While the reasons for not having a will vary, the end result is the same for everyone: they do not get to choose who receives their property when they die. Instead, their money and property are distributed according to the laws of their state in a process called intestate succession.
Adding a payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designation to an account allows the assets (money and property) in that account to be passed to a named beneficiary when the original account holder dies.
What happens with my assets in a living trust?
Etsy sellers tend to be independent workers who seek success on their own terms. But you should have a contingency plan for your Etsy store that considers the worst-case scenario of incapacitation or death. Ask yourself: what would happen to your store if you were no longer able to run it?
Gaps in an estate plan can lead to conflict among surviving family members. Estate plans tend to focus on big-ticket items like houses, cars, bank accounts, and investments. But deciding who is entitled to personal momentos – especially valuable ones-can be an underestimated source of contention.
Do you know what happens to your child’s inheritance if you do or do not have an estate plan?
Contemplating incapacity can be as anxiety-inducing as thinking about death. There are estate planning tools that can ensure that you do not end up in legal limbo due to a mental or physical disorder that renders you unable to manage your affairs or make decisions.
For many, Summer signals the beginning of summer and enjoying warm-weather activities, including backyard barbecues with friends and family. Although a cookout may be an informal affair, planning is crucial to its success. This is true for estate planning, too. Just as preparations are necessary for a successful cookout, a little planning goes a long way to prevent a poorly designed estate plan (or no estate plan at all!) from leaving you and your loved ones in a pickle.
If you want to remodel your home that is a trust with an equity loan, there are some things you should know.
The Garn–St Germain Act is a federal law that allows lenders to enter into or enforce contracts, including mortgage agreements, that contain due-on-sale clauses even if a state’s constitution or laws, including their judicial decisions, prohibit them.
What is and LLC? What does it do?
How to manage expectations if you should win the lottery.
How to Donate Used Medical Equipment. There are several options and locations that will accept this type of equipment.
When clients select a successor trustee for their trust, they frequently choose one person to serve as a successor trustee at a time. However, many clients are reluctant to place the entire responsibility for trust administration on one person. As a result, it is increasingly common for a trustmaker to nominate two or more family members or friends to serve as successor co-trustees.
But simply creating a will does not mean that your estate plan is complete or final: your will may need to be updated from time to time. It may even need to be revoked and redrafted entirely.
Usually, revoking a will is a purposeful act on the part of the will maker. But many states have laws that automatically revoke a will, or portions of it, in specific situations.
As helpful as it would be when planning, no one has a crystal ball to see into the future. We do not know when we will pass away, and we do not know what position a beneficiary will be in at the time of our death. So even if you do not currently have a loved one who is disabled, it is critical not to overlook the question of what will happen if your loved one becomes disabled at a future time.
Whether you are reviewing your existing trust or creating a new trust, you should understand the important role that a trustee plays not only in handling trust matters but also in providing for and protecting your loved ones.
Beginning your retirement is a great milestone that is worth celebrating. You have put in many years of hard work, and you are now able to focus your energy on the next phase of your life. However, before you begin this next chapter, you need to make sure that you have fully thought through this exciting change in your life. With this new chapter come certain estate planning issues that you need to consider.
Most parents want to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and good friends sometimes want to leave gifts to beloved young children too. Unfortunately, good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results. Don’t make these common, expensive mistakes. Instead, here’s how to both protect and provide for the children you love.
About one-third of Americans who receive an inheritance have negative savings within two years of getting their money, and of those who receive $100,000 or more, nearly one in five spend, donate or simply lose it all. If you are about to receive an inheritance, there are several steps you can take to insure your funds will last longer than a few years.
Getting the news that you have to undergo major surgery is never easy. Preparing for absences from work, planning for childcare and household responsibilities, and reviewing your estate plan will be among the things you may be worrying about. But, what if you only have a few weeks—or even days—to react? Who should you call? How can you concentrate enough to get this work done? Make the best use of your time by considering the following tips.
A deed is a legal document used to transfer real property ownership rights from one person or entity (the grantor) to another (the grantee). Not recording a deed can cause problems for the grantee. They may be unable to obtain a mortgage, insure the property, or sell it. Even more problematic, an unrecorded deed may make it possible for the grantor to sell the property to a buyer and subsequently sell the same property to a different buyer. This could result in the property being sold out from under the original buyer who failed to record the deed.
Sadly, loved ones of divorced people who do not make effective use of the estate planning tools are often left at the mercy of someone who may not be the best choice. Naming a beneficiary for retirement benefits or life insurance, or having a will can be a good start. However, the complexities of relationships, post-divorce, often render these basic tools inadequate. Luckily, there is a way to protect and control your children’s inheritance fully.
