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Most Florida trusts are revocable, meaning that the grantor has the right to terminate the trust and reclaim the assets he or she transferred to the trust. However, certain trusts must be irrevocable. That is, in order to receive the intended benefit of establishing the trust, the grantor must surrender the assets to the trust permanently, relinquishing any control over them.
Often, an irrevocable trust is created to provide some value to a beneficiary while also preserving access to government assistance, decreasing or deferring a tax obligation, or otherwise protecting other benefits.
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Special Needs Trust
A qualified special needs trust is established as a means of providing support or enhancing quality of life for a disabled loved one who is or may become dependent on government benefits. While there are limitations on the nature of distributions, a properly-constructed special needs trust will allow a beneficiary to continue to receive Medicaid coverage and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) while also benefiting from the trust. For example, the trust may pay educational or travel expenses on behalf of the disabled person.
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Medicaid Asset Protection Trust
Much like a special needs trust, a Medicaid asset protection trust is created to allow an aging or disabled person to receive Medicaid support for long-term residential care without exhausting his or her assets. This type of trust is becoming increasingly popular as the population ages, because nursing home care is cost-prohibitive for many Floridians. The asset protection trust is just one tool used in Medicaid planning, and may be used in conjunction with a qualified income trust (QIT).
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Qualified Income Trust (Miller Trust)
A Qualified Income Trust (QIT), also known as a Miller Trust, is a specific Medicaid planning tool that assists a Medicaid applicant whose eligibility is denied because he or she earns too much income to qualify for Medicaid long-term care services. Monthly income in excess of the eligibility limit is placed into the irrevocable trust, allowing the Medicaid applicant to pass the gross income test threshold. As of January 2018, that threshold is $2,250 in the state of Florida. Careful administration of the Miller Trust is critical in keeping the Medicaid recipient from becoming income ineligible and thus, losing his or her benefits.
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Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
An irevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can result in significant tax savings when an estate is large enough to be taxed at the federal level, or when a life insurance policy owned by the decedent would push the estate over that line. However, creating an effective ILIT requires careful planning. And, because the trust is irrevocable, it is critical that the grantor carefully consider all of the ramifications before moving forward.