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WILLS TRUSTS AND ESTATE PLANNING

We all work hard and expect to enjoy the sweet fruits at some time in our lives. Saving for future is one way we ensure security for the future time. Employees working in the private sector do so by putting money in their 401k plans while those in the public sector do it using a 403b plan. When an employee contributes in these plans the money is in turn invested in the stock market or other such pension or life insurance plans, which leads to the growth of such money.

When money is contributed to such plans they are tax free which simply means the employee pays no taxes on any amount contributed into such plans. However, when money is removed from such plans the employee most likely has retired and has little or no income. As a result he falls in a lower tax bracket. As a result he not only gets a benefit on the front end while he puts the money in but also receives it a benefit in the form of a lower tax rate when he takes it out.

Proper estate planning not only helps you decide how you want to spend your hard earned fortune during your retirement years, but also which of your relatives receive a part of your left over fortune once you pass away. This process starts from naming the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy to creating a will which helps to pass your assets as per your wishes.  This can also become as sophisticated by creating a trust which is an entity within itself and controlled by a third party.

Below is a description of each entity and how they work

WILL

A WILL in simple terms is a legal document by which the Grantor or the owner of the assets decides how he wants to pass on his assets to his loved ones upon his death.

A majority of people in a middle class community generally own a house, possibly a couple of cars, some money in bank accounts and some investments in their retirement accounts. Though these things may not seem very valuable in day to day life they surely amount to a lot of value at the time of person’s death. This is mainly due to the fact that money in banks, retirements and houses appreciate with the passage of time.

A large number of people in today’s society do not understand the importance and significance of estate planning in their life. Mere, retirement accounts and insurance policies do not suffice for a comprehensive and well thought estate plan. Just as all five fingers in our hand are not the same, all of our loved ones are not same either. Some of our loved ones may need our help while we are alive while other might need it the most ones we have passed away.

A person dying without a will is said to have died INTESTATE. In such situations the state statutes enacted by the state legislature would govern the distribution of deceased’s property. A lot of times this would result in a liquidation of all assets and distribution of money as per state statutes. Such a thing is not always beneficial.

For instance, when Father Passes away one of the sons or daughters is going through a tough time and Father’s house could be the most valued shelter for that son or daughter. But since there was no will giving such rights to that son or daughter the house would get liquidated and such person would only receive his share in the estate.

TRUST

A TRUST is a similar estate planning tool generally used by people with larger pool of wealth and resources. This can be a result of winning a lottery, receiving a large law suit or any other type of business settlement or even wealth accumulated through years of hard work.

Generally when a Grantor or owner of wealth and resources has more wealth than what he expects his loved ones would need throughout their life time, he would look at planning for his grand kids. Creating a Trust is a way to ensure that these grand kids have sufficient funds to go through and finish college without any money issues. A Trust is also used when a person owning significant resources is going through illness or just wants to plan his young kids in case he passes away early while his kids are still minors.

A Trust is an individual entity created by law and can stay in existence until its intended purpose is achieved. The person who runs this entity is called a Trustee. A Trustee has fiduciary duties towards the trust to use its assets for the intended purpose of the Trust. What this means is that the Trustee is morally and legally responsible to use the wealth and resources of the Trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the Trust.

The state legislature has enacted laws to punish the Trustee if he is found to act outside the scope of his authority.  If a Trustee passes away the Trust in in its creation would have guidelines to appoint an alternative trustee. In the absence of such guidelines the courts may appoint a Trustee as well. In any case, the laws make sure that the wellbeing of the beneficiaries is protected.

If you or a loved one is looking for a comprehensive ESTATE PLAN and have any questions please contact our conveniently located office in the Tampa Bay Area at 1-727-807-3385

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