A. A trust is simply a contract between the person who creates it (the Settlor) and the person who controls the trust’s assets (the Trustee) on behalf of those who are entitled to benefit from the trust (the Beneficiaries).
A trust is a great option for many families who wish to keep things private and avoid a probate once they pass away. A trust can also be crafted for specific purposes, such as asset protection or tax planning.
A. A will is a legal instrument that states who should be in control of your estate during the probate process, and who ultimately inherits your assets. However, a will can be invalidated for not complying with the proper formalities.
While wills are a tried and true estate planning tool, there are times when they create more problems than they solve. For example, in Louisiana if your estate is less than $125,000 then your succession can be completed simply by filing an affidavit with the clerk of court. However, this option is unavailable if you have a will.
A. A power of attorney authorizes someone (“agent”) to act on behalf of another person (“principal”). It can be limited to certain matters, such as financial or healthcare, or it can be general and cover essentially any matter. However, there are certain powers that must be expressly stated in the instrument in order for the agent to perform those actions. The power of attorney does not remove the principal’s ability to make decisions for himself; rather it only authorizes another person to also make decisions for the principal.
A. A revocable living trust is a trust agreement that can be revoked or modified in its entirety. A well-established advantage of a revocable living trust is the avoidance of probate. However, a revocable living trust does not protect your assets from lawsuits, divorce, bankruptcy, or other creditors.
A. If assets are left to a disabled individual, it could disqualify them from the state or federal programs they are receiving. In 1993, Congress enacted new laws that entitled disabled individuals to derive the same estate planning benefits as non-disabled individuals without affecting their eligibility for state or federal benefits. The law created Supplemental Needs Trusts (commonly referred to as “Special Needs Trusts”), which enable you to leave an unlimited amount of money to a loved one who has a special need without affecting their eligibility for the state or federal benefits they receive.