Asset protection is one of the most important planning tools for America’s aging population, especially in our current tumultuous economy. One new tool in protecting your assets is the Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trust — AKA, the iPug™.

iPug™ trusts are not based on any state statute, but are instead grounded in century-old and well established common law. This means more stability in courts and more peace of mind for those who opt to use an iPug™ trust. In fact, the iPug™ is beneficial for nearly all Americans. This is because the iPug™ is taxed as a grantor trust, meaning the taxes are passed through to the grantor — the trust itself is not individually taxed. This is beneficial for anyone with assets valued at less than $5 million — i.e., over 99% of Americans.

There are three types of iPug™ trusts:

(1) the income-only version,
(2) the control-only version, and
(3) the third-party version.

In the income-only version, the grantor of the trust gives up the rights to the assets he or she puts in the trust — these assets are only available to the beneficiaries. However, the grantor retains the rights to any income the trust accumulates. One downside to this version of the trust is that creditors also have access to this profit, though they do not have access to the any other assets within the trust.

The control-only version of the trust gives the grantor full control over all assets and all income of the trust. Creditors cannot reach any of the assets therein, and the grantor can distribute the assets to anyone he or she chooses — the only exception being the actual grantor.

Finally, the third-party version is where grantors create the trust for the benefit of a third-party. Usually, this involves adult children creating the trust for their parents for their parents’ lifetime. This version is primarily used when parents have already transferred assets to children but are afraid or concerned that if they need them, they might not have access to the asset. This version is created and the parents are named as the beneficiaries of the trust. Further, assets within the trust are protected from the children’s creditors and are not affected by divorce.

While most people feel they have to be super rich to use Asset Protection trusts an IPUG™ Trust is a Self-Settled Asset Protection Trust for that makes sense for regular people and offers Medicaid compliance that works in all states. It protects client assets from creditors, predators and nursing homes, while permitting the grantor to be trustee and have customized access.

The iPug™ Trust was created by utilizing universal, fundamental trust and common law principles dating back to the statute of uses and are not reliant or dependent upon state or federal specific asset protection laws. “In essence, the iPug™ Trust is an Irrevocable Grantor Trust for income and estate tax purposes.

Why is this important to most Americans? The IPUG™ Trust not only provides advantageous tax benefits but it also provides asset protection. Most Irrevocable trusts do not provide the beneficiaries with a full step-up in basis and allow the grantor to control the funds.

With the increase in the estate tax exemption to $5 million the iPug™ will be usable by more than 99.5% of Americans.

never leave baby alone.jpgEven Clark Howard agrees that new parents should take the time to consult with an attorney to have their Will prepared. A Florida Will allows you to choose who you want to take care of and raise your children, should anything ever happen to both you and your spouse at the same time. It only takes minutes to consult with a Jacksonville Will Attorney, and having your Will prepared is easy and affordable. A Will affords you the peace of mind to know that it will be your decision and not the State of Florida’s decision who would be the appropriate person to become the legal guardian of your children.

A Will allows you to direct how your children will be cared for financially, not only during their childhood, but in their adult life as well.

You also assign a Personal Representative (Executor) in your Will. This person will ensure that your wishes as outlined in your Will are carried out.

New Parents and their children have a life-time in front of them. Knowing that their valid Florida Will has been executed and safely stored, gives parents the peace of mind knowing, that in the event of the unexpected, their children have been provided for, and will be taken care of.

Jacksonville Parents of Newborns once you have made that important decision to have your Will prepared, decide to meet with a Jacksonville Lawyer. As a Jacksonville Will Lawyer I have seen families go through unnecessary grief, frustration, time and expense when a loved one’s Will has not been executed properly. Make sure your Will has been prepared under the guidelines prescribed by the Florida Statutes. An invalid Will is all that much easier for one to contest after you are gone. Parents, when making out that list of items and things needed for after the baby arrives, be sure to add, “have Will prepared”, (and move it to the top of your list).

tree house.jpgDoes the term ” Florida Estate Planning” evoke thoughts of the very rich standing by their Bentleys in front of their massive estates? Maybe the term should simply be Planning, because no matter who you are or how much you own, Everyone needs “Estate” Planning

Everyone has a Florida Estate, no matter how large or small. One’s estate is simply the possessions or property you have acquired, inherited, and worked for during your life. There are generally three types of property that comprise one’s estate, these are:

Real Property – Your home, land, houses or other structures on land;

Tangible Personal Property – Property other than real estate that has a value due to its physical existence, such as motor vehicles, boats, furniture, antiques . . . and;

Intangible Personal Property – Property that you cannot touch, but that has a value due to the legal rights you hold. Examples include stock certificates, promissory notes, copyrights, patents and other “intellectual” property.

