Gun Trusts Are Not a Shield

In this video, Cindy discusses some common misconceptions about gun trusts.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Corporation to Own NFA Firearms

Can a Person Under 21 Use a Gun Trust to Buy a Gun?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

COVID-19 scams are everywhere.
Beware of scammers promising early access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Fear has a way of making people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

The COVID-19 panic has resulted in a spate of scams exploiting and targeting the fearful – especially older Americans. First it was white-jacketed people knocking on doors promising delivery of COVID test kits. Now we’ll likely see people promising the undereducated, the isolated, and the unwary early delivery of the COVID vaccine – for a small fee, of course. Or perhaps they’ll just ask for a bit of personal information, such as your date of birth, social security number, etc. You know – to “verify” your identity or eligibility for this special deal.

This article is from a TX news outlet, but the advice applies to everyone:

  • Research carefully,
  • Check with your doctor,
  • Ignore calls for immediate action, and
  • Double-check the link (hover over it to see the address) before opening it.

Additionally, report any suspected scams to family members, neighborhood social media pages, and your state Attorney General.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Everything You Eat, Drink, Do, Don’t Do, and Are May or May Not Cause Dementia

Simple Safety Tips for Seniors

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

What’s a Restatement of a Trust?

Restatement vs. amendment
Changing the terms of a revocable trust agreement is known as “amending” the trust. A restatement is essentially a complete amendment of your trust.

Many people opt to include revocable living trusts as part of their estate plan. They have many benefits, including probate avoidance, ease of administration when you become incapacitated or die, protection for surviving spouses and children, and privacy. But another plus is that they can be changed whenever you want!

Changing the terms of a revocable trust agreement is known as “amending” the trust. The document you’ll execute will generally be titled something like “First Amendment to the Smith Family Trust,” and may be as little as one or two pages long. An amendment is generally appropriate when you’re only making one or two minor changes to your trust – perhaps changing your successor trustees, or adding a beneficiary. The amendment acts as a patch to your trust; the trustees and beneficiaries must read the original trust agreement, and then understand how the changes made in the amendment affect the original trust agreement. Both documents must be kept as long as the trust is in effect.

But if you want to make more extensive changes to your trust – such as changing the way beneficiaries receive their inheritance, removing beneficiaries, adding a corporate trustee, and changing what state law guides the trust, “restating” your trust may be more appropriate. A restatement is essentially a complete amendment of your trust. Basically, you’re keeping the framework – the trust’s name, original date, and original Grantors (trustmakers) – but ripping out the guts and re-writing the trust the way you want it now. The document you’ll execute will generally be titled something like “Restatement of the Smith Family Trust,” and will be many pages long (if you have a good trust). The old trust agreement is discarded and completely replaced with the restatement.

If you’ve accumulated a collection of amendments to your trust, there’s a very good chance your trust won’t do what you think it’ll do when you die. If you think of each amendment as a patch, each patch provides an opportunity for your trust to “leak,” or result in ambiguity (confusion). Ambiguity and confusion leads to arguments and lawyers. Or, perhaps you wouldn’t like your children or grandchildren to see all the changes you made to their inheritances over the years.  At your death, your beneficiaries are entitled to a copy of your trust and all amendments. A restatement can solve those problems because now there’s just one recent document to read and understand – not two or more spanning decades of changes.

What about cost? As usual, that varies. Amendments are usually very customized and require actual typing from scratch, so they’re very time-consuming. Time = $$$ in the legal world. Restatements can be drafted fairly quickly and easily with specialized legal software – especially if the attorney drafted the original trust with that same software. So, like most estate planning work, the cost will likely depend on your situation.

But now, when you’re ready to make some changes to your revocable living trust, you’ll have a better idea of what your estate planning attorney is talking about when he or she discusses amendments and restatements.

Other articles you may find interesting:

What is an ABLE Account?

Naming a Family Member as Successor Trustee: Pros & Cons

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

How Can I Move On after a Loved One Dies?

Grieving has no time limit. But sometimes doing tasks can help you move through the grieving process.

There are no rules about when you should “get back to normal” or “move on” after a loved one dies. Everyone deals with grief differently. But there are many financial and legal tasks that will require your immediate attention, and sometimes dealing with menial tasks can help you move through the grieving process.

