A. There’s a lot to unpack here and in a column like this, it’s not possible to do justice to what you’ve raised. But I think you have brought up some very significant and highly interesting issues and so I will address your questions but only in a general fashion. And before I even start to do that, my primary advice to you is to meet with your attorney or with an attorney that can provide estate tax advice. A member of our law firm, Attorney John Beck will take over now and will give you and my readers some thoughts about your question.
A. Unfortunately, this is not an infrequent situation, where we love a child, but that child is basically unable to take care of herself/himself. My thought is for you to create a living trust and also a limited liability company. Then make the living trust the owner/member-manager of the LLC. Then you and your spouse transfer the ownership of the triplex into the LLC. With the trust actually owning or being the entity to control the LLC which owns the triplex, you can have the trust contain all the provisions you need to manage the property and see to the daughter’s needs, even after you and your wife have passed on. You would need to name a successor trustee to yourselves and you would need to decide what kind of provisions will be contained in the Trust in order to take care of the property and look after the child. With the property owned by the LLC, there is the added benefit of asset protection for you in the event the is a liability claim resulting from an accident on the triplex’ property. NOTE: This is a very complex problem and you must sit down with your attorney. You should not rely on what I’ve just written other than as a generalized idea. Your attorney may propose other solutions.
A. Well, the most important thing I can suggest is that you sit down with your attorney and explain the situation and seek his or her advice. You didn’t say if you have children or other relatives that you want to have your assets on your passing, but I must assume from the tone of your email that you do have beneficiaries. So, you must protect them. Beyond that, I would urge you to keep all your assets completely separate and make sure there is a written document which expresses which of your personal items such a furniture and jewelry, etc., etc., belong solely to you. Then, you need to make sure your Will (or Trust if you have one) is finished and says exactly what you want to have happen with your separate assets. It would be beneficial for you to have written document which expresses precisely what is to happen to ALL your property including your homestead, when you pass on and if he has survived you. And for heaven’s sake have an attorney draft that kind of document. Good luck.
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.