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Is a living trust right for you?

If you haven't worked in an estate planning law firm or studied the nuances of financial planning, you might have a vague idea about the various types of trusts, but you could be unclear about their differences. Here, we'll answer two questions about living trusts:

Will the federal estate tax ever disappear?

If we keep heading in the direction we've been heading for years, the estate tax will eventually disappear and when someone dies, his or her heirs and family members will be able to receive the entirety of the estate without the fear of losing part of it to estate taxes. The "death tax" has existed since 1916. This federal estate tax, after exemptions, charges 40 percent of the value of the estate value that exceeds the exemption.

Special needs trusts protect eligibility for government benefits

Are you worried about leaving money to a child with special needs because that child depends on government benefits? You know that the gift or inheritance may completely eliminate that eligibility or reduce the amount the person can receive. You want to help cover the costs of care, not make it impossible for the person to get benefits he or she has come to depend on already.

Are you ready to fully use your living trust?

Living trusts are a popular estate planning tool, but also one that often is under-used once established. Much like buying a treadmill to get in shape or fresh groceries to prepare home-cooked meals, living trusts often seem very appealing while a person is window-shopping estate planning tools. But they can then fail to utilize all of the benefits that they can offer because the individual doesn't use them properly or often enough.

Is it a mistake to only use a will in your estate planning?

California residents may want to consider using more than a will in their estate planning. Although your will is an essential component of your successful estate plan -- and although a will is enough in numerous circumstances -- most situations can benefit from more than just a will. A complete estate plan requires multiple documents, particularly an advanced medical directive and a power of attorney.

Why should you use a special needs trust?

If you have a child with disabilities who requires specialized care, then certainly the main reason you'd want to use a special needs trust is just to provide for that child after you pass away. By putting the money in a trust, you ensure that it is used properly even when you're no longer around to oversee the spending.

Protect your loved one with a special needs trust

If you have family members who need ongoing care they cannot provide for themselves, you may want to consider setting up a special needs trust to ensure that your loved ones' needs remain covered in the future. Special needs trusts are a particular type of trust that allows people to receive ongoing care without inflating their income or jeopardizing their qualification for certain government assistance benefits.

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