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Wyoming Estate Planning

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Land Trust Trustee

A land trust is a legally binding agreement wherein a property owner transfers title to a real estate to an individual or entity referred to as a trustee. The trustee holds title to this real estate and manages it according to rules outlined in the trust agreement, and for the benefit of the trust beneficiary(s).

The grantor is the one who creates the trust. The trust beneficiary is an individual or entity that benefits from the trust property.

The grantor of a land trust is often its beneficiary as well. In other words, with a land trust, the person who created the trust is often the one who will benefit from it. Furthermore, the grantor is typically also the person who funds the trust with real estate that he or she owns.

The beneficiary of a land trust usually directs how the trustee must manage the trust. So, unlike most other trusts, where the contract is between the trustee and the grantor, a land trust is a contract between the trustee and the beneficiary, who is also the grantor and retains the right to occupy, use, develop, rent, buy, or sell the trust real estate.

The Benefits of a Land Trust

When you buy land in your own name, whether developed or undeveloped, you expose yourself to a variety of liabilities. Creditors can use court judgments to seize your property if they know that you have bought it. What's more, accidents happen all the time and if someone is injured on property that bears your name, you can find yourself as the defendant in a very expensive personal injury lawsuit.

Having your name attached to real estate creates liability. Therefore, you want to avoid this type of exposure whenever possible. Using a land trust to hold real estate is ideal because it enables you to avoid these unnecessary headaches by keeping your name off of public records, while still maintaining control over your property.

Land trusts are most often created as revocable trusts that can be amended or terminated at any time. A revocable trust, by itself, doesn't usually provide any asset protection. On the other hand, an irrevocable land trust that is properly structured can provide you with much-desired asset protection.

The primary purpose of a land trust, however, is anonymity, which can allow you to purchase real estate discreetly and expand your real estate holdings with more freedom and much less risk.

Selecting a Trustee For Your Land Trust

In a land trust, the trustee has a fiduciary role, but follows directions given by the beneficiary, who has a earnest interest in what the trust agreement says. Therefore, to avoid liability, the trustee should also be interested in what the trust agreement says at all times. This will enable the trustee to ensure that they are doing only what the trust agreement specifically permits them to do.

This is important because, even though the trustee is usually exempt from the debts and liabilities of the land trust, they can still be held personally liable when something goes wrong. Especially if they have behaved negligently, fraudulently, or without the approval or direction of the trust beneficiary.

Because the trustee has a fiduciary responsibilities regarding the administration of the land trust, it is important that you choose a trustee who exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Honesty;
  • Trustworthiness;
  • Financial Integrity;
  • Knowledge; and
  • Shared Values

The trustee you choose can be a friend or relative that you trust. Furthermore, you should always try to choose a trustee who you get along with. Nevertheless, if that trustee doesn't work out for any reason, they can be replaced at any time.

You can act as your own trustee by having your original trustee resign after the property being transferred into the trust has been retitled. You then can privately take on the role of trustee yourself.

Moreover, you can hire a professional service to set up your Wyoming land trust using a “nominee trustee” to further enhance the anonymity it will provide.

Why Consult With an Experienced Wyoming Estate Planning Attorney?

To ensure that you are set up to enjoy all of the benefits of a land trust before the next time you purchase real estate, consult with an experienced Wyoming estate planning attorney. Setting up a land trust can be complicated. But a seasoned professional can help you explore your options and select the right trustee for your Wyoming land trust.

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Probate is a court-supervised process for transferring assets after you pass away. Probate is usually necessary in Wyoming to transfer assets held by a decedent in his or her sole name at death worth more than $200,000. The process has several drawbacks primarily relating to delays, expenses and privacy. There exist several alternative techniques such as revocable trusts. Learn more about the probate process here.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows someone to act for you. They quit being effective, though, when someone becomes incapacitated. In such cases a Durable Power of Attorney is needed. The Financial planning raises the concern of ensuring effective management of property and financial affairs after you become incapable of managing them. Durable Powers of Attorney provide a flexible and low-cost option for such situations. Lifetime financial planning tackles ensuring effective management of property and financial affairs after you become unable to do so.

Important events affecting a person's finances shouldn't be stopped because the person is unconscious or lacks the mental or physical capability of acting on his or her own. See inside for further information on Durable and Medical Power of Attorney forms.

Revocable Trusts are a popular tool and function as the foundation for most estate plans. ( Follow here for how Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts differ).

The term "living will" became a household word in 2005 due to events surrounding the acrimonious dispute in Florida over Terri Schiavo. Modern medicine makes such extraordinary situations possible and some may wish to place limits on medical care if they feel the burdens outweigh possible benefits. During such situations establishing a person's wishes is frequently impossible when that person loses the capacity to express themselves.

Despite all this, a majority of Americans have failed to provide their family members such guidance. This lack of guidance means family will have an unnecessarily difficult time predicting their loved ones' medical wishes. Completing an Advanced Directive ahead of time helps minimize undue stress during already trying times. Being healthy is no excuse not to begin this important process.

Medicaid planning stems from the understanding end-of-life and long-term health care can be prohibitively expensive for even middle class families. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program which provides means based assistance for those who qualify. Standards differ by state, but generally factor in the income and assets available to pay for medical expenses. There exist strategies for legally making assets inaccessible through the estate planning process. This is generally done via an irrevocable medicaid trust which is a type of Wyoming asset protection trust.

Do you have minor children? If so, then considering planning ahead. Find our guide to choosing and approaching a suitable guardian.

Estate Planning & LLCs

Your LLC is a valuable component of an overall estate plan.  State and federal gift and estate tax exemptions are changing, and to keep your plan current an annual estate plan review is advisable. Learn more on our page about Wyoming LLCs.

Your LLC contemplates gifts of LLC units to other family members or to trusts that have been established for their benefit.  If you did not sign an annual retainer agreement, make sure you contact your attorney and/or CPA to assist you in accomplishing and properly documenting annual gifts.

Periodically an appraisal of the assets in your LLC and valuation of the LLC itself is necessary.  For gifts to be properly documented, appraisals of assets and valuations of LLC interests must be done at the time gifts are made.  Updating must also be done in the event of the death of a member.

Don't Procrastinate On Estate Planing

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Elder law is vitally important and we take this responsibility seriously. We have seen the damage caused by ignoring the many nuances and pitfalls which make elder law unique. We cannot sufficiently stress the importance of choosing a competent adviser to protect your interests. Following this vain, we are proud members of the Wyoming Elder Law Counsel. This distinction sets us apart from other elder law attorneys. Elderly law often requires advance planning due to legal waiting periods before tax strategies can be fully implemented. It is best to deal with the topic sooner, rather than later, so everything is in place when you, a family member, or other loved one passes away. Passing away without a will can lead to unnecessary anguish and taxes during an already difficult time. You should always consult an attorney when creating your estate plan.

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Cloud Peak Law Group, P.C.
1309 Coffeen Ave Sheridan, WY 82801