Planning for Everyone You Love and Everything You Have
Do you knowwhat would happen legally- to you, your loved ones, your money and everything else you care about – if something unexpected happened to you?
If you have an estate plan and it’s out of date, your assets could be lost to the State Department of Unclaimed Property, or to an unnecessary Court process.
If you don’t know exactly what would happen for everyone you love and everything you own, then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen, legally and financially, so that you can decide if the current state of your affairs is okay with you.
How Do We Help You With Estate Planning?
We conduct a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we spend time together and you’ll get informed. Before your Family Wealth Planning Session, you will complete a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment, which will help you to get clear about what you own and what you have to think about when it comes to planning for the well-being and care of your loved ones and loved belongings. If you decide the current state of affairs is unacceptable, and if we both decide that it’s a fit to work together, then we can design an estate plan together that will best suit the needs of your family.
The foundation of your estate plan will often include a revocable living trust; you transfer your property into this trust for your benefit during your life. One of the benefits of a revocable living trust is that, when done correctly and maintained over time, your estate plan should help your family to avoid the cost and delay of probate and minimize or eliminate estate taxes.
Can I DIY My Estate Plan?
Unfortunately, most plans don't work because much of what passes for estate planning is little more than word processing. You are asked a few questions and then the drafterdecides which "plan" is right for you, and fits you into a template. This is not estate planning; it is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name and then a hit of the “print” button which spits out form documents.
We Are Professional Estate Planners
Your Personal Family Lawyer®at The Law Office of James Hogan will educate you, take the time to get to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals and your issues and will gladly and patiently answer all your questions to produce an estate plan that is exactly right for you and will keep your loved one’s out of court and out of conflict.
Nobody expects to be sued. Just ask the 20 million people involved in lawsuits last year.
Divorce, inheritance, health issues, creditors, employees, theft, changing markets, malpractice suits, sexual harassment claims, natural disasters and disgruntled business partners are just a few issues that can result in devastating lawsuits for unprepared business owners. The highest level of risk falls on those who think they are immune.
Americans are now more concerned than ever about protecting their assets from creditor claims, taxes, divorce and other disasters. Rightly so.
The more success you have (especially in business, professional practice or real estate activities), the more at risk you are as others see your success grow.
Here’s some of the “risky behavior” you may be engaging in right now:
Will you be signing loan documents, a personal guaranty or a lease? Do you have rental properties or employees? Are you an attorney or physician? Do you work in construction or perform professional services? Are you getting married and have children from a prior marriage or separate property assets you are bringing into the marriage.
Here’s the thing: all of these activities are activities we want to see you do more of! They are, in many ways, the spice of life. But we don’t want that spice to become too hot and impact your life negatively.
That’s where we come in. We can set up your business and life structures to ensure that you can take maximum risk with minimum worry.
We assist our clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances. We will consider insurance, prenuptial agreements, asset segregation, choice of jurisdiction, gifting, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and asset protection trusts. Customized combinations are layered depending on the needs of the client and as appropriate.
There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets while you are alive and after you are gone. To find out which strategies may be right for you, contact us for a Family Wealth Planning Session.
When a loved one dies it can be a confusing time in which you are in immense grief while also needing to make sure you handle all the technical details of locating assets, paying bills and making sure your loved one’s assets get to the right people, without conflict. We are here to help.
Whether your loved one created a trust to hold their assets, or did not, he or she did have assets (called the estate of the deceased) that must be handled with careful attention and it’s critical that you work with a Personal Family Lawyer®who can help you to do the right thing, minimize conflict and ensure the smoothest possible transition of assets.
When someone creates a trust as part of their estate plan, they must name a trustee to ensure the trust’s terms are handled properly. These individuals must carry out all of the trust’s instructions, and they’re legally responsible for doing so within the scope of federal and state law. Such duties are known as trust administration.
