For most people, a “trust” sounds fancy, complicated, and expensive. The truth, however, is that well-designed trusts are flexible, money-saving vehicles for savvy people. (And if you’re reading this web site, you must be savvy…)
Estate planning is an elaborate game played by attorneys to help clients avoid imposing the trouble and expense of the probate process on their loved ones.
The revocable living trust is a popular and flexible tool to eliminate probate from your loved ones’ to-do lists.
Florida’s Medicaid program provides very generous loopholes to seniors requiring long-term care. Unlike other states, it isn’t necessary to go flat broke in order to receive elder care help from the State of Florida.
Several types of trusts figure into Florida’s Medicaid loopholes. However, creating the wrong type of trust may sabotage an otherwise sound Medicaid asset protection plan. It is important, then, to consult with an attorney familiar with Medicaid qualification issues before creating any trust for the elderly.
ASSET PROTECTION TRUSTS
Every family has a prodigal son (or daughter). Money flows quickly through their hands like water – and then down the drain. Trusts are an excellent way to prevent this type of beneficiary from spending their inheritance too quickly.
It’s also well known that some of the nicest people have horrific taste in spouses. A trust can protect a loved one’s inheritance from the clutches of a predatory gold-digger.
Finally, trusts also provide an important legal way to protect money from the reach of creditors, lawsuits, and the tax man.
ELDER CARE TRUSTS
Let’s face it: trusts are scary and intimidating – and that’s why I like them.
The elderly are prime targets for financial exploitation. Using a simple durable power of attorney, financial predators can drain an elder’s bank account with a minimum of fuss. When you walk into a bank with a power of attorney, the bank must give you a quick “yes-or-no” about whether they will allow you to act. And because powers of attorney are written using standard language, most banks feel comfortable interpreting them on the spot.
Trusts, however, are a different creature. Because trusts are both more customized and more comprehensive than powers of attorney, banks and other parties always stop in their tracks when they see a trust – and promptly forward the matter to their legal department. By placing an elder’s assets into a trust, there is a built-in layer of protection that does not exist with a power of attorney: at the very least, financial institutions will think twice before complying with a trustee’s requests to drain the bank accounts.