It’s that time of year again – love is in the air!  As Valentine’s Day approaches, we make dinner reservations and shop for the perfect gift to express our love.  This Valentine’s Day, consider giving a heartfelt gift—an estate plan to provide support and guidance for your loved-ones during times of grief and loss – and trust planning is the long-stemmed red rose of estate planning.

You are likely thinking, “that doesn’t sound romantic, or fun!”  Cupid would not be interested.  While an estate plan may not be something we wrap with a pretty bow or present in a heart-shaped box, taking the time to get your affairs in order is a perfect way to show your loved ones just how much you care.

How Trusts Transmit Everlasting Love

Living trusts ease the administration of assets during an event of incapacity and at death.  A basic living trust allows the agents you choose to administer your assets if you become disabled without the uncertainty and cost of court proceedings, and at your death, your estate can be distributed according to your instructions without the probate court process.

Sometimes Tough Love is Needed

Do you and your spouse have stepchildren from prior marriages?  Do you have a child that needs help managing money?  A child with substance abuse issues?  A child or grandchild with a disability or special needs? Testamentary trust planning provides a way to manage inheritances responsibly.

When it comes to the distribution of assets, rather than making outright gifts, your trustee can be directed to establish testamentary trusts for some or all of your beneficiaries. You might provide that a child or a grandchild only receive their inheritance after meeting a certain milestone or reaching a certain age. Parents concerned about their son or daughter’s spending habits, or self-destructive behavior may likewise use a trust to provide financial support without worrying about propping up bad habits. The gifts you leave for loved ones can be protected from creditors and predators.  These gifts can be insulated from future divorce and structured to ensure that disabled beneficiaries receive maximum advantage from your gift without losing government benefits.

This may come off as tough love. When you use testamentary trust planning, you give the gift not only of financial generosity but of continued guidance and support when necessary.

Different Trusts for Different Needs

Living Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. Revocable trusts provide all the advantages of administration we’ve discussed.  Irrevocable living trusts can be structured to provided asset protection, to assist in long-term care planning (including Medicaid qualification), and to maximize tax efficiency.  Special needs trusts, charitable remainder trusts, life insurance trusts, and asset protection trusts are often used irrevocable trusts.

There’s no better way to show your love for your family than to craft a plan to ensure that you are taken care of in the event of disability and that they are taken care of in the event of your death.  And you can leave a legacy that will last for many more Valentine’s Days to come!

Contact the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia

To learn more about how a trust may be the best Valentine’s Day gift you ever give, do not hesitate to reach out to the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia.

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