenever necessary. The above legal tools are just some of what can help you wrap up your estate quickly and efficiently when the time comes.

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Protecting Your Children Is Protecting Your Legacy

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017 in 529 Plan, Trusts, Wills |

Child safety and protection is a major concern this month, with officials and teachers giving many different tips on keeping your kids safe from all types of dangers. However, one piece of protection advice you may not have heard is estate planning.

Estate planning allows you to designate where you want your property to go after you pass on. There are many different estate planning tools that benefit your children because, as stated in our title, protecting your children is protecting your legacy. In this article, we will discuss these major legal devices that will protect your children’s inheritance and honor your wishes.

Wills, Trusts, and 529 Plans

There are many different ways in which you can leave your property to your children, but wills, trust, and 529 plans are three of the major ones. Here is a brief overview of each:

· Wills. A will is a legal document by which someone designates how they want their property to be distributed after they die. Wills also contain instructions as to who will execute the requests in the will (that person is known as the executor). Note that wills do NOT get you out of probate court, and just having a will is insufficient.

· Trusts. These are more complicated than wills, and they take more time to manage and create. Trusts do ensure that you won’t wind up in probate court, dealing with that expensive and time-consuming nightmare. Trusts are fiduciary agreements. The trustor gives a trustee the right to hold the trustor’s property or assets for a third party’s benefit. This third party is known as the beneficiary. Trusts take effect as soon as you create them, whereas wills take effect after you die.

A living trust is revocable, meaning that the trustor can make changes and modifications as they so choose. This is beneficial, as situations and circumstances tend to change as time passes. An irrevocable trust, by contrast, means that it cannot be altered without the beneficiary’s permission.

· 529 Plans. A 529 plan is an excellent way to invest in your child’s education. These plans allow you to set aside money for your child’s college education. The name 529 comes from § 529 of the IRS Code. 529 plans have been around since the mid-1990s. There are special tax benefits that come along with this type of plan and, usually, your child’s choice of school does not matter in order for them to get the 529.

There are usually two types: prepaid and savings. Prepaid plans allow you to pre-pay all or some of the cost of college education. Savings plans work like a 401k; you invest your

contributions, and the account varies based on the performance of the investment option you chose (mutual funds or something else).

Protecting your children by making sure that you have a plan for your property after you die might not be broadcasted among the many child safety tips, but it is certainly important. By scheduling an estate planning consultation, you can ensure that you are preserving the best

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Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in 529 Plan, Family Law, Trusts |

Image result for 4 leafed clover

It’s almost that time of year again: the 2015 NCAA tournament brackets will soon be set up, and you’ll be counting on the Luck of the Irish when you make your selections. While the function of college sports is high on the charts for education selection, that’s only half of the battle. What’s left? Funding. Fortunately, if you start planning early, you can ensure that the top four selection is your child’s greatest concern when it comes to a college education. Consider the following estate planning resource as a means of both providing for your child’s college planning, while maximizing tax savings. The Florida 529 Savings Plan allows any U.S. citizen to contribute to a savings account for the benefit of any other. The account is then managed by a professional fund manager who will invest according to your investment option of choice. All federal and state income taxes are then deferred until a withdrawal is made from the account. If such withdrawal is made for a “qualified higher education expense,” there are no income tax consequences. There is no set time for using the plan, and it can be rolled over from one beneficiary to another. Not only does the plan allow you to make monthly payments that are invested to create tax exempt income; you can also use it as a strategy to decrease your gross estate, and avoid gift and estate taxes. The 529-Plan allows the owner to maintain complete control over the account, including the right to terminate and withdrawal, while removing all of its contents from the owner’s taxable gross estate. As a result, it is an incredibly useful tool in reducing taxes, while maintaining control and investing in the future of a loved one It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney and/or financial advisor, as there are a variety of wealth management strategies associated with this plan, and it is important to ensure that such strategy compliments each estate plan.

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in 529 Plan, estate planning, Family Law |

Baby Feet Underneath a Blue Blanket

If January has brought you a winter baby, an important dimension has been added to your estate plan. It is critical to plan for the care of your child in case of parental incapacity or death. A guardian should be appointed to look after your child in the event something tragic happens to you or your spouse. If you are a single parent, this need becomes even more pressing.

Failure to select a guardian for your child will result in a lengthy judicial process to determine the guardianship of your little one. Undesirable candidates may become his or her new caregiver. Your little one might even become ward of the state.

There are two kinds of guardians to consider. The first is known as a guardian of the estate. This is someone who manages the money or assets held by a child. On the other hand, a guardian of the person, is someone who becomes a substitute parent for the child. For example, your accountant brother-in-law may be the ideal candidate as guardian of your child’s estate, but his unceasing workaholic nature may not make him the preferred choice for guardian of the person.When selecting a guardian for your child, consider the two types and select the ideal candidate with the skills and attributes that best suit those roles.