Everyone has an estate, but most people have not planned what happens to their estate in the future. Estate planning is the process where you decide and put in writing what you want to happen to your estate in the future, and to whom you want your estate to pass once you have passed. Estate planning is easy, contact a Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorney to schedule a consult and discuss the ways you can “Estate Plan”. Whether you prepare a Will, establish a Trust, or have other legal documents prepared, estate planning puts in writing how you want your real, tangible and intangible property distributed upon your death.

DOMA.jpgA federal judge in Pennsylvania has been asked to determine whether the same-sex wife or parents of an attorney at the law firm of Cozen O’Connor should be the beneficiaries of the attorney’s profit-sharing plan. The parents of the deceased partner argue that an ERISA qualified plan falls under federal law and the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) limiting marriage to only a man and a woman controls whether same-sex couples can receive federal benefits

The wife of the deceased attorney argues that Pennsylvania law does not preclude her from being recognized as the surviving spouse for the purpose of receiving benefits under the plan. The wife states that the law firm profit-sharing plan is not governed by DOMA, and claims the profit-sharing plan is private and is controlled by the language in the plan.

To read more about this interesting case: Same-Sex Marriage Fight at Heart of Cozen O’Connor Benefits Case.

St. Augustine Gay and Lesbian same-sex couples, whether you are married or not, if you have a profit-sharing plan through your employer, it is critical to discuss with them your rights as far as designating the beneficiary you want on the plan. It is also important to consult with a St. Augustine Estate Planning Attorney who can advise you about various other documents that will protect your assets and distribute them to your same-sex partner or beneficiary of your choice.

As an Estate Planning Attorney for those in the LGBT community, I have worked with St. Augustine Financial Planners who have the experience in advising same-sex couples as far as retirement, tax, and other financial matters of concern. Contact a St. Augustine Attorney able to direct you to these LGBT focused financial planners.

repeal DADT index.jpgDon’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), was adopted by Congress in 1996. On December 20, 2011 the the federal law banning openly gay people from serving in the military is repealed.

The President, Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman signed and submitted a one-page certification to Congress that the military is ready to implement the repeal of DADT.

Nearly two million troops have received training in preparation for the repeal of DADT. The Department of Defense stated that sexual orientation is a personal and private matter and that all service members should be treated with dignity and respect. The Defense Undersecretary reported that there will be “zero tolerance for harassment, violence or discrimination of any kind.”

Eligibility benefits remain the same as far as service-members being able to choose their beneficiary for benefits, however the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still prohibits the extension of many military benefits to same-sex couples, including health care and allowances for housing and transportation.

As a Mayport Estate Planning Attorney, I recommend that Mayport gay and lesbian service members consult with an attorney to learn the various ways that legal documents will protect them and their families. Same-sex couples currently lack many federal government protections afforded to heterosexual couples. The best way to provide for your same-sex partner is to draft Florida estate planning and other documents, such as your Florida Will, a trust, health care surrogate, power of attorney, and other similar documents.

Florida law does not provide for your same-sex partner, no matter how long you have been together. As a Florida gay and lesbian member of the armed forces who serves our county, serve yourself as well. Continue to protect the U.S.A and begin to protect yourself and your same-sex partner.

Today there is a big hole in most estate plans. Most estate plans do not deal with the property and licence rights that almost all Americans have accumulated with their online lives.

What online assets should be concerned with?

  • Email Accounts – Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Comcast, AOL …
  • Social Networking Sites – Facebook, Linked In, Google +, Twitter, MySpace …
  • Online Storage Accounts, iCloud, Carbonite, Drop Box, mac.com …
  • Financial Accounts – Bank accounts, Stock Accounts, Home Loans, Student Loans …
  • Photo Storage Accounts – Kodak, Flicker
  • Personal or Company Websites and Blogs
  • Online Businesses Accounts – Amazon, Walmart.com, Go Daddy.com, other online merchants.
  • Auction Sites – Ebay
  • Music and Application Accounts – iTunes, Amazon, Android …
  • Virtual Property – Second life, World of Warcraft, other role-playing identities
  • Payment services – PayPal

Some of the major issues in dealing with Digital Assets we must first determine if we are dealing with a license or a property right. By definition, most licenses expire upon death so the right to asset does not exist when you die. Next you must determine how you will deal with these assets upon your death or prior to your death to preserve access, right of use, limit risks to users for damaging the estate for improper use, and transfer the assets. There are attempts to deal with these issues with software alone, a will, a trust, software and a will, and software with a trust.

