Now, the more complicated question is whether to have a Will or a Trust. Since, under your situation, there are no close family members, and considering that a significant portion of your estate will pass to charitable entities, the simplest document for you might just be a Will, rather than a Trust. I say that because when it comes to simplicity, for you, having a Will, durable power of attorney is easiest and does not require that you make any changes to your existing asset structure. Yes, there will be estate administration, at your passing, but at least in my own opinion, you really don’t have any beneficiaries that you need to protect or that you need to make sure of the dollar amount they are to receive. Having said that, though, if you are concerned about any of the beneficiaries, you could always have your bank account or brokerage account, set up in payable on death mode. That will avoid probate for those assets, while at the same time, allowing you to have a solid estate plan that meets your goals while at the same time keeping it from becoming overly complex.
Please understand that there are many advanced estate planning opportunities when charitable planning is a goal. For example: you might wish to create a unique estate plan that involves trusts where you, through your trustee or successor trustee can exercise control over the method a charity uses to distribute the inheritance received from your estate. The truth is that the facts you’ve presented offers many different planning opportunities if you wish to do them. As Jerry said, there’s a lot to unpack in your fact situation. Thus, I urge you to meet with your attorney or with an attorney who understands your needs.
Gerald R. Colen, and his law partner Rachel M. Wagoner manage the Law Offices of Colen and Wagoner, P.A. The law firm’s attorneys are Jerry Colen, Rachel Wagoner, and John Beck. All are members of the Florida Bar Association. Jerry Colen and Rachel Wagoner are members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. Attorney John Beck has a degree in finance, a master’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in taxation. The law firm practices in the areas of simple and complex Estate Planning, wills, trusts, probate, real estate, title insurance, elder law, taxation, Medicaid Planning and business and professional advice. This column is only intended to present fact situations that may be of interest to the reader. It does not, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. You should not rely on what is written in this column to be legal advice for any situation. You should always consult your own attorney for legal advice. Mr. Colen, Ms. Wagoner, and Mr. Beck have law offices at 1756 N. Belcher Road. Clearwater, FL 33765. Mr. Colen, Ms. Wagoner, and Mr. Beck also meet clients at On Top of the World, in Clearwater, Florida. Visit the law firm’s website at www.colenwagoner.com. Email Jerry Colen at Jerry@colenwagoner.com; Email Rachel Wagoner at Rachel@colenwagner.com. Email John Beck at John@colenwagoner.com.