A revocable trust offers the Grantor a number of incredible benefits and opportunities. In 2011, the estate tax will rise to 55 percent on everything over the first million dollars. A million dollars may sound like a large amount of money but it is really quite small when you consider that it includes life insurance proceeds, the value of your home, stocks, bank accounts, retirement accounts, jewelry, paintings, and anything else that you may have had titled in your name at the time you died. This tax has bankrupted families.
By using a revocable trust as the centerpiece of a foundational estate plan, we are able to double the Federal estate tax coupon amount from 1 million dollars to 2 million dollars, thus saving your beneficiaries $550,000.
Beyond estate tax protection, distributing assets through a revocable trust will avoid probate completely. Probate is the process of gathering up all of the assets that are titled in the sole name of the deceased. These assets may include houses, cars, bank accounts, and even life insurance policies or retirement funds. Many people believe that having a will avoids probate but probate will be required whether or not the decedent has left a will.
The probate of an estate will usually cost between four and seven percent of the value of the entire estate and can tie up your assets between six and eighteen months, without any contests or challenges. In addition, the probate process is made public and airs the dirty laundry of your family for your entire community to see.
A third benefit to using a revocable trust is the ability to control your assets long after you are gone. In Florida, a person is able to retain control of his or her assets for up to 360 years after death. Typically, we draft trusts to control assets until grandchildren reach a certain age or accomplish a certain goal. The limitation of access is not always decided by the age of the beneficiaries. Sometimes you need to protect a child from their own bad financial tendencies. Sometimes you need to make accommodations for a child that receives financial aid from the government by creating a special needs trust. For any and all considerations and concerns, a revocable trust will allow you to distribute your assets in a way that best suits your life and the people you love.
Another benefit to using a revocable trust is the automatic asset protection that you are able to provide to your beneficiaries. When your assets are distributed through a will, the beneficiaries accept the assets outright with no protection. A bad divorce, a car accident, a lawsuit or even existing creditors can take those assets from your beneficiaries. However, when you distribute your assets though a revocable trust, your beneficiaries will receive the assets in trust. They will have as much access to the assets as you wish to give them but those assets will be protected from creditors, litigation, divorce or any other financial threat that might be facing your beneficiaries.
There are an infinite amount of reasons to make a revocable trust the centerpiece of your comprehensive estate plan. If you have over $75,000 worth of assets, a revocable trust is a virtual necessity. For more on Revocable Trusts, please contact your South Florida estate planning and asset protection attorneys. Trusts are very complex documents and should never be attempted without the guidance of a legal professional that specializes in such matters.