Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A

Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A specializes in estate planning, probate and trust administration. We are here to help you protect your assets and guarantee that you and your family’s financial future is secure.

We will often work with your accountant, financial advisor, insurance agent and other professionals to allow all of your consultants to participate in the estate planning process.

We have included some helpful definitions of important terms involved in estate planning to help you learn more about the types of documents that Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A. can help you draft and how they can benefit you and your family.

Will
A Will dictates how your assets will be distributed among the people and/or charities that you choose.

Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A recommends that everyone create a Will. It allows you to create a Trust, which protects your assets when passing them along to your loved ones. In this situation, you would appoint a Trustee in the will to administer each Trust.

A Will also lets you appoint a guardian or guardians to care for your minor children and any assets that you leave behind for them. This will help prevent disagreements among family members that can negatively affect the lives of your children.

Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A can draft your Will to reduce federal and state estate taxes. If you do not have a Will, your estate will pass pursuant to state law in a way that may defeat your intent. This could cause significant taxes, costs and interfamily arguments.

Trust
A Trust can be created under a Will or as a separate document. The creator is usually referred to as the “Settlor” or the “Grantor,” and the person the Trust benefits is the Beneficiary.

There are generally two types of Trusts—Inter Vivos trusts and Testamentary trusts. An Inter Vivos Trust becomes effective during the Settlor’s lifetime. A Testamentary Trust becomes effective after the Settlor’s death.

An Inter Vivos trust for a settlor is also called a Revocable Trust or a living Trust (see definition below). These are generally Trusts that a Settlor creates for himself or herself to avoid probate—the process that establishes the validity of a Will and for administration of an estate.

Testamentary trusts are usually created in a person’s Will to protect the assets of family members. A Testamentary Trust can last as long as the Settlor wants it to, can provide directions for payments at specific ages or at the Trustee’s discretion.

Benefits of a Trust include:

• Protection against creditors of the beneficiary.
• Protection against the beneficiary’s spouse in a divorce.
• Tax benefits to the beneficiary and/or his descendants
• Allowing the beneficiary to receive or continue receiving/qualifying for government benefits (e.g. Medicaid)
• Provide professional management and investment of trust funds
• Provide for the special needs of a disabled beneficiary
• A trust fund for charitable giving

Revocable Trust
Also referred to as a “living trust,” this document is created by a Settlor for himself or herself with the purpose of holding all or most of his or her assets.

Generally, this type of trust allows the Settlor’s estate to avoid probate—a legal process that’s necessary to dispense a person’s assets after death. The process is often long, complicated and expensive and can be avoided with a Revocable Trust.

With a Revocable Trust, a Settlor appoints one or more trustees to handle the Trust assets during his or her life and upon his or her death. Typically, the Settlor names himself or herself as the trustee, with his or her spouse as the co-trustee. If the Settlor is older, he or she may appoint one or more children as co-trustees as well.

Living Will
A living will outlines your wishes in case you are in a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state or end-stage condition with no reasonable probability of recovery.

A living will usually states your desire to cease or continue using life-sustaining equipment. This document is important because it states your wishes in writing, eliminating any confusion.

You should give a copy of the Designation to your physicians and any hospital you are admitted to.

Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
In a situation where you are not able to make your own healthcare decisions, designating a surrogate will allow the person of your choice to provide the necessary consent for medications or operations.

You should give a copy of the Designation to your physicians and any hospital you are admitted to.

Estate Planning Lawyer Clay County