HOW CAN I LEAVE A LEGACY THAT MAKES ME PROUD?
I attended another great funeral today. The man was 90 and lived a long life. He came from modest means and created a successful family office with many prosperous divisions. The most successful part about him was his family and the legacy he is leaving behind. As he lived his life and had several marriages, he always made sure the children were part of the equation which lead to a strong sense of identity and family unity among them. This was special in that every child and grandchild are treated as equals. All of the children work for the family office and are involved in their family business. This created a strong work ethic, where children grew up valuing the dollar and giving back to the community.
ESTATE PLANNING IS MORE THAN A SET OF DOCUMENTS-CHARITABLE TRUSTS
A big part of the estate plan are the documents, but the better part, the more human element is what are they based on? For example, some of my clients are grateful for their wealth and success and form a charitable trust. This gives back to the community and can be filled with information regarding the grantor’s specific wishes and desires. A charitable trust can be created to be funded after the second spouse dies and then go to the cause or that is most important to the couple. A charitable trust also helps teach kids and grandkids about giving back as the generations move on and grow-up they may be in charge of selecting the recipients.
I DO NOT WANT TO CREATE A CHARITABLE TRUST, BUT WANT TO GIVE SOME MONEY TO CERTAIN CHARITIES AT MY DEATH OR AT MY CHILDREN’S DEATH
The best part about trusts is that they are documents that can state your wishes for the future and are created while you are competent and alive. Thus, a trust allows you to create a vision and upon incapacity or death, it goes into effect. For example, one of my client’s trusts states that upon his death, his trust gets divided among his surviving relatives and ten favorite charities. These charities are listed in both name and amount.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN IRREVOCABLE TRUST AND A REVOCABLE TRUST?
In a revocable trust, the grantor is the trustee and he or she runs the trust and the assets inside of the trust while they are competent and alive. At death that trust becomes irrevocable and the successor trustee then takes over. An irrevocable trust may provide creditor protections and may result in tax savings, but are much more restrictive. For example, an irrevocable trust requires a third party as the trustee and limits the grantor’s involvement.
HOW DO I AVOID PROBATE?
By creating a revocable trust and funding it properly, probate may be avoided. Probate is the court process where an attorney must be hired by the loved one’s of the decedent to collect and distribute the assets. Once probate begins, the Judge is in charge of all of the details of the decedent’s estate. Probate includes the court deciding when real estate can be sold, the sales price, and to whom. The court will also decide many other personal family matters if they have not been previously stated in a revocable trust. A trust keeps matters private within the family and avoids probate court involvement if funded properly.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO ESTATE PLANNING?
When proper estate planning has been accomplished, that individual is protected both in the case of incapacity and/or death. This is a huge benefit to the loved ones. We do estate planning to leave our legacy, at times give to charity, and to protect and make it easier for those we leave behind. As an Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Attorney in Miami Beach, Florida, I have over twenty years of experience and handle these matters with the sensitivity they deserve.
I treat an estate plan as more than just a set of documents, knowing this legacy is special and meaningful to the family and loved ones left behind.