One of the first questions many clients ask is whether they need a trust. Its a great question, but it leads to another: What do you want your plan to accomplish? Lets begin with a brief discussion of what trusts are and how they work. Then well explore their benefits, which should give you a better idea of whether a trust is right for you and your family.What is a Revocable Living Trust?There are many different types of trusts and they can accomplish a wide range of goals. However, when most people think about trusts, the one they have in mind is a Revocable Living Trust.A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that allows the grantor (the person who creates the trust) to take personal assets and transfer them to the ownership of the trust. While the trust technically owns the assets, the grantor can continue to use them as he or she normally would.When a Revocable Living Trust is established, the grantor names a trustee to manage the assets in the trust during the grantors lifetime. Most grantors name themselves as trustee, giving them complete control over the trusts assets. Typically, a successor trustee is also named to take over management of the trust and distribute trust assets after the grantor passes away.What are the benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?One of the primary benefits of a Revocable Living Trust is that it enables assets held in the trust to avoid probate after the grantors death. This allows trust assets to be distributed to heirs quickly. The costs associated with probating the estate are also avoided. In addition, a Revocable Living Trust protects the privacy of the grantor (and beneficiaries) because the trusts provisions are confidential. A Last Will and Testament, on the other hand, is a matter of public record. Anyone can access information about the decedents assets, creditors, debts, and more.Another benefit of Revocable Living Trusts is they not only allow the grantor to control trust assets during life but also after he or she passes away. The grantor can stipulate when, how, and under what circumstances the successor trustee is authorized to distribute trust assets to beneficiaries. This is particularly important if the beneficiaries are not yet mature enough to manage an inheritance on their own, or in situations involving blended families. For example, the grantor could stipulate that children from a first marriage receive assets from the trust, not just the children from a more recent marriage.Revocable Living Trusts can also be used to protect the grantor and the grantors family from a stressful and expensive guardianship proceeding if the grantor becomes incapacitated.As we mentioned earlier, there are many different types of trusts. If one of your primary goals is to protect assets from long-term care costs, creditors, lawsuits, and other threats, an Irrevocable Trust or an Asset Protection Trust may be a much better option then a Revocable Living Trust. If you have a loved one with special needs, a Special Needs Trust can allow you to create a fund for goods and services not provided by Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income while protecting eligibility for these vital programs. A Charitable Trust allows the grantor to set aside money for both a charity and beneficiaries, realize certain tax advantages, and generate an income stream.These are but a few examples of various trusts and what they can accomplish. If youre still not sure whether you need a trust, we welcome the opportunity to explain your options in detail and, if appropriate in your particular circumstances, design and implement the trust thats right for you and your family.
Youve taken the time to plan for the financial well-being of your loved ones and yourself. Youve created a customized estate plan to address your goals and concerns. Your plan includes one of the most powerful estate planning tools out there, the Revocable Living Trust, which allows your heirs to avoid probate upon your death and provide for management of your assets without interference from the court should you become disabled or otherwise incapacitated.All is well and goodunless you have not taken the steps necessary to fund your trust. Without proper funding, your trust is worth no more than the paper it is written on.Its hard to believe, but many families take the time to create a comprehensive estate plan, together with a Revocable Living Trust, then fail to properly fund the trust. And even though a Will may provide that all assets pour over into your trust for further disposition, this takes place only after said assets pass through probate, thereby negating one of the primary benefits of creating the trust in the first place.Another important factor to consider is that assets such as life insurance, individual retirement accounts and pension plans pass to designated beneficiaries. If the trust is not named as the beneficiary of such assets, they will not be held (and protected) by the trust. Likewise, assets held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship will go to the surviving joint tenant, not the trust. In addition, assets held in your name alone will not go to the trust until probate has been completed, which can take several months, a year, and sometimes even longer.Given all of this, it is extremely important for you to review all of your assets to determine which titles should be changed to your trust. Assets you will want to review, and possibly title to your trust, include all of the following:Bank accountsCertificates of depositInvestment accountsRetirement accountsStocks and bonds held in certificate formReal propertyTangible personal property such as art, rugs, jewelry, vehicles, etc.Promissory notesClosely-held business interestsWe can counsel you on the best strategies to employ so that your assets are correctly titled and your trust properly funded to achieve your goals and ensure your wishes are carried out.
In America today, an estimated 40 million individuals selflessly dedicate their time to providing unpaid care for a loved one. This statistic, reported by the National Alliance for Caregivers and AARP, underscores the enormous commitment caregivers make on a day-to-day basis. Often, these devoted individuals spend over 44 hours per week caring for a spouse or partner, a commitment that can take a significant toll on their own wellbeing.This total immersion in caregiving responsibilities often leads to a state known as caregiver burnout, a condition defined by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion is often accompanied by a drastic shift in attitude, transforming from a positive, caring demeanor to a negative and indifferent one. Many caregivers become so engrossed in their roles that they feel guilty for spending time addressing their own needs, instead of focusing solely on their elderly or ill loved ones.Recognizing Caregiver Burnout: The Role of an Elder Law AttorneyAs elder law attorneys, we are intimately familiar with the complexities and challenges caregivers face. We believe its crucial for caregivers to recognize the warning signs of burnout, in order to maintain their own health and continue to provide quality care to their loved ones.Ask yourself the following questions:Are you exhausted even after a full nights sleep? Do you seem to catch an unusually large number of colds? Do you feel like your whole life revolves around caregiving but you dont get any satisfaction from it? Are you always tense or feel like youve lost the ability to simply relax? Are you increasingly impatient with the person in your care? Do you often feel helpless, sometimes even hopeless? If youve found yourself answering yes to some or all of these questions, and these feelings have developed since you took on your caregiving role, its possible you are experiencing caregiver burnout.Prioritizing Self-Care: The First Step towards RecoveryRecognizing the signs of burnout is the first step. The next step is taking action to care for yourself. At Safe Harbor Law Firm, our team of experienced elder law attorneys is ready to provide empathetic, professional support during this challenging time.Our approach is both professional and personable, ensuring that we fully understand your unique situation and can provide the most effective guidance. We value your dedication to caregiving and want to ensure you have the necessary resources to care for both your loved one and yourself.Reach Out Today: Let Us Help You Navigate Caregiver BurnoutDont let caregiver burnout control your life. Reach out to us today and lets start the journey towards better self-care together. With our expertise and your dedication, we can navigate through this challenging time and find a path that ensures both you and your loved one receive the care you need.