One of the problems in dealing with these issues with software alone is that their may be no legal right for the person to access the items and the software may be in conflict with other legal documents like a will or trust.

The next major problem occurs with a legal document only. These can be broken down into two areas. First, the legal document may have no effect on an asset. IE a Will cannot generally transfer a license as it does not exist upon death. Next, the individual is unlikely to keep the legal documents up to date with instructions on how to access the account. In addition, the individuals are unlikely to update passwords as they change. The trend is to require monthly updates to the more secure sites.

What seems to be the best solution: A DAP Trust with integrated software that allows you to update and create beneficiary designations within the trust on the Fly.

If you have a Florida Estate Plan that does not address your digital life or would like to create a DAP Trust for your Digital Assets, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Digital Asset Protection.

Treasure Chest..jpgIt is crucial to make your heirs and family are aware of the
fact that there are documents in place and where these documents can be
found. Having your Florida estate planning documents prepared is the first step, and once you have made the call and scheduled a consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney, you are sure to feel good about it. 

Keep your Florida will, and other documents in a secure place and let someone close to you know where these documents are kept.  Some Florida Estate Planning Lawyer will store the documents for you

There are more than 10 states investigating whether insurance companies are failing to pay out unclaimed life insurance policies to beneficiaries. Insurers are claiming that under policy contracts, they aren’t required to determine whether a policyholder is still alive, but rather they pay a claim when beneficiaries come forward.

If you don’t keep your estate planning and other important documents organized, and if you fail to disclose the location of these papers to a trusted family member or friend, the financial consequences can be considerable.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers currently hold approximately 32 billion in unclaimed bank accounts. Don’t let your hard earned assets be given to the state, inform your heirs and beneficiaries that your estate planning documents exist, and where they can be found.

To see if you have unclaimed treasure in Florida, go to the Florida Treasure Hunt website.

Take the time this summer to consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney who will give you advice as to the estate planning documents that are best suited for you and your family, as well as recommended ideas as to where to store these documents.

File Cabinet.jpgFlorida residents be advised, not only is it important to consult with a Neptune Beach Estate Planning Attorney about having your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney and other legal documents prepared, but you must make your beneficiaries and heirs aware that they exist.

Keeping your important legal, real estate, motor vehicle, insurance and financial papers in an organized fashion and storing them where they can be found is crucial. Keeping your original Will secure and accessible is the first step. A Will allows you to decide which of your family members or friends will inherit your assets. If you have minor children, you designate a guardian for your kids, in case of your demise.

Wills are subject to the Probate process, which is a court supervised proceeding in which a personal representative is appointed, an inventory of your property is prepared, your debts and taxes are paid, and finally your assets are distributed to those beneficiaries named in your Will.

As a Neptune Beach Probate Attorney, I have seen first hand what happens after you die, if your relatives cannot find your original Will. It becomes a more complicated, more timely, and more expensive undertaking than had your heirs known where to look for the original will, which you have “hidden” in the back closet, under a pile of clothes, in a box, with hundreds and hundreds of receipts and sheets of papers . . .

A Revocable Living Trust is another Estate Planning tool that not only benefits you and your beneficiaries, but also avoids the probate process. As you can amend your Living Trust at any time during your lifetime, it becomes imperative that you not only keep the original trust agreement but the amendments to the original trust where your trustee and beneficiaries can find it. Failure to find your trust documents may set your estate up for litigation.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a most powerful document as it allows someone you have named, to act on your behalf in financial, banking and business matters if you ever become incapacitated due to illness or injury. If the person you have designated is unable to locate this document, he or she will be unable to conduct banking transactions or deal with business associates on your behalf.

Another important Estate Planning Document is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. This health care document allows you to name the person you want to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make health care treatment decisions for yourself. Again, remember, it is not only important to have these legal Estate Planning Documents prepared, but to share the existence and location of these documents to your beneficiaries, loved ones, and trusted friends.

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