William A. Johnson, P.A. William A. Johnson, P.A.
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Melbourne, Florida, Trust, Estate Planning And Probate Law Blog

Special needs trust can store past-due benefits

When it comes to post-retirement, end-of-life care, finding the right balance of trust funds and benefit calculations can be a challenging dance. Many folks in Florida can find it a bit confusing when juggling Social Security Disability Insurance payments and Medicaid asset maximums. However, with careful planning, and possibly a little help, there are options to maximize the amount of aid offered to any one individual. 

A recent news article offers a hypothetical case in which a woman, post-retirement, has become incompetent due to Alzheimer's and must be placed in a memory care unit of a nursing home. She has no income, and has used up her savings. Now she is looking at her options for Medicaid and Social Security disability. 

Estate planning tax hack: Using gift taxes to your advantage

Most Florida residents want to earn and save as much money as possible. However, having a large bank account means that you'll face unique tax challenges when planning your estate.

If you're not careful, and your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption of $5.49 million, your heirs could be hit with a large estate tax burden for every dollar that exceeds this exemption. However, one interesting estate planning tax hack could be useful for your situation. It involves the fact that gift taxes are less expensive than estate taxes.

Long-term estate planning can be a part of retirement plan

Unlike a lightning strike, most people can expect to need some extra help at the end of their lives. Since the need is anticipated, a person can make the time period a little less stressful with long-term estate planning. Some consider this an essential part of estate planning for Florida folks reaching retirement age. 

Long-term care costs are climbing, and many people are not aware of just how much is not covered by Medicare insurance. When personal assets and Medicare can't fill the gaps, individuals will need to rely on Medicaid or their other plans. One option that some people are choosing is long-term care insurance to cover the shortfalls. 

A trust can provide stability for a child's future

Once a person has climbed the mountain of accruing wealth, they usually desire a way to share that wealth with family. A person who has retired and is debt free will likely be thinking about estate planning. Not every person will have confidence in a child's preparedness to receive a large sum of cash, nor will every child's circumstances be ideal for an infusion of cash. For individuals in Florida, a trust is a possible route for ensuring the longevity of the inheritance gift. 

Inevitably, every person is unique, and each possible heir to an estate will have a particular approach toward saving, spending, earning and budgeting. The person who will be giving the gift may desire that the inheritance be applied in a certain way. In circumstances where a significant amount of wealth is involved, even if the amount is under the federal estate tax exemption,  some financial advisers recommend the use of a trust. 

Estate planning below the federal estate tax threshhold

At the end of life, the amount of wealth one has amassed has value to the individual, not only in terms of material wealth, but in terms of the hard work and persistence exerted to accrue it. Some individuals deeply care about where the wealth goes and how the money will be handled. It can be tempting to forgo estate planning, but even individuals whose net worth falls below federal minimums for estate tax may require a few legal protections to ensure that their hard-earned cash will be distributed as they see fit. In Florida, many individuals can potentially benefit from estate planning. 

Estates that have over a $5.49 million worth, or $10.98 million for married couples, are subject to the federal estate tax. Any estate with a lower worth is not. However, in some states there are state-level estate taxes that may affect the estate. Also, gifts given outside of an existing will, such as a retirement plan or an insurance policy, may add to the value of an estate. 

Estate planning in Florida: Your second home

Getting older means you need to start thinking about passing on the things you own. If you don't plan to pass them on to your family, then it's up to you to sell them.

As someone who has come to Florida in retirement, it's possible that you have two or more properties. If you die without a will, your family will have to go through probate to determine who should obtain the titles to those properties. If you're not interested in having your family go through that struggle, then it's time to consider creating a trust, drawing up a will or gifting the property to the person you want to pass it on to.

Special needs trust can be a part of a successful financial plan

Some situations require specific plans. Being a special needs individual, or being a parent to one, can potentially require thoughtful financial planning. Since a person's assets can affect their ability to receive government benefits, some individuals choose to utilize a special needs trust to hold some of the assets. Florida residents with these needs can choose to combine the trust with government benefits in order to provide resources for a wider array of needs and wants. 

A person with a disability may qualify for several types of government benefits. There is Social Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Each program has its own requirements and some programs rely on a person having certain income requirements to maintain eligibility. 

Special needs trust can be a part of a successful financial plan

Some situations require specific plans. Being a special needs individual, or being a parent to one, can potentially require thoughtful financial planning. Since a person's assets can affect their ability to receive government benefits, some individuals choose to utilize a special needs trust to hold some of the assets. Florida residents with these needs can choose to combine the trust with government benefits in order to provide resources for a wider array of needs and wants. 

A person with a disability may qualify for several types of government benefits. There is Social Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Each program has its own requirements and some programs rely on a person having certain income requirements to maintain eligibility. 

Florida testators weigh the qualities of an executor

In some families, it may be widely accepted that the firstborn child or perhaps the eldest son will handle the estate after the parents pass away. Without much thought, someone may choose an executor based on birth order, but naming an executor is not always that easy. Florida residents who are beginning or revising their estate plans will certainly benefit from making a careful evaluation of those in line for the honor and burden of being their estate executors.

Probate courts often require executors to be bonded to protect the heirs from the loss of assets should the executor commit any wrongdoing. Those with poor credit scores or bankruptcies in their histories may not be able to obtain that bonding and so may not be the best choice for executor. Furthermore, while wisdom comes with age, choosing an executor who is one's age or older risks that the testator will outlive the executor. Some simply make a general designation of executor, for example to any of their children who are older than 30 at the time the testator dies.

Estate planning can prevent exploitation by criminals

It can be hard to imagine a legal route for a person to take away another person's rights and property, but unfortunately, in some places, loopholes can allow bad actors to slip through. The guardianship system, designed to protect vulnerable, often elderly, adults, has been implicated in the exploitation of people in the past. Luckily, individuals in Florida can take steps to prevent inappropriate guardians from seizing their property through estate planning. 

Some people choose to complete their estate planning documents by having more than just a will. A complete plan can include power of attorney designation and a health care directive. If these documents are in place, and the individuals carefully chosen, it is far less likely that a person will fall under the care of a malicious court-appointed guardian.

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Melbourne, FL 32940

Phone: 321-426-1865
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