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5 Things to Know About a Revocable Living Trust (RLT)

Although a will may still be the first choice for many who want to pass their estate to their heirs, it is not the only choice. Among baby boomers, the living trust is fast gaining popularity. The reasons baby boomers are choosing a revocable living trust over a simple will are varied, but the primary reason may be to avoid the probate process. In fact, living trusts offer many before and after-death advantages. Five things you should definitely know about a living trust include the following:

  • What is a living trust, and is it revocable? A living trust is a written document created by an estate planning attorney, which can be funded during your lifetime. A living trust is revocable because so long as you are mentally competent, you are allowed to make changes or even dissolve the trust any time you choose. You reserve the right to amend the trust, revoke the trust, alter the trust or change the trustee however you please. While the trust is the legal owner of it’s assets, the IRS treats you as the owner because you have not given up asset control.
  • Why would I choose a living trust over a will? Both a will and a living trust contain your instructions as to who will get what when you die. The difference is that a will needs to go through a Probate Court process before the contents can be distributed to the intended beneficiaries.
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New Law Helps Financial Planning for Special Needs Families

Rick Hodges, father of a special needs daughter, attended a financial planning seminar when his daughter was four. Mere minutes into the seminar, Hodges realized the seminar would be of little use for his particular situation. Most financial plans are predicated on the assumption that the children will grow up, go to college, become self-supporting, and then make their own financial plans for their own children. Hodges knew this would likely not be the path his daughter Audrey’s life would follow. Audrey has Downs Syndrome, and amid uncertainty regarding Audrey’s future, her father is certain she will require long-term financial support.

How the ABLE Act Came About

A group of Northern Virginia parents were instrumental in getting the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act through the House and Senate in December 2014. This bill reflects an increasing public awareness and acceptance of intellectual disabilities. The ABLE Act allows the person with mental disabilities to accrue a savings account with tax advantages worth up to $100,000, while keeping federal benefits. Individuals are allowed to keep Medicaid coverage no matter how large the account grows. Interest on the savings account is tax-free. Money in the savings account may come from family or friend contributions or from what the disabled person’s own earnings.

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What is a Pour Over Will?

A Pour Over Will is the type of Last Will and Testament that accompanies a Revocable Living Trust.  As wills go, this type of will is relatively simple since most of the complicated details are specified in the Revocable Living Trust.  For the most part, a Pour Over Will only has one beneficiary.  That beneficiary is the Revocable Living Trust which was created at the same time.  Of course, if the Trust has been funded correctly, very little will pass through this will.  The Pour Over Will simply serves as a safety net to capture any assets which have not been transferred to the Trust prior to death.  Also, if minor children are involved, the Pour Over Will can also be used to name potential guardians in the event of the deaths of both parents.

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Differences between a Will and a Living Trust

When looking at legal documents regarding distribution of property and your assets after death, you will find a last will and testament and a living trust.  These two documents are not the same, although they both deal with the distribution of your property after your death.  Deciding which one is best for your estate can be tricky, and it’s important that you understand the differences between the two.

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