Estate Planning Lawyer – With A Large Amount Of Experience
If you’re considering hiring an estate planning attorney, you’re probably worried about taxes. They’re everywhere when it comes to formulating an estate plan, and avoiding or minimizing them takes a lot of expertise.
Good estate planning attorneys know plenty about how to do this, and they can help you negotiate the minefield of taxes. A skilled lawyer can save you a significant amount of money, so let’s take a look at the issues and some of the tools they typically use to help you do this.
Start with the big one-the estate tax. This is the one that takes a 40 percent bite out of your estate, but the good news is that most regular folks don’t have to worry about it. Ongoing legislation has made the estate tax a lot more toothless than it used to be. The current number where the tax starts is $11.2 million, and for married couples that amount swells to $22.4 million.
There are plenty of solid tools that estate planning attorneys used to get around taxes, and many of them are trusts.
Most people are at least aware of the value of a living trust, but when it comes to these financial vehicles they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to avoiding taxes.
First up is the possibility of a life insurance trust. These trusts are used to set aside money for estate taxes due to the fact that life insurance policies are exempt from taxes.
There is a catch to using them, though. The policy in question has to be transferred into the trust a minimum of three years before the death of the person who initiates the policy, although spouses can be used as a workaround to skirt this timeline.
Another useful took used by estate planning attorneys is a qualified personal residence trust. In this kind of trust, the residence of the person starting the trust grants the right to live in the house for some extended period, thus reducing the value of the house for gift tax purposes. The catch with this kind of trust is that its irrevocable, which means the terms can’t be changed, so the true “cost” of this trust is flexibility.
If you’re looking for a trust that’s a powerful tool, look no further than an asset protection trust. The name tells the story of how this trust works-the idea is to shield all assets from creditors, and its also designed to protect the estate from lawsuits and possible judgments.
For situations where property is a significant part of the estate, a land trust may be a useful tool. This trust gives the property owner all rights when it comes to the property, and the owner can take whatever actions are necessary to determine the fate of the property anonymously.
The terms of this kind of trust can differ from state to state, so make sure your estate planning attorney knows how land trusts work in Arizona.
And if you’re looking for an estate planning attorney in the Phoenix area, make sure you do a thorough search for a lawyer with experience in setting up and using these different kinds of trusts.
How Estate Planning Attorneys Deal With Taxes
Law Firm – Reliable, Friendly & Skilled Representation
How to Look for a Probate Lawyer
For many people, the process of hiring a probate lawyer puts them in uncharted waters. The qualifications can seem arcane, and the labyrinthine process can be off-putting as well.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be hard. There’s a simple set of criteria you can use to find the right probate lawyer for you and your situation. They’re not completely foolproof, of course, but they will act as guidelines to help you make a good decision.
Start with referrals. They’re especially important when it comes to finding the right probate lawyer given the personal nature of the process, so you want someone you can trust who will make you feel comfortable with the process.
There are plenty of possibilities for referrals-friends, former clients and word of mouth are just a few. Shoot for a half-dozen referrals and you’ll probably be safe, but don’t sweat it if you end up with less.
You’ll need to be more precise about the background check, though. Fortunately, there are plenty of good sources-disciplinary agencies, online legal sites and online sites with general reviews are a good start. You can also check peer ratings, and a reasonable combination of all of these should reveal any outstanding issues you need to consider.
The experience level of the lawyers you’re considering is important as well. Probate law is somewhat unique in that it requires different levels of experience to get through the process, especially if settling the estate is likely to be complicated.
Does the lawyer have analogous experience handling estate planning and trusts? How about real estate transactions? If these things will be involved in your situation, you need someone with the diverse skill set to handle them.
The specifics of your situation are important, too, especially if your probate process extends across multiple states. In that case you’ll need a lawyer who knows Arizona probate law as it applies to the Arizona area, as well as the law in whatever other states are involved.
Once you’ve used these tactics to narrow your search, you should delve into the personal side of the equation. Set up a face-to-face meeting, and tour the office as well. You should get a sense of some kind of rapport and accessibility, and if you don’t you should shift your search accordingly.
Finally, it’s important to make an inquiry about costs and fees. You won’t be able to get an exact figure, but you should be able to get a firm sense of what will be involved and a ballpark estimate that supports that.
Once you’ve done that, verify the information you’ve been given. Call around to several other probate lawyers to get a range about fees and charges, and check local professional associations as well.
All of this should be more than enough to get you started, and whatever information you get should send you on an appropriate path. It takes patience to find the right probate lawyer for you, but taking the time to do this kind of search will more than pay off when it comes to getting the best possible outcome.
Probate Lawyer – 5/5 Google Rate, Try Us Now
Trial Lawyer – Highly Qualified Team To Handle Tough Cases
How to Avoid Common Mistakes Made When Drafting a Will
There are many different mistakes you can make when creating or revising a will. However, it is the simple oversights that are the most dangerous, because we don’t realize that they are mistakes until it is too late.