Here are some things that will need to be done:

  • Gather important information, such as the deceased’s Social Security number, birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, and military discharge papers.
  • Locate the deceased person’s original “wet-ink” Will (and Trust, if applicable).
  • Obtain at least 10 copies of the death certificate. In Florida, we have both short-form (no cause of death listed) and long-form death certificates. Generally, only life insurance companies require the long-forms in case there’s a suicide, workplace death, or something else that voids the policy. Everyone else will require a short-form due to privacy laws. So, request a long-form for each life insurance policy and lots of short-forms for everything else.
  • Inform the Social Security office about the death (if the funeral home didn’t) and file a Social Security benefits claim form to qualify for the death benefit. Surviving spouses will also want to find out what will happen to their benefits due to the death of their spouse.
  • Notify the deceased person’s supplemental Medicare insurance plan of the death of the insured (Social Security will notify Medicare and Florida Medicaid, but not any supplemental health insurance companies).
  • Find the titles and registrations for all automobiles. If there’s a loan, find the loan documents. If leased, find the lease contract.
  • Print out up-to-date statements for all bank, brokerage and retirement accounts.
  • Find all evidence of debts and their balances – loans, credit cards, mortgages, medical bills, etc.
  • Find the beneficiary forms for all insurance policies, IRAs, 401(k)s, bank accounts, annuities, and investment accounts.
  • Deposit the deceased’s original Will (if there is one) with the Probate Court in the county of the deceased person’s residence, even if no probate is expected. Make a copy first because the clerk will keep the original. In Florida, there’s generally no charge to deposit a Will.
  • File a death claim with the deceased’s life insurance company, if applicable.
  • Request, complete, and submit paperwork for any accounts that named you as a beneficiary.
  • Contact the Employer’s Benefits department about survivorship pension, health insurance, unpaid salary and life insurance benefits, if applicable.
  • Change the name on the utilities, if applicable.
  • If the deceased person was a party to an ongoing lawsuit, or the beneficiary of a probate that hasn’t yet settled, gather all the pertinent paperwork.
  • Prepare a preliminary monthly budget and income summary.
  • Contact an experienced estate planning or probate attorney to determine whether a probate and/or trust administration will be needed. While trust administration is much less onerous than probate, Florida does have some legal requirements for trustees after a person dies.

Be aware that anyone convicted of a felony – anywhere, anytime – cannot serve as a Personal Representative (known as an Executor in other states) in a probate under Florida law.

Hold off for a bit before you retitle any joint accounts into your name only  – random checks made payable to the deceased can appear for a few weeks after death as things settle out and you’ll want to be able to deposit them.

Contact your financial advisor about transferring any inherited IRAs into your name and taking out a required minimum distribution (RMD), if applicable. New beneficiaries should also be named and title for any real estate previously held jointly with the deceased should be updated (your  estate planning attorney can assist you with that).

And don’t forget about taxes. A final income tax return may need to be filed, and if the deceased person was very wealthy, you may also need to file a federal estate tax return within nine months of death.

You don’t need to go it alone. Contact an experienced estate planning/estate administration lawyer for help.

Other articles you may find interesting: 

How Family Dysfunction Can Wreck Your Estate Plan

Why is This Probate Taking So Long?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Death Quest: The Morbid Scavenger Hunt

In this video, Cindy discusses the sad, frustrating process most people have to go through after a loved one dies.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Bad Things Happen to Young People, Too

What Happens When a Beneficiary Form Doesn’t Match the Will or Trust?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Dying Alone and Forgotten

Dying, End-of-life
If you have no family members willing and able to help you when you need it most, you’ll have to rely on strangers.

This is a difficult article to write, but it’s too important not to. Nothing in this article is intended as criticism – it’s merely a fact-based look at what can happen when certain choice are made or circumstances happen.

We estate planning and elder law attorneys preach preparation all the time. “Make sure you have your legal documents in order,” “Let your kids know what you want,” “Simplify and organize your life to make things easier when you’re not around.” But, more and more often, I come across people who want to do these things, but hit a roadblock because they have no one they can rely on to help them if they become incapacitated or die.

In some cases, it’s due to circumstances beyond their control. Perhaps they couldn’t have children, or their spouse and children predeceased them. Perhaps they were a childless only child and have no siblings, nieces or nephews. Or maybe they’ve outlived their siblings and friends. Maybe their only child is a homeless drug addict.

