A properly drafted and funded trust is designed to keep your estate out of Probate. The trust need not be filed with the probate court. Nonetheless, there are still steps necessary to administer the trust: beneficiaries must be contacted; assets must be gathered, valued and managed; potential creditors must be notified; debts, taxes and final expenses must be paid; and, ultimately, any remaining income and assets must be distributed in compliance with the trust terms.
Special Needs Estate Planning
Special Needs Estate Planning focuses on the need to provide for the special needs of our loved ones with disabilities when we are no longer there to organize and advocate on their behalf. Parents of children with special needs must make careful estate planning choices to coordinate all of the legal, financial, and special care needs of their children – both now and in the future. Comprehensive planning involves maximizing opportunities and minimizing risks.
There are several types of trusts to assist with these special planning challenges:
The Federal Estate Tax is a tax on the transfer of assets from a person who is deceased to a new owner called a “beneficiary.” Exemptions to the tax can lower or eliminate the tax. If a person dies having a total value of assets that is under the exemption amount, zero estate tax is due. Thankfully on January 2, 2013 the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law establishing an exemption of $5 million (based upon a 2011 basis with an adjustment for inflation) per person for U.S. citizens.
The law Congress and President Obama created near the end of 2010 gives clarity to the estate tax issue, but only for two years. The law the President signed on December 17, 2010 went into effect January 1, 2011 and sunsets on December 31, 2012. What this means is the new tax law will only affect the estates of those people who die between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012. How will an estate be taxed for someone who dies after December 31, 2012? At this point, it is anyone’s guess. The answer lies wherever the political and economic winds blow the Congress and the President.