Not Having a State Specific Will
One of the most common mistakes people make is failing to have a will. If you die in Arizona and it is your primary residence, your property will be distributed according to Arizona’s intestacy laws. This is why you should have an Arizona will drafted once you move to Arizona. This is essential if you’re moving from a state that doesn’t have community property like Arizona to a town like Phoenix.
Not Having Backup Plans
Writing a will can be hard to do, because most of us don’t want to admit that we won’t live forever. Yet we need to take mortality and disability into account when writing our wills. List alternate guardians for your children. Name alternate executors in your will. Name secondary beneficiaries to your bank accounts and retirement accounts as well. Work with a Phoenix attorney to ensure that all of your documents work together to deliver your desired estate plan.
Not Coordinating Your Legal Documents
This mistake can take many forms. A common one is setting up a trust to avoid probate but not titling property so that it is owned by the estate. This means the existing trust does nothing, and your assets for minor or disabled heirs are poured into a testamentary trust. On the flipside, it is possible to set up the title to minor assets like a car or boat so that it passes to your intended heirs outside of probate. And no trust is required to do so.
Another version is failing to coordinate deeds, titles and wills. One variation adding a family member to the deed of the home instead of letting them inherit the entire property when you die. This can cause a major tax headache, because they’re inheriting the house while having to take the stepped up basis of the initial partial ownership into account.
Not Planning for Taxes
Tax laws are constantly changing, and this may force you to update your will. You may want to give money to your heirs while you’re alive rather than letting them inherit it when you die. For example, you could reduce the size of your estate and ensure that your gift benefits your heirs when you pay for your grandchildren’s braces or put a large sum in their 529 plans. This reduces the risk of them having to pay inheritance taxes on a future inheritance.
Trust law is always evolving, too, and it can be impacted by tax law, as well. You may need to alter the wording of your trust to change how much the beneficiary receives each month to minimize their tax bill or keep them eligible for Medicaid. Factor any income taxes or other taxes they must pay so that they can actually live on the amount they receive from the trust.
Don’t forget to figure out how your heirs will pay any inheritance taxes they may owe. It is common for farm and small business owners to have a sizable life insurance policy so that the payout can be used to pay the inheritance taxes on the property. Then they don’t have to sell the major asset to pay the tax bill.
Wills Attorney – Recommended Services
Lawyer – Let’s Discuss Your Opinions And Plans
The Top Mistakes People Make with Trusts
Trusts are perhaps the greatest estate planning tool available. They allow you to do many things a will cannot. They can supplement a will as well as protect and manage assets while you’re alive. Unfortunately, trusts get a bad rap, and it isn’t just because of the entitled trust fund babies that give it a bad name. Trusts sometimes fail to live up to their potential. This isn’t because trust law has holes in it. Instead, it is because of the common mistakes people make with trusts.
A common mistake is setting up a trust and then failing to fund it. You set up the trust, but you don’t retitle your assets to name the trust as the legal owner. You pass away, but the life insurance policy still names your spouse and children as heirs instead of the trust.
Underfunded trusts are those that contain some assets or receive money from a life insurance policy, but it isn’t enough for the planned purpose. For example, someone who misses life insurance payments toward the end of their life may have killed the major source of funding for their special needs trust. Then the bank accounts and other smaller accounts flow into the trust but not the bulk of the money required to pay for the beneficiary’s needs.
Failing to Put the Trust in the Context of a Full Estate Plan
A surprisingly common mistake is creating a trust without consulting with an estate attorney to create an entire estate plan. For example, you don’t want to create a trust based on certain assumptions and then realize there are certain assets that cannot be owned by a trust. For example, you can’t put your half of the stake in a business or house in a trust, only one that you own entirely.
Not Updating the Trust
Trusts should be reviewed and updated like wills. For example, the trust should be updated when you get married or divorced. The trust should change as your heirs do. You may not need to include a now adult child among the beneficiaries. Or you may want to alter the trust to limit access to funds because your children are not making wise decisions with money. Trusts must be updated when state law changes. For example, an Arizona trust written in 2008 may no longer be valid due to the major revisions in Arizona trust law in 2009 and 2011.
Note that the trust may need to change for personal reasons. For example, you should have a state-specific trust drawn up when you change permanent residences. You should have a trust updated when your intended beneficiaries pass away or your preferences change. And don’t make the mistake of listing people as trustees and then failing to update the will when they die or become incapacitated. Furthermore, you should name contingency beneficiaries. Then you don’t run into trouble when your trust names your child as a beneficiary though they’ve passed away, potentially excluding their children as beneficiaries.
Not Thinking Through Gifts
Your trust may allow your business to continue operations as your family settles your estate. However, you should set up the trust to give them the option to sell it if they don’t want to inherit it. Furthermore, you shouldn’t give the family farm to a relative who doesn’t want to run it. On the flipside, you shouldn’t add terms and conditions to the will that the other person will never live up to. For example, you can limit someone to receive payments for healthcare and education until they sober up or get control of their spending. However, it isn’t fair to require them to meet very strict standards to get a modest sum.
