Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Choosing who controls assets in an estate plan

Some people in Florida who are creating estate plans might assume that because they want their spouses and children to benefit from the wealth they have built up that they must leave them in charge of that wealth as well. They may believe this even if there are family conflicts or a lack of family expertise or interest in the assets that means they will not manage the assets properly.

Often, individuals who own a business and other assets fail to think about how they could divide up who controls assets and who benefits from those assets. A person may want to create a business succession plan that has qualified employees step into roles that keep the business running while his or her family members are still able to benefit financially. Professionals may be hired to manage other types of assets.

One man had a business he had inherited from his father and built up to be a valuable enterprise. He sold it for more than $50 million because he did not want to pass it on to his loved ones. His family already had some conflict, and he was afraid that managing the business would be too much for them. Had he considered separating who benefited from the business from who controlled it, he might not have had to relinquish his legacy.

People with complex estates may want to talk to an attorney about how to best create an estate plan that addresses issues such as these. Trusts may be one valuable tool in such a situation. With a trust, assets may be managed by a professional, but the creator of the trust can specify when distributions are made. Trusts can also be a way to help relatives who have special needs or might be irresponsible with large lump sums of money.