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Trust administration, an integral part of elder care plan

Florida is widely known as a retirement destination, to the point that it has become fodder for late-night talk shows and stand-up comedians. The combination of warm, relatively mild weather (save the occasional hurricane), lack of state income tax, moderate cost of living and plethora of possible activities, make the state a welcoming place to spend ones "golden years."

To truly enjoy those later years of life, however, it is important to plan for one's future. More and more people are utilizing trusts to ensure they protect their assets, both during their lifetimes, and once they pass on. As Floridians may know, the main advantages of trusts are threefold: first, they can help one control one's wealth, by allowing the grantor set the parameters for which the assets of the trust may be used by the beneficiaries. It can also be set up to allow the grantor to continue to have control of the assets, including the ability to revoke the trust. Secondly, trusts can help protect an estate from an heir's creditors, or a beneficiary who may not have the best track record of fiscal responsibility. Finally, unlike wills, trusts are generally not public record, and can often allow assets to pass to heirs outside of a court, and keep the amount and disposition of wealth private.

One other use of trusts that is an important, but somewhat uncomfortable consideration for many people, is to use a trust to protect assets from one's own loss of capacity due to age, illness or some other factor. It is an unfortunate fact of life that as people grow older, they are sometimes susceptible to outside influences that may not be in their best interests. It is possible, with careful structuring, to make certain that trust assets are used for the purposes originally considered, while still retaining some control.

Of course, it is of the utmost importance that trust documents be drawn up an executed properly. This will ensure that they are both legally enforceable, and use language that is clearly designed to meet the desired objectives. The best way to do this is usually to seek the help of a professional with knowledge of the requisite area of law, so that the trust is structured properly to meet one's requirements. While not always sufficient by themselves, trusts are often an integral part of any good estate planning process.

Source:, "Estate Planning: Creating Trusts to Protect the Assets of Our Elderly," Isaac Yedid & Raymond Zeitoune, Mar. 7, 2014

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