Creating an estate plan that fully meets your needs takes an experienced professional who understands your situation, who listens to your goals and who will craft a plan to achieve a solution tailored to your needs and goals. At the McDevitt Law Office, I help clients create personalized trusts that will enable them to preserve their legacies, protect assets, minimize tax liability, and have peace of mind about their future and the future of their families.
Meeting your Estate Planning Goals
Too many people push estate planning to the future because they believe it is not yet necessary or because it involves issues that are difficult to consider. However, it is important that your estate be handled in a way that you choose and that you minimize tax implications. One way to accomplish this is to set up a trust.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee maintains legal control over property or assets on behalf of another person, known as the beneficiary. You can be the trustee of your own trust, in the case of a living trust, meaning you maintain control over the trust’s assets and property. You may also name a trustee to to manage the trust on your behalf or on behalf of beneficiaries of your choice. A trust document can be amended or revoked; you are not locked into any agreement should your circumstances or wishes change.
I can help you establish customized trusts, including:
- Marital trusts or companion trusts (AB trusts/bypass trusts)
- Asset trusts for unmarried or same-sex couples (common law trusts available when a living trust is not an option)
- Life insurance trusts
- Successor trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Other trusts
Advantages of Trusts in Estate Planning
Trusts offer several planning advantages, the most notable being the ability to avoid probate. Probate is the court supervised process under which assets are distributed according to law. Probate can be costly and time consuming. All estates must go through state mandated probate even if a will exists. However, property held in a trust is not subject to probate. The trustee or successor trustee, a person you can name to oversee the trust after you die, can simply distribute the property to beneficiaries. This can be done immediately upon your death or according to a predetermined schedule. Avoiding probate can save you and your family time, money and hassle during an already difficult period in their lives.
Trusts may help with tax planning. Federal and state estate taxes, the federal Generation Skipping Gift Tax and the federal Gift Tax are may be considerations depending on the size of your estate. These taxes do have an exemption level below which you would not be taxed, and the majority of families fall below that level. However, this is something that needs to be discussed with a skilled lawyer. I have the experience and knowledge to explain the different types of trusts, recommend solutions that I believe will achieve your goals and implement an effective estate planning strategy by creating and administering those trusts.
Trusts are also useful if you are planning for the care of a minor or adult with special needs. For example, should you wish to leave money to an adult with special needs, the inheritance may disrupt their access to benefit programs. A trust can provide steady income to a loved one in accordance with the law and at a level that allows them to retain their public benefits. I will address all clients’ needs on a case by case basis, and those who come to me to set up trusts for their estate planning will be fully apprised of all the ramifications of their choices and wishes.
Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
A trust can be created and take effect during the settlor’s life or when the settlor dies. An irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated unless permission is granted by the beneficiary. The grantor or an irrevocable trust essentially gives away all rights to ownership, passing them to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. A revocable trust, on the other hand, can be modified or terminated at any point after it is created if so desired by the settlor. In Virginia, the settlor must specify he or she would like the trust to be revocable.
In general, trusts are a helpful tool since they are a separate legal entity in their own right and may own and transfer property on your behalf. There are various types of trusts offering different benefits depending on your situation and your wishes. We will discuss which type would best suit your circumstances when we meet to discuss your estate plan.
My law firm focuses on your family. Contact me at my Vienna, Virginia, law office to discuss your case. I am always happy to speak with you.