In other cases, it’s due to choices they made during their lives. Many people are choose not to marry, and/or not to have children. Sometimes people become estranged from their family members or even disown their children for a multitude of reasons.

Whatever the cause, the result is the same – you will likely end up alone, with strangers handling your money and your health care decisions, and deciding how and where you’ll live.

When you have no family willing and able (physically and financially) to take on the responsibilities of caring for you if you become ill or suffer from dementia, and no one to administer your estate when you die, the government will find someone and pay them a certain amount of money per hour with your money. If you have no money, the state government will pay that person a very minimal fee. Unfortunately, because we’re in a very senior-dense area, most of these professional guardians have many people they’re paid to look after.

If you have some assets (generally $500,000 or more), you can take some steps now to prevent guardianship over your finances and maintain some professional control over your assets. Search for  “trust companies” in your area and start reaching out to them to find out how they work, what their fees are, etc. Your local bank or investment firm may also have a trust company you can look into.

Proactively finding someone to make your health care decisions is quite a bit harder. It’s such a personal thing. Trust companies, attorneys, banks, etc. won’t take on that responsibility. Search for “care manager” or “geriatric care manager” in your area and reach out to them. Some will allow you to name them or their firm in your legal documents, and others can help you find someone to name.

As you can see, none of these options are pleasant or optimal. If there’s any way to mend fences with children or other family members, please seriously consider doing so. Don’t choose to die alone and forgotten.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Long-Term Care: Plan Before It’s Too Late

Unique Veterans Benefits in Your State – 2020

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

To sign up for one of our free, educational workshops CLICK HERE.

Co-Owning Real Estate: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In this video, Cindy discusses how co-ownership of real estate can affect your estate plan.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Deciding Who to Name as Your Personal Representative

Personal Representative named in Will
Choosing the right person to be your Personal Representative named in your Will is an important decision.

If you have a Will, someone has to administer it – gather all of your assets and debts, work with lawyers and the courts, take care of your property until it can be sold or distributed, and eventually distribute it to the people you named in your Will. That person is your Personal Representative (called an Executor in some states).

Who should you name to take on this enormous burden and responsibility? Well, in Florida, the absolute minimum requirements are that the person be at least 18 years old, a Florida resident as of your date of death or a family member, and not be a convicted felon. Otherwise, they cannot be appointed.

So, who can you name? You can name a family member who lives anywhere in the U.S. (it’s possible, in theory, to have a foreign PR, but it’s extremely costly and awkward and many probate lawyers won’t handle such a probate), a friend who lives in Florida, a business associate who lives in Florida, a Florida attorney or CPA, a professional fiduciary located in Florida, or a corporate trustee (such as a Florida trust company or bank).

What characteristics should this person or entity have? They will have a legal fiduciary duty to handle your estate (your “stuff”) according to your wishes, so they should be trustworthy, honest, dependable, organized, fair, have common sense, and, if possible, live close by so they can easily control and manage your property.

Being appointed as a Personal Representative is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating job. So the person you name should have plenty of free time as well as the health and stamina to put in lots of hours, read and understand legal documents, hire professionals, deal with family questions and conflicts, and potentially travel frequently if they don’t live close to your property.

Your Personal Representative is entitled to (taxable) compensation under Florida law – and they should take that compensation! It’s not fair for one child to bear the entire burden for several months or longer, and then end up with the same amount as her siblings who just sat back and waited for their inheritance.

In your Will, you should always name backups after your first choice – bad things happen to good people all the time. If there is no one named in your Will who is willing and able to serve when you die, someone you wouldn’t want or trust could be named by a judge who wouldn’t know any better.

A good option for people who don’t have any family members or friends they want to name – or would prefer to name someone who is completely independent – is to name a corporate trustee. They know all the rules and the process, and have no emotional skin in the game. They can be completely impartial and fair. But they cost money, so there has to be enough money in your estate to make it worthwhile for them to serve – generally a minimum of $500,000. You should talk with any trust company you’re considering now – while you’re alive. If you have less than $500,000, you’ll likely need to rely on family and friends to serve.

Other articles you may find interesting:

NFA Firearms: Why You Should Name a Florida Executor or Trustee

4 DIY Estate Planning Fails

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

To sign up for one of our free, educational workshops CLICK HERE.