If someone dies without a will, probate is the process by which a court declares who that person’s heirs are and appoints an administrator who will distribute the person’s money and property as required by state law. Because the probate process can sometimes be expensive and lengthy, and the details of the deceased person’s estate may become part of public court records, many people create an estate plan designed to avoid probate by using a revocable living trust. However, there are some circumstances in which a probate proceeding may still be necessary.
All children are a blessing. From the day they are born, you begin making plans to ensure that your child or grandchild has a bright future. What will their interests be? What job will they have? Who will they marry? While these are common concerns for most families, for those with a special needs child or grandchild, taking steps to ensure they have a safe, happy, and healthy future is even more important due to the additional hurdles they may face.
Since your family’s needs and circumstances are constantly changing, so too must your estate plan. Your plan must be updated when certain life changes occur. These include, but are not limited to: marriage, the birth or adoption of a new family member, divorce, the death of a loved one, a significant change in assets, and a move to a new state or country.
People often set up bank accounts or real estate so that they own it jointly with a spouse or other family member. The appeal of joint tenancy is that when one owner dies, the other will automatically inherit the property without it having to go through probate. That’s all well and good, but joint ownership can also cause unintended consequences and complications.
Many people think that if they die while they are married, everything they own automatically goes to their spouse or children. They’re actually thinking of state rules that apply if someone dies without leaving a will. In legal jargon, this is referred to as “intestate.” In that case, the specifics will vary depending on each state’s law, so where you live when you die can significantly change the outcome for your family.
Life is full of contingencies. While some outcomes are relatively certain, other events are more difficult to predict. This uncertainty can create estate planning challenges. Because life changes quickly and sometimes unexpectedly, your estate plan needs to be flexible. Incorporating milestones into your estate plan is one way to hedge against the unpredictable future. By creating incentives for particular events, you can continue to exercise your values and provide for your loved ones beyond your lifetime.
In most states, there is a legal presumption that people have capacity to create their estate planning documents and that they can transfer their property to whomever they would like. This means that the person challenging your plan has the burden of proving that you did not have capacity at the time your documents were signed. Nevertheless, there are some proactive steps you can take to provide evidence that you were competent when you created or updated your estate plan.
When planning your next great travel adventure, you may decide that you can do it yourself. You know what you and your travel companions want to see and do, how much you are willing to pay, and the most convenient times to travel. While making travel arrangements may be okay to do yourself, you need to consider calling in a special planning team to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected during your travels and afterward. The following are some individuals you should schedule appointments with before you leave on your next adventure.
Getting ready to embark on your next great adventure? Before you zip up the last suitcase, here are five issues you need to address to protect yourself and your loved ones.
When someone has named you as the executor (also known as a personal representative) of their will or the trustee of their trust passes away, you are obligated to distribute that person’s money and property according to the document’s terms to the designated beneficiaries. (For convenience, the roles of executor and trustee will be referred to throughout this article as the general term fiduciary.) Sometimes, perhaps because of a family conflict or just falling out of touch, the whereabouts of a will or trust beneficiary are unknown. What should you, as the fiduciary, do if you cannot locate a beneficiary of the will or trust?
When people create estate plans, they typically focus on handing down their money and property to their children, grandchildren, and other living heirs. But some people want to leave behind a more enduring legacy. For those interested in multigenerational wealth transfer, a dynasty trust could be the answer.
There are numerous tools of the trade that a qualified attorney can use to keep your money and property out of probate, for example, establishing joint ownership on bank accounts and real estate titles, designating beneficiaries for life insurance policies and certain accounts, and so on. However, setting up a revocable living trust is quite often the best, most comprehensive option for avoiding probate. Let’s discuss why this is true.
One would assume that celebrities with extreme wealth would take steps to protect their estates. But think again: some of the world’s richest and most famous people enter the pearly gates with no estate plan, while others have made estate planning mistakes that tied up their fortunes and heirs in court for years. Let us look at three high-profile celebrity probate disasters and discover what lessons we can learn from them.
In its simplest terms, a trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The trustee owns the assets, enters into contracts on behalf of the trust, manages the trust’s investments as its trustee, and follows the trust’s instructions on making distributions. A trustee can be one person, multiple people, or a company.
Having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply lets you inform the probate court of your wishes—your loved ones still have to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal. Now that you have an idea of why probate might be necessary, here are three key reasons why you may want to avoid probate, if at all possible.
The news that you will be receiving an inheritance is often bittersweet because it means that somebody close to you has passed away. But you might also have mixed emotions about your inheritance for reasons that have to do with the actual accounts or property you are inheriting.
