ALTA Estate Services, LLC
With a living trust and proper and complete estate planning, the grantor (“Trustor”) can set terms for the management and transfer of assets after death. At a second spouse’s death, assets in the living trust can then be distributed to beneficiaries outright or the living trust can distribute income during the beneficiaries’ lifetime. With proper and complete estate planning, the Trustors also have an option of creating a living trust for future use to provide income for children or grandchildren who may not be financially adept. Provisions in the living trust can assure funds for financial and medical needs and establish who will control the flow of such income. Additionally, spendthrift provisions can protect future use assets from beneficiaries’ creditors. Spendthrift terms block creditors from removing assets from the living trust, but these creditors can intercept the distribution of assets before beneficiaries receive them. It is important to work with a professional who understands the proper administration of living trusts and specific strategies that will help you achieve your goals.
Typically, proper and complete estate planning, including a living trust is used to avoid delay, expenses, and administrative burdens of the probate process. If the living trust is “funded,” properly and completely the Trustee can simply follow through with the terms the Trustor(s) establish without having to first seek a court appointment. Appointment through courts is most thought to be an extensive and troublesome process. In contrast, transferring assets into a fully and properly drafted estate plan, including a living trust is relatively an easy process. By working with an estate planning professional, trust officer, financial adviser, and insurance agent, Trustors can change titles on real estate and other assets into the name of the Trust, from originally being held in the Trustor’s name, personally. This process may take time, but you can do it now, or your loved ones will more than likely pay the courts and attorneys to do it for you later. One of the benefits of living trusts is that all assets are brought together under one plan. Don’t delay funding the trust. Trusts can only protect assets that have been transferred into them.
Planning for Long-Term Care
Another important use of living trusts is for long-term care (Medicaid) planning. Under the Federal Medicaid and ALTCS spend down regulations, if someone requires long-term care assistance, but cannot afford that assistance, that person is entitled to governmental help to help pay for such costs. However, if you have any assets, ALTCS will require that person to liquidate (“spend-down”) these estate assets to pay for a certain amount of long-term care costs before ALTCS will provide financial assistance. This process is known as the “spend-down” statute and is explained herein. Fortunately, certain asset protection trusts can permit older individuals to protect assets, often residential homes, from being spent down. One estate and asset protection planning strategy is establishing and transferring assets into a “Medicaid Trust.” Under this Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, you retain income as the “Grantor,” while protecting the principal of the assets (the assets held in this Trust) for your spouse, children or other beneficiaries from the Federal and State Medicaid Spend Down statutes. Do not confuse a “revocable living trust” with this Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. While a revocable trust may have several benefits and uses, a revocable trust does not offer asset protection. It is important to speak with a professional regarding your situation and to further understand what type of trust will fit your needs.
Importance of Communication
The biggest problem we face, when someone passes away and we have to deal with the administrative issues remaining is typically not a legal issue; it is “What did they have?” and “Where is it located?” Preparing heirs and successors for what will occur after you pass is critical to proper and complete estate planning, and often overlooked as part of estate planning. Discussions with loved ones should include descriptions for locations of important information, including your estate planning documents. It is important that you communicate where your trust, living will, powers of attorney, will, insurance policies, investment accounts, bank accounts, and other items are. Additionally, it is a smart decision to notify the family of the contents and locations of safe deposit boxes. Further, contact information for all parties related to who manages your accounts and estate will prove beneficial to your trustee(s) as they administer your estate.
ALTA Estate Services created a Confidential Estate Questionnaire to assist heirs and significant others in the orderly and expedient estate administration and disposition of an estate by providing them with essential information to locate all your assets and not miss anything. The information supplied by you in this Confidential Estate Questionnaire remains confidential and will be utilized only by your Personal Representative or Alternate/Successor Trustee named under your Last Will and Testament or Trust Agreement. This Questionnaire provides comfort and organization in the administration of your estate. ALTA Estate Services provides this document to you at no charge as a courtesy for its importance.
This is not a legal document, but a vital part of your estate plan documents. No other document provides this specific information essential to your estate planning needs in times of medical crisis.
In addition to the most common issues described above, a question that surviving family members have is “what do I do now?” The most important tool in estate planning can be the telephone. ALTA Estate Services created an Emergency Hotline Telephone Program to allow clients, family members, and significant parties to contact ALTA (and/or ALTA contact such related persons) AT ANY TIME AND DAY during times of medical and life crisis. The ALTA Emergency Hotline Program is offered to clients AT NO CHARGE and as a courtesy, because they know how important this service is for clients and family members during times of crisis
ALTA is available to assist you, family members, and loved ones during times of crisis. ALTA provides significant parties with ALTA Emergency Hotline Program business cards, which contain the Emergency Hotline telephone number. Giving access to the Emergency Hotline allows for coordination of vital information, forwarding of legal documents such as the Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA (Healthcare Information Privacy Act Release) to proper authorities, and guidance of actions to be taken by your Alternate/Successor Trustees and Power of Attorneys to assure your estate matters are in order. This is an essential part of proper and complete estate planning. This service is offered to all of our ALTA clients as part of their estate planning program,
Feel free to call the ALTA Estate Services, LLC office at (520) 797-1400 to learn more about proper and complete estate planning, including the Emergency Telephone Hotline Program afforded to you and your family members at no charge during times of crisis and the other benefits of estate planning described above.
For more information on your estate planning strategy and a Free Consultation, please contact us by clicking the button below, or by calling (520) 797-1400. Mark L Fishbein, Tucson AZ