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Corporation to Own NFA Firearms

In this video, Cindy discusses some of the adverse consequences of using a corporation or LLC to own NFA firearms when you’re not using that corporation or LLC for a gun-sale related business.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Want Prison Time? Make an NFA Firearm Without ATF Approval

Gun Trusts Gone Bad

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Can a Person Under 21 Use a Gun Trust to Buy a Gun?

  • Post category:Firearms Law
NFA firearms trusts
No, puppies can’t buy NFA firearms. Neither can humans under age 21 in Florida. 

We’ve living through some pretty tumultuous times, so we’ve been getting a lot of calls recently about gun trusts. One 20-year old man – we’ll call him Johnny – asked an interesting question: was there a legal way he could use a gun trust to buy regular (Title I) or NFA (Title II) firearms in Florida?

The short answer – if you don’t want to read any further – is no.

Here’s the longer explanation >>>

As many of you know, the absolutely atrocious Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, was passed in March 2018 by our cowering legislators in a knee-jerk reaction to the Parkland murders. One of the things it did was raise the legal age to PURCHASE any guns in Florida to 21. A person under age 21 is still allowed to POSSESS guns legally acquired before the law passed, or gifted to them after the law passed. They are just prohibited from buying them.

And, of course, the federal laws against straw purchases are still in effect, so a person under the age of 21 can’t give money to someone 21 or over – not even a parent or sibling – to buy a gun for him or her.

Johnny was wondering whether by naming himself and his father as trustees on a gun trust and opening a bank account in the name of the trust (a perfectly legal thing to do), the funds from the gun trust bank account could be used by his father, acting as trustee, to buy a gun for the gun trust.

We’ll consider buying a “plain vanilla” Title I gun, such as a Glock 17, first.

The federal gun laws make no sense. For some reason, when it comes to Title I guns, a trust isn’t considered a “person,” and only “persons” can buy Title I guns. Since Johnny is the sole Grantor of the gun trust, it’s presumed by law that the money in the trust bank account is his. So Dad would be filling out the ATF Form 4473 at the gun shop in his own name, certifying that he was purchasing the gun for himself, but using Johnny’s money with the intent that the gun would be Johnny’s. That’s a straw purchase. Big felony no-no.

Now, could Dad use his own money and buy the gun as an individual, with the intent to gift it to Johnny? Yes, that’s legal and not considered a straw purchase (as long as Johnny doesn’t give him anything in cash or trade for it). Johnny could then assign that gun to his gun trust and possess it legally. But that’s not what Johnny wants – he wants to be his own man, not rely on Dad for gifts.

What about buying an NFA firearm, such as a suppressor, using gun trust funds? That’s a bit more complicated because now we have to look at Florida law, federal law, and the ATF’s rules regarding the transfers of NFA firearms.

First, we’ll look at how gun trusts and NFA firearms work. Under the federal law, a trust IS considered a “person” when it comes to transferring (buying, giving, or manufacturing) Title II (NFA) firearms. But in 2016, the ATF changed its rules regarding the process when a trust applies for permission to transfer a NFA firearm, making it harder and more complicated. All the Grantors and Trustees on a gun trust are now considered “Responsible Persons” (RPs) under the current NFA transfer rules. Every RP must be qualified to buy and possess firearms under federal and state laws.

When a NFA firearm is being transferred, the trustee completes a Form 4 with information about the trust and every RP completes a Form 23, which is very similar to the Form 4473 that everyone completes every time they buy a plain vanilla, non-NFA gun. Each RP also submits FBI fingerprint cards and a passport photo for a criminal background check.

In Florida, our current law states that “A person younger than 21 years of age may not purchase a firearm.” (Fla. Stat. 790.065 (13)). And Florida’s definition of “firearm” means “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun.” (Fla. Stat. 790.001(6)). So, essentially all NFA firearms are included in that definition.

If Johnny is the Grantor and/or a Trustee on a gun trust, he’s an RP and thus the ATF will deny an application for the trust to purchase the suppressor because Florida doesn’t allow him to buy one.

So, while Johnny is legally entitled to vote, enlist in the military, serve on a jury, buy porn, be sued, get married, apply for a mortgage, and drive a 2-ton motor vehicle at speeds that can turn himself and others into mush, he’ll have to wait until he’s 21 to be able to legally purchase any Title I or Title II firearm in Florida.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Why Have a Gun Trust?

Want Prison Time? Make an NFA Firearm Without ATF Approval

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

To sign up for one of our free, educational workshops CLICK HERE.