On the one hand, you might not want to reject your inheritance out of respect for the person who put you in their will or trust or named you as the beneficiary of an account or policy. On the other hand, depending on what you have been gifted, an inheritance might pose unintended logistical or financial difficulties that you are unable—or unwilling—to take on.
Five words no one ever wants to hear from their doctor: “Get your affairs in order.” Unfortunately, 58 percent of Americans do not have a will or trust, and it often requires a chronic disease or terminal illness diagnosis, or other life-changing event to prompt the estate planning process. Talk to your attorney about completing the documents below and follow these tips to protect your future and make the circumstances easier for your loved ones.
Creating an estate plan is a personal and often emotional undertaking, making the selection of your estate planning attorney of the utmost importance. Here are some questions you should ask your estate planning attorney to determine if they are the right person for the job.
Estate Planning Pop Quiz – Final Question – True or false? A will accomplishes all of the same goals as a trust, but a will is cheaper?
Final question of our Pop Quiz. September means school is back in session or just around the corner, signaling the return of new school supplies, homework, and pop quizzes. Try your hand at this estate planning pop quiz to see if your knowledge of estate planning makes the grade and if it is time for us to schedule a meeting.
Estate Planning Pop Quiz Question #2: True or false? If I do not create my own estate plan or if my plan fails to provide for my current situation, my state’s law will decide what happens.
Question 2 of our Estate Planning Pop Quiz. September means school is back in session or just around the corner, signaling the return of new school supplies, homework, and pop quizzes. Try your hand at this estate planning pop quiz to see if your knowledge of estate planning makes the grade and if it is time for us to schedule a meeting.
Estate Planning Pop Quiz – Question #1: True or False? You must name the same person to make both your financial and medical decisions on your behalf?
September means school is back in session or just around the corner, signaling the return of new school supplies, homework, and pop quizzes. Try your hand at this estate planning pop quiz to see if your knowledge of estate planning makes the grade and if it is time for us to schedule a meeting.
Estate planning is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Every family has unique dynamics and circumstances that must be considered and examined when preparing an estate plan. As our lives evolve, so too do our needs and goals, which means an estate plan...
I believe the biggest reason women don’t plan is lack of education about the importance of estate planning. It is not easy to learn or speak about the possibility that one may, at some point in time, lose their independence and ability to take care of themselves. It is even more difficult to discuss the certainty of death.
Although lack of education is a major factor for woman failing to plan, other factors have an influence on women as well.
Who are the parties in a trust and how does a trust work?
Regardless of whether someone has a will, their family will have to go through probate. What is the purpose of probate?
A poorly-constructed estate plan can in some cases be worse than having no plan at all. Poorly-constructed estate plans commonly lead to overpayment of taxes (with money that would have been better spent by the surviving family members) and expensive, needless court processes and legal battles (again, money better spent by the surviving family members).
For those not familiar with the term, probate refers to the legal process required to distribute the assets of the deceased. During the probate process, a representative is authorized to pay debts and distribute assets on behalf of the deceased. In probate, there are different routes: informal probate or formal probate.
A properly funded trust allows you to avoid probate, minimize taxes, provides organization, maintains control, and provides for yourself and your heirs. In its most simple terms, a trust is a book of instructions wherein you tell your trusted people what to do, when. While there are many types of trusts, the major distinction between trusts is whether they are revocable or irrevocable. We will take a look at both so you will have the information you need.
A spouse’s death creates a difficult and demanding time for the surviving partner. As much as you might want space and time alone to process your grief, you may have certain responsibilities related to settling your deceased spouse’s affairs, including paying off their debt.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, in 2018 there were approximately 7.5 million second homes, making up 5.5 percent of the total number of homes. These homes are not only real estate that must be planned for, managed, and maintained, they are also the birthplace of happy memories for you and your loved ones. Following are some important estate planning questions to consider to ensure that your place of happy memories is protected.
Although the word “inheritance” usually conjures up images of property or accounts with significant monetary value, you can leave your family an even longer-lasting inheritance by doing these seven things, whether or not your bank account is overflowing.
A resume is a snapshot of your experience, skill set, and education that provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating your resume for five, ten, or even fifteen years. Would it accurately reflect your professional abilities? Would it do what you want it to do? Probably not. Estate plans are similar in that they need to be regularly updated to reflect changes in your life and the law so they can do what you want them to do. Outdated estate plans, like outdated resumes, simply do not work.
Meat Loaf, whose real name was Michael Lee Aday, passed away earlier this year at the age of seventy-four. There is no questioning the legacy of one of rock and roll’s biggest icons. But there are still unanswered legal questions about the fate of Meat Loaf’s estate. Although there is no evidence to suggest that Meat Loaf died intestate (i.e., without a will), we can speculate about his estate plan based on his life, legacy, and available legal instruments.