Another important matter to consider is protecting your minor child from probate and a hefty estate tax bill by establishing a contingent trust. Don’t risk having your little one left with nothing. Protect assets from any predators or even the whims of an immature child with a spendthrift nature by consulting with your South Florida attorney now.

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2016 in 529 Plan, asset protection, estate planning |


A turkey is essential as a delicious sleep inducing holiday dish, but when it comes to your estate plan, you want to keep the gobble-gobble to a minimum. There are a variety of life events that can turn your estate plan into a turkey. This is why it is incredibly important to have your estate plan reviewed to ensure that it is still effective and true to your goals. While there is no specific time for when you need to have your estate plan reviewed, every three to five years is generally sufficient. However, if there is any particular life event that takes place that will affect your relationships or distributions, you may want to have your plan reviewed for alterations. Such life events include the following:

Children: Sometimes your Will & Last Testament will provide for after-born children, but you should take the document to your estate-planning attorney to ensure that your little bundle of joy is provided for. Additionally, you may want to set up a trust, a 529-college plan, alter beneficiary designations in your will, and nominate a legal guardian.

Marriage & Divorce: if you have recently married or divorced, you will want to take your current estate plan to your attorney to determine whether these life events are addressed in the documents. Furthermore, you may want to change your Personal Representative, Trustee’s, Guardian’s, etc.

Estate Size Increase: You want to make certain that your estate plans are tailored to your estate size. Therefore, when your estate increases, you may want to make some changes in terms of tax and estate planning. Furthermore, if you have an estate plan that is set up to avoid probate, and acquire new property, you will want to assign that property to your living trust. You also may want to consider a variety of estate planning strategies, anywhere from setting up an LLC to protect certain assets from lawsuits, to reducing the size of your estate for tax purposes.

If you have experienced any similar changes or time lapses since creating an estate plan, keep your turkey in its rightful place as an entree, and out of your estate plan — have it reviewed today! It’s a Wild world. Are you still protected?

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Estate Planning For The College Student

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in 529 Plan, estate planning, Family Law, Trusts |

Estate Planning For The College Student

For parents and students, the commencement of a new school year is much like what January 1st is to everyone else: Looking back on the recent life events and choices, while looking forward to the lofty ideals of what lays ahead – a fresh start to the “new” year. In the inception of the new school year, it is time to consider whether you are sporting an old, and less effective, estate plan. Explore your current status, and determine if you are properly prepared for tomorrow. Estate planning isn’t just for the “old & wise.” In fact, the “young and foolish” can start their ascent into wisdom by taking a look into the future, and being prepared for what is looking back! Clearly, the last thing on a young adult’s mind is designating a personal representative, and deciding whom to give their borderline non-existent fortune to. However, at such a young age, the goals of estate planning are not ripe, they are just different. For example, Junior should be less concerned with who will be inheriting his baseball card collection and Xbox, and more concerned with how his digital assets will be treated (preserved, closed, etc.), or who will be his power of attorney and/or Healthcare Surrogate. Standard college student estate planning goals can be achieved with the following documents. Durable Power of Attorney (DPA): this document is going to designate someone to take care of “business” in the event of incapacitation or death. Any financial decision or situation where the college student’s authority is necessary will require a power of attorney to step in their shoes. Furthermore, it can be useful for convenience alone. Lets just say the college student is studying abroad, and wants her parents to take care of her affair while she is gone. When Junior reaches the age of a legal “adult,” he has to authorize his parents to make decisions for him. Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: this is a very important issues for young adults, as many are surprised to hear that their parents may not be able to make health care decisions for them or access their health records. Therefore, the college student will want a living will & designation of healthcare surrogate in place, as well as HIPPA authorization, to ensure that a trusted person or parent(s) can make medical decisions on their behalf. Digital Assets Will: Today’s college student will have a lot of digital assets (social media accounts, banking accounts, school accounts, etc.). Therefore, it is often helpful to have a will in place that directs the proper administration of such accounts and assets. For monetary accounts, you may want to leave specific instructions, including the account information, and how you want the account to be closed or maintained. For sentimental accounts (social networking, photos, blogs, etc.), your main concern will be minimizing the hassle associated with loved one’s accessing your accounts, or having them closed in a manner that will preserve your privacy. Furthermore, the college student may want to consider a basic pour-over will and living trust to avoid the hassle and time associated with probate. A lesson to those who are proceeding down the path of collegiate wisdom – plan ahead!

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