Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Trusts Can Help You Protect What Matters Most

Contact Fort Lauderdale trust attorney Geoff Levy for a free consultation

Life is full of surprises — from sudden illness to unexpected financial setbacks — but with trusts, your family's future can stay on solid ground. The strategic use of financial trusts is one of the most effective tools in estate planning. Trusts are legal entities established to hold, manage, and distribute assets.

In South Florida, involving trusts in your comprehensive estate plan has many benefits including:

  • Minimized tax impact
  • Asset protection from some creditors
  • Medicaid planning
  • Easy transfer on inheritance

However, if they are misused or improperly established, trusts can cause a lot of damage. To get the most out of your assets and preserve your legacy for your loved ones, make sure you are taking full advantage of trusts in your estate plan. Contact The Levy Firm PLLC for a free consultation.

“From the beginning and throughout, Geoff was compassionate and very knowledgeable in explaining the process. Geoff was always reachable to answer any popup questions and I never felt like a number, like with some larger firms. In the end, The Levy Firm exceeded all my expectations, and I would definitely use them again.”
Stefania S.

What is a trust?

Trusts are legal financial entities with named beneficiaries and clear distribution instructions, adhering to Florida and federal law, with qualifying assets transferred into trusts either in a lump sum or over time. Trusts are versatile and highly customizable, which makes them an excellent tool for estate planning. Trusts can be structured to include:

  • Distribution instructions to individual beneficiaries
  • Spending limits, restrictions, and requirements
  • Provisions for special needs beneficiaries
  • Timing of asset distribution
  • Disqualification, termination of beneficiary rights

Trusts empower individuals to safeguard assets, plan, reduce reliance on public resources due to poor estate planning, and, in some cases, stimulate economic activity. In a comprehensive South Florida estate plan, trusts shield assets from taxes, some creditors, and court costs, ensuring protection for loved ones and future generations.

It is important to note that there are situations in which trust assets are not protected including in the case of unpaid taxes or debts, alimony or child support obligations, and liabilities arising from personal injury lawsuits.

What does a trustee do?

Trusts are administered by a designated trustee, or trustees. Tasks involved in trust administration may include monitoring investments, fighting claims, and distribution, among other things. If a trust is being mishandled or poorly administered, beneficiaries or others with legitimate interests may be able to go to court to seek the trustee’s removal.

What type of trust is the best?

Depending on the terms, condition, and lifespan of a trust, the entity may protect assets from some creditors and minimize the size of a taxable estate and appreciation. Assets in trusts typically bypass probate, the court process for settling an individual’s estate. There are primarily two types of trusts:

  • Revocable Trusts keep you in control of your estate and may help you avoid probate.
  • Irrevocable Trusts are set and cannot be changed, providing protection against creditors and potentially helping you qualify for means-tested programs like Medicaid.

Within those two groups, common types of estate planning trust structures include:

  • Living Trusts. Living trusts, also known as inter vivos trusts, allow individuals to maintain control over their assets during their lifetime, transitioning to designated beneficiaries upon death.
  • Testamentary Trusts. A testamentary trust is an irrevocable trust created in your Last Will and Testament and established on your death.
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts. Assets transferred into GSTs are for grandchildren and future generations. GSTs reduce the number of transfers to beneficiaries, thereby reducing opportunities to tax.
  • Special Needs Trusts. Designed to provide for individuals with disabilities without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid or SSI.
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts. Common but complex, CRTs can be effective for philanthropy and financial planning. The grantor can donate assets to a charitable organization while retaining an income stream during their lifetime.
  • Pet Trusts. Animal trusts are a type of Non-Charitable Purpose Trusts, which are effective but may not provide the same level of asset protection as charitable and traditional trusts. Pet trusts are becoming increasingly common in Florida estate plans, but the concept that a non-human animal can be a beneficiary is contemporary.
  • Florida Community Property Trusts. Established in 2021, these legal arrangements allow married couples to classify their assets as community property, thus providing certain tax benefits and simplifying transfers upon death.

Trust assets

Here are some common types of assets that can be placed into a trust for protection from probate and creditors:

  • Real Estate
  • Bank Accounts
  • Investment Accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Business Interests
  • Valuable Personal Property
  • Life Insurance Policies

While many assets can be protected through placement in a trust, not all assets are eligible. Trust assets typically include property with a clear title or ownership. Assets with specific legal restrictions or ownership limitations may not qualify.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Geoff Levy can help you plan a secure future

You can use an accountant to set up a trust, but they don’t have the same level of legal expertise as a lawyer. With trust attorney Geoff Levy, you can be confident that complex legal requirements are met, and trust documents are tailored to your specific needs. Geoff can help you reduce the risk of errors, prevent legal challenges, and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations by:

  • Providing personalized advice based on your financial situation and goals
  • Drafting legally binding trust documents tailored to your needs
  • Ensuring compliance with state and federal laws governing trusts
  • Advising you on asset protection strategies and tax implications
  • Administering trusts and handling any necessary amendments or updates over time

Trust The Levy Firm PLLC to be your attorney for life

Many South Florida estate planning attorneys may rely on generic templates, but at The Levy Firm PLLC in Fort Lauderdale, we prioritize understanding your unique estate situation and goals before crafting a personalized plan tailored to your needs, ensuring that your objectives are met effectively and comprehensively. Our approach to estate planning and trusts is creative and holistic.

Do you need help establishing or amending a trust in South Florida? Contact Geoff for a confidential free consultation.

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Free Consultation. Contact Us Today.

If protecting your legacy and the financial security of your loved ones is a concern of yours, it’s a concern of ours. Let’s talk. Our law firm provides legal services in English and Spanish. Free consultations for new clients.

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