Serving in this capacity entails a huge level of responsibility and liability. What’s more, most people named as trustee will have limited, if any, background or experience in the legal and financial duties that come with administering a trust. In this case, the trust administration lawyer at The Law Office of James Hogan can work with the trustee to ensure the trust is administered properly and all legal requirements are satisfied.
If there is not a trust or if not all assets have been properly titled in the name of a trust that was created, we can help your family through the process of estate administration, usually requiring a court process, called probate. If you are a beneficiary of an estate, or an executor or trustee, contact us for support in handling the transition of your loved ones assets as easily as possible.
Trust and Estate Administration
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we work closely with the family, beneficiaries, and other advisors to ensure the decedent's trust assets are collected, debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the named trust beneficiaries, or to the heirs of the estate. Depending on the type of trust involved, assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, or they might be held in trust for the future benefit of the named beneficiaries. If there is no trust, assets will either be distributed outright to heirs named in a will, or by statute, or held by a guardian named by the court until an heir reaches the age of majority.
During this time, we may also need to have appraisals of major assets completed in order to get a clear picture of what the decedent's net worth was for estate tax purposes. Additionally, the title of trustor other estate assets may need to be changed to indicate new ownership by the named beneficiary outright or under a continuing trust.
All of this can be a hugely complicated and time consuming, but our trust and estate administration lawyers will transfer assets as quickly and smoothly as possible, resolve outstanding issues, and ensure that everything occurs within the applicable legal deadlines.
Trust and Estate Administration Services
Below, we’ve outlined some of our most common trust and estate administration services. We can accomplish the following duties without unnecessary delay and with utmost respect for your personal privacy and your family relationships.
● Identification, collection, and determination of values of assets
● Payment of all debts, expenses, and taxes from estate and trust assets, with submission of regular accountings
● Advice as to disposition of jointly held assets, life insurance, and retirement benefits that pass outside a will or trust
● Preparation of state and federal, gift, generation-skipping transfer, and gift tax returns
● Notifying all heirs and beneficiaries of the trust or estate
● Communicating with beneficiaries
Our primary objective is to make this process as easy as possible for you, and minimize the impact of going to court, while also keeping your family out of conflict.
Trust & Estate Administration Lawyers in Palm Beach County, Florida
No matter how complex the trust or estate administration process may be, the trust and estate administrationlawyer at The Law Office of James Hogan will guide you every step of the way. We’ll work closely with personal representatives, executors, beneficiaries, and other fiduciaries to ensure the terms of the trust are carried out properly. At the same time, we’ll make the process as understandable and stress-free as possible for the trustee.
Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are ill-equipped to handle. But the experienced special needs planning attorney with The Law Office of James Hogan are dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you’re no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
We offer a variety of estate planning tools and strategies designed to accommodate the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families in Florida. We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. We’ll also assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and/or trustee to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity. And we’ll help with locating the best residential opportunities—as well as the means to pay for them.
Special Needs Trusts
One “Catch-22-like” situation surrounding estate planning for those with special needs is leaving enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and supports these individuals typically need throughout their lifetimes. Yet, if parents leave a large lump sum of money directly to a child with special needs, they risk disqualifying him or her for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income.
Fortunately, the government allows assets to be held in what’s known as a “special needs trust” to provide supplemental financial resources for the physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled child without affecting their eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits. That said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated.
For instance, funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary and must be disbursed to a third-party who’s responsible for providing the goods and services they need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. What’s more, the requirements for a child with special needs change dramatically over time, as do the laws governing public benefits.
Given this, it’s vital to work with an experienced special needs attorney who can create a comprehensive special needs trust that’s both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation.
Special Needs Planning & Trusts for Florida Children
Contact The Law Office of James Hogan if you need estate planning for your child with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or another developmental or intellectual disability. Our team of experienced Florida special needs planning lawyers can develop a sustainable living plan for your child with special needs that will provide them with the finances they need to live a full life, while preserving their access to government benefits.