Practical Estate Planning Tips Series 10 of 10

Tip #10:  Give your agent power to help you and your trustee power to help your heirs

Many times I will see a Power of Attorney that does not give your agent the ability to do necessary planning if you become incapacitated such as making necessary gifts to an irrevocable trust so you qualify for long term care or being able to get property into your trust that was left out called "funding your trust".  With out these types of specific powers in your Power of Attorney document your agent generally can not do help.  Make the powers broad.

Further, many times I will see a trust that did not give the trustee the ability to hold property in a Special Needs Trust for a disabled beneficiary.  Maybe you don't have a disabled beneficiary now and don't think you need to plan, but what about in the future.  Can you tell the future?

Like I always say, I can get hit by a bus as easily as you or your beneficiaries. So do the advanced planning while you are setting up or amending your trust.  If you don't have a disabled beneficiary then good and the clause will not be used, but if you do in the future they will be thankful that you did so they don't lose their benefits.

Finally, put a Trust Protector provision in your trust.  When you are gone your trust generally becomes irrevocable (e.g. non-changeable).  So what happens if circumstances changed but you did not change your trust.  Well a Trust Protector is a non-paid 3rd party that can update your trust to meet your wishes or needs.  Perhaps you forgot to plan for a disabled beneficiary - a Trust Protector could amend the trust to put in a Special Needs Trust provision to help.  Or what happens if your successor trustees are unable to act?  Your Trust Protector could appoint someone to act and keep it out of court.

The basics here is while you are doing the planning do it well.  Plan for the unknown.


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