All children are a blessing. From the day they are born, you begin making plans to ensure that your child or grandchild has a bright future. What will their interests be? What job will they have? Who will they marry? While these are common concerns for most families, for those with a special needs child or grandchild, taking steps to ensure they have a safe, happy, and healthy future is even more important due to the additional hurdles they may face. Attorney Kelly Longtin discusses steps to help provide a prosperous future for your special needs child or grandchild.
There are so many things to think about when a loved one passes away. What to do with the prescription drugs (or other controlled substances) that are in your loved one’s medicine cabinet is not usually at the top of that list. Yet, to avoid running afoul of laws governing their disposal, it is important to understand the proper procedures for disposing of a deceased person’s controlled substances.
If I Give My Home to My Child in My Will, Can They Take My Home While I Am Still Alive? The short answer to this question is no. Naming your child as the recipient of your home in your will does not give them any right to your home while you are still living. However, understanding why that is the correct answer requires a little more explanation.
A medical power of attorney is a crucial part of your estate plan that enables you to name a trusted person to make healthcare decisions for you if needed. It is essential for the person you name to have the information necessary to carry out your wishes for your medical care.
Estate Planning – When a gift may not be a gift. The federal tax code has very specific rules about how much you are allowed to transfer to others each year—and over the course of your lifetime—in the form of a gift. Any gifts above that amount may be subject to gift tax, which is paid by the giver. However, not every gift is subject to gift tax. There are annual exclusion amounts, a lifetime exemption amount, and other exclusions.
With couples of similar ages, planning for the future is naturally a joint effort. However, if you are married to someone who is significantly older or younger than you, the future can look different and mean different things to each of you. To protect yourself, your spouse, and other loved ones, you need to have comprehensive financial and estate plans. For these plans to work as intended, it is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about the following financial and estate planning topics.
What is an Electronic Will? Will the courts determine if a will created and stored on a computer meets the requirements? What States Allow Electronic Wills? Should you use an Electronic Will?
A trustee usually has quite a bit of discretion in their management of a trust’s accounts, money, and property (known as assets). At the same time, as a fiduciary, a trustee also owes the trust’s beneficiaries a duty of loyalty, which prohibits the trustee from self-dealing. In the simplest terms, self-dealing happens when a trustee uses the trust’s assets for their own benefit instead of for the beneficiaries’ benefit.
The assumption that a couple will share finances, tax obligations, and a last name is one that does not necessarily apply in the 21st century. There are more options than ever before to keep your finances, identity, and future plans separate. This sense of independence leads many married people to question: can I make estate planning decisions without involving my spouse? The answer can be more complicated than you might expect.
Unclaimed Property – What is it, Where to find it, and its Impact on Estate Planning and Administration.
Regardless of how careful we are with our finances, it is possible for utility deposits, credit balances, unused gift certificates, banks accounts, and many more types of property or money to accidentally be forgotten or abandoned. In fact, across the country, there are billions of dollars in unclaimed property being held by the state and federal government. Fortunately, it is often possible to locate this property and obtain it. It is equally important for estate administrators or family members to look for unclaimed property when a loved one dies to be sure that all of his or her property is included in the estate and goes to the intended beneficiaries.
Congratulations! You are now considered a legal adult. Aside from purchasing alcohol, there is now very little you cannot legally do. Even though you may not feel any different, from a legal standpoint, a lot has changed. When you were a minor (under the age of 18),...
For grandparents who want to leave a legacy to their grandchildren, the gift of a 529 college savings plan is an option. Not only can opening a 529 plan account help a grandchild with educational expenses, it can also help grandparents with their estate planning goals.
In the past, grandparent 529 plans had the potential to reduce student aid eligibility. However, changes to student aid application rules mean that soon, 529 distributions from grandparents will not count toward a student’s income on the most-used financial aid form. This is welcome news for grandparents who want to help cover the ever-increasing costs of higher education without impacting a student’s need-based financial aid eligibility.
If you have a home or other rental property that is generating income, you should understand the following asset protection and estate planning considerations.
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Nothing can truly prepare a person for such a loss. However, dealing with the financial stress of frozen bank accounts can exacerbate the stress. Without proper planning, your significant other could struggle to gain access to your accounts.
Wills and trusts are the two basic legal instruments that people use to pass accounts and property on to their loved ones at death. Although a revocable living trust is often used in place of a will, the two are not mutually exclusive. You can have both a will and a...
