Basic estate planning is the foundation of a person’s personal planning. The basic estate plan includes incapacity planning documents (living will, durable power of attorney for health care and durable power of attorney for finances), last will and testament and in most cases, a revocable living trust. In situations where there a client requires a revocable trust in their planning, a deed is also prepared to deed the primary residence into the revocable trust. These five documents are considered fundamental. Planning beyond these fundamentals is considered advanced estate planning. In addition to the basic estate plan, individuals with children should arrange for their minor children’s guardians in the event of incapacity and/or death.
It is important to emphasize that advanced planning should only be undertaken by experienced estate planning professionals as the documents involved are very complex and can easily be prepared improperly. Advanced estate planning typically involves estate tax reduction, Medicaid planning and/or special needs trust planning.
When achieving estate tax reduction, vehicles such as the irrevocable life insurance trust, irrevocable trusts, the qualified personal residence trusts and the defective grantor trusts are typically used. In general, these trusts are used to remove assets from a person’s estate when the individual’s estate is near the five million dollar federal exemption limit (in Florida). Married individuals have a ten million dollar combined federal exemption limit. When one spouse uses the other spouse’s exemption limit, they are taking advantage of “portability.” The revocable living trust (which is described above as a basic estate planning tool) is used to carry over, or “port” the decedent spouse’s unused exemption.
Medicaid and special needs planning involves setting up a supplemental (or special) needs trust for the grantor/beneficiary. This trust allows the grantor/beneficiary to take advantage of governmental benefits without losing the ability to support themselves with other certain non-necessities such as haircuts, spa days, etc.
Contact the attorneys of The Presser Law Firm, P.A. to implement a basic and/or advanced estate plan for you or a family member.