A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank), called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.” The rules or instructions under which the trustee operates are set out in the trust instrument. Trusts have one set of beneficiaries during their lives and another set -- often their children -- who begin to benefit only after the first group has died. The first are often called "life beneficiaries" and the second "remaindermen."
As a law firm providing experienced trust & trust litigation attorney & lawyer legal services, assisting Fort Myers, Lee County, and Southwest Florida area residents with trust & trust litigation legal needs, we are committed to protecting the legal rights of each and every client, while always striving to provide the highest standard of legal representation.
If you choose set up or protect any type of trust , make sure your legal rights are protected by seeking the legal advice of an experienced Fort Myers trust & trust litigation attorney (lawyer). Contact Fort Myers Law today by calling 239.939.LAW1 (5291).
Uses of a Trust
There can be several advantages to establishing a trust, depending on your situation. Best-known is the advantage of avoiding probate. In a trust that terminates with the death of the donor, any property in the trust prior to the donor's death passes immediately to the beneficiaries by the terms of the trust without requiring probate. This can save time and money for the beneficiaries. Certain trusts can also result in tax advantages both for the donor and the beneficiary. These are often referred to as "credit shelter" or "life insurance" trusts. Other trusts may be used to protect property from creditors or to help the donor qualify for Medicaid. Unlike wills, trusts are private documents and only those individuals with a direct interest in the trust need know of trust assets and trust distribution. Provided they are well-drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the donor dies or becomes incapacitated.
Types of Trusts
Trusts fall into two basic categories: testamentary and inter vivos.
A testamentary trust is one created by your will, and it does not come into existence until the event of your passing. In contrast, an inter vivos trust starts during your lifetime. You create it now and it exists during your life.
There are two kinds of inter vivos trusts: revocable and irrevocable.
Revocable trusts are often referred to as "living" trusts. With a revocable trust, the donor maintains complete control over the trust and may amend, revoke or terminate the trust at any time. This means that you, the donor, can take back the funds you put in the trust or change the trust's terms. Thus, the donor is able to reap the benefits of the trust arrangement while maintaining the ability to change the trust at any time prior to death.
A revocable trusts is generally used for:
An irrevocable trust cannot be changed or amended by the donor. Any property placed into the trust may only be distributed by the trustee as provided for in the trust document itself. For instance, the donor may set up a trust under which he or she will receive income earned on the trust property, but that bars access to the trust principal. This type of irrevocable trust is a popular tool for Medicaid planning.
As noted above, a testamentary trust is a trust created by a will. Such a trust has no power or effect until the will of the donor is probated. Although a testamentary trust will not avoid the need for probate and will become a public document as it is a part of the will, it can be useful in accomplishing other estate planning goals. For instance, the testamentary trust can be used to reduce estate taxes on the death of a spouse or provide for the care of a disabled child.
Supplemental Needs Trust
The purpose of a supplemental needs trust is to enable the donor to provide for the continuing care of a disabled spouse, child, relative or friend. The beneficiary of a well-drafted supplemental needs trust will have access to the trust assets for purposes other than those provided by public benefits programs. In this way, the beneficiary will not lose eligibility for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and low-income housing. A supplemental needs trust can be created by the donor during life or be part of a will.
Credit Shelter Trust
Credit shelter trusts are a way to take full advantage of the estate tax exemption. The first $2 million in 2007-2008 of an estate are exempt from federal estate taxes, so theoretically a husband and wife would have no estate tax if their estate is less than $4 million. However, if one spouse dies and leaves everything to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse may have an estate that is greater than $2 million. When the surviving spouse dies, any part of the estate over $2 million will be subject to federal estate tax.
To avoid this problem, the spouses can create a credit shelter trust as part of their estate plan. When one spouse passes away, the first $2 million of that spouse's estate is put in to a trust. The surviving spouse can receive income from the trust, but as long as he or she does not control the principal, the money will not be included in the surviving spouse's estate when he or she passes away.
Trust & trust litigation legal issues which we typically represent involve:
If you need to set up or protect any type of trust in Fort Myers, Lee County, or the Southwest Florida area, contact an experienced trust & trust litigation attorney (lawyer) at Fort Myers Law today by calling 239.939.LAW1 (5291).
Protect your legal rights and make sure your voice is heard. We are experienced and have the resources to handle all of your trust & trust litigation and other estate law legal needs.
FORT MYERS TRUSTS AND TRUST LITIGATION LAWYER, SERVING THE TRUSTS, TRUST LITIGATION, ESTATE LAW, AND PROBATE ATTORNEY LEGAL NEEDS OF THOSE IN LEE COUNTY AND THROUGHOUT SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
Contact Fort Myers Law today at 239.939.5291
FORT MYERS LAW
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Fort Myers, FL 33907