VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

How legacy planning can shape an estate plan

Some people in Florida might have encountered the term "legacy planning." Although it may sound daunting, it is just another way of thinking about estate planning. Looking at estate planning as leaving a legacy can help a person conceptualize the process as leaving behind something that continues the person's work in the world.

It might sound like this is only a consideration for rich or famous people, but this is not the case. Anyone can leave a legacy behind. An estate plan is a way of creating a legal structure that accomplishes that. This is possible regardless of a person's income level.

One concern many people may have about thinking of estate planning as a legacy is that it sounds controlling. They may not want to give the impression of trying to manage assets after death. However, this is not necessarily what is meant by legacy planning; it can mean creating conditions for heirs to carry out their dreams as well.

There are a number of ways to approach legacy planning depending on a person's assets, goals and the needs of beneficiaries. Trusts may be helpful in many aspects of legacy planning. For example, a person might want to set up a special needs trust. This type of trust helps support a relative with special needs without affecting that relative's access to government benefits.

Trusts might also be helpful in setting up charitable donations, arranging for beneficiaries to receive assets on reaching certain milestones and protecting an estate from taxes or creditors. However, a trust is not always necessary in creating a legacy plan. In some cases, a will may be sufficient. A person may want to use a will to leave an estate to loved ones to help them in their own endeavors, or a portion of assets might be given to a charitable organization.

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