Trusts Attorney – Consistent And Reliable 24/7 Support
Insurance Lawyer – Deliver Results Without Delay
An Overview of Medicaid Long-Term Care Rules
Medicaid is a federal program administered by the states specifically to provide care to the indigent. This is in sharp contrast to Medicare, a program for which almost everyone qualifies for once they’ve started collecting Social Security. Medicaid’s rules are incredibly complex. However, we can provide a rough overview of the Medicaid long-term care rules.
Medicaid and Trusts
Assets inside of an irrevocable trust are not considered your assets. If you put assets inside of an irrevocable trust, the money could be used to pay your medical expenses and long-term care expenses. Furthermore, the money could go to you to live on, while part of it is used to pay your share of the care expenses. Arizona is unique in allowing income-only trusts, a form of Qualified Income Trusts or QITs to t be set up to pay for long-term care. These trusts are irrevocable. Furthermore, they have the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System or AHCCS as the beneficiary. Setting up a trust like this could reduce your total assets to below the threshold required to qualify for Medicaid.
Medicaid rules have a special safe harbor for testamentary trusts created by a dead spouse’s will on behalf of the surviving spouse. The assets in these trusts are considered available to the applicant only if the trustee must pay for the applicant’s support. It is trusts created while you’re alive with money available to you that is almost always disqualifies you from Medicaid. And a revocable trust is always considered your asset.
Consult with a local estate attorney to understand what types of trusts available to preserve assets while providing for the needs of you and your loved ones. For example, testamentary trusts are an invaluable tool for paying for services that aren’t covered by Medicaid. This can include special equipment, additional therapy, medical expenses not paid for by Medicaid like eye exams, clothing and snacks. Medicaid generally just pays for the nursing home care, room and board along with basic medical expenses.
Eligibility for Medicaid requires having less than two thousand dollars in qualified assets as an individual and four thousand dollars as a married couple, if you were both applying for nursing home benefits under Medicaid. In general, a primary residence and basic personal property are not counted toward the asset limits. If you spend 50,000 dollars to make your home and vehicle handicap accessible, this will not count toward the asset threshold.
Assets like 401K and IRAs don’t count against you, but you can get in trouble if you contribute to those plans during the five year look-back period. Furthermore, you cannot hide assets like selling items for less than they’re worth to friends and family. For example, you’ll become ineligible for a long time if you contribute 100,000 dollars to your grandchildren’s 529 plan and then file for Medicaid. The state of Arizona will take that dollar amount, divide it by the estimated cost of care per month, and disqualify you for that many months from the Medicaid program. You can reduce the ineligibility period by taking back those assets, but that opens a whole other can of worms.
Special Needs / Supplemental Needs Trusts
A special needs or supplemental needs trust is set up for the benefit of a disabled person under the age of 65. You can put assets into this type of trust without causing any period of ineligibility. Note that the trust must be set up properly in order not to be considered an asset of the beneficiary. This type of trust is generally set up so that the state is the beneficiary. In Arizona, that is typically the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. This is to ensure that the state is reimbursed for Medicaid funds spent on behalf of the special needs adult.
Medicaid Attorney – We Stand By Your Side & Protect Your Plans
“By the time I get to Phoenix” was a hit for Glen Campbell in the 1960s, and to this day the city inspires the same devotion that is showcased in that classic song. And there’s a very good reason for that.
Phoenix is the most populous city in Arizona, and as such it is seen by many as an oasis in the desert. It has over 1.6 million inhabitants and sits squarely in the aptly named “Valley of the Sun”. The city sees very extreme heat during the summer, and on average there are over 107 days a year when the temperature hits 100 F.
Phoenix is also the cultural capital of Arizona, and has a very active cultural scene and nightlife. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the many bars and restaurants, which have a distinctly cowboy feel, paying homage to their roots. However there are also a number of notable performing arts venues, such as the Phoenix Symphony Hall and the Orpheum theater. A range of great museums have also helped propel Phoenix’s reputation as an intellectual hub. These include the very influential Heard Museum, and the equally compelling Phoenix Fine Art Museum. It is the unique mix of high-brow entertainment and folksy steakhouses that make Phoenix one of the top tourist destinations in the Sun Belt.
Phoenix is also notable for its wealth of natural parks and recreation facilities. In the past, city officials have made a conscious decision to embrace the natural landscape, and incorporate greenery and open spaces into the life of the city. For example, Phoenix is home to the world’s largest municipal park, South Mountain Park. This one park alone boasts over 16,500 acres of space for locals to enjoy, but there are over 180 other parks as well.
Parks, entertainment and a warm climate are just some of the many things Phoenix has to offer.
Driving Directions to Keystone Law Firm