When using trusts in estate planning, a key element includes transferring the trustmaker’s real estate into the trust by recording a deed with the local recording authority. This step is crucial for ensuring that the trustee has the authority to manage and ultimately...
When it comes to your healthcare, especially during these uncertain times, you need to ensure that two estate planning documents in particular are up to date. The first is your healthcare power of attorney. This document allows you to name a person to make medical...
According to Statista, more than 295 million people in the United States use social media. If you are an avid social media user, have you considered what will happen to your accounts when you die? If you have spent time creating, uploading, and sharing content, it...
An obituary can be much more than just a dry announcement of the time and location of your funeral or memorial service. It can be a way to share your life story, communicating information about significant events and people, as well as important values you would like...
Most states have laws that prevent someone who has intentionally killed another individual from being able to inherit any property from their victim. In general, these laws are referred to as “slayer statutes” and are designed to prevent the patently unjust outcome...
Do you really own the home you live in? If you are currently living in a property that you inherited but the deed has not been transferred into your name, you may be surprised to learn that, under the law, you are technically not the owner. This legal situation is...
Thank you for all that you do for us. We understand that being the first one on the scene can come with many different risks. We are dedicated to protecting you and your loved ones from the different types of emergencies that may pop up during your life. The following...
It is okay to not be okay. Removing the stigma of mental health starts with realizing that many people—about one in five of all US adults--are affected by mental illness. Understanding this fact can lead to more people getting the help they require, not only by...
A complete estate plan must include certain essential parts. In fact, it is similar to building a snowman in some respects. The traditional snowman has several critical components: bottom, middle, and top snowballs, as well as “arms” and a “ face.” If any of these are...
The bad news: When a deceased person’s estate (all of their money and property) has to go through probate (the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s money and property), it can be subject to a variety of costs stemming from attorneys, executors,...
It is important to think carefully about your ability or willingness to serve as an executor or trustee for someone else. If a family member or friend has asked you to serve as the executor of his or her estate or as trustee of a trust he or she is creating, there are...
In a constantly evolving world, having the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances is a valuable trait. But is flexibility less important in estate planning than in other areas of life? In many situations, you may not want your estate planning documents to be...
Working with an attorney to draft a trust agreement for estate planning purposes is an important step. But just getting the document drafted and signed is not enough. For any trust to be effective, you must complete the process of funding your trust as soon as you...
Estate planning can be a very difficult process. While it is not brain surgery, making the decision to move forward with an estate plan requires us to face the fact that we will not live forever. This thought stops many people in their tracks. Others talk themselves...
Part of protecting your loved ones when you pass away is making sure that you have a proper estate plan in place. Another aspect is making sure that the right amount of money is available to carry out your goals for their futures. Life insurance has helped many people...
For many people, the thought of meeting with an estate planning attorney strikes fear into their hearts. It can be uncomfortable to even consider the possibility of no longer being able to manage your own affairs, let alone no longer being alive, with your property...
If you were to ask attorneys across the country how often they get phone calls like the following, the answer (“Very frequently”) may surprise you. The phone call might go something like this: “Hi, this is John Jones. My dad, Bill Jones, passed away recently and we...
Even if you do not listen to pop music, it has been hard to ignore the recent news about Britney Spears and the #FreeBritney movement trending on social media. What is this movement all about? And why should average Americans care? In 2008, pop singer and superstar...
When it comes to your healthcare, especially during these uncertain times, you need to ensure that two estate planning documents in particular are up to date. The first is your healthcare power of attorney. This document allows you to name a person to make medical...
According to a study conducted by Caring.com, the percentage of people aged fifty-five and older who have created a will has fallen from 60 percent to 44 percent since 2019. Although creating or updating your estate planning may seem like a daunting task, a proper...
Divorce is more common now than it was in the past, as is remarriage. Depending on how long a prior marriage lasted, the former couple may have engaged in certain levels of estate planning together. When that is the case, it is important to understand how a subsequent...
Besides directing what happens to your finances when you pass away, a comprehensive estate plan also addresses the possibility that you could become unable to handle your financial affairs while you are still alive. You may have signed a financial power of attorney...
A loved one’s passing is felt by their entire surviving family. But when it comes to carrying out the decedent’s final wishes, not everyone has an equal say. In fact, in many cases, only one person—the executor, or personal representative, of the estate—plays a role...
Whether you have inherited your wealth or have built it yourself, you likely want to share this wealth with the next generation and beyond. The quotation “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” has often been attributed to Andrew Carnegie. The same concept...
In today’s digital age, many people have a library of digital assets that may include items such as books, music, and movies. One of the perceived benefits of owning these digital items is having a convenient way to access your favorite media indefinitely with just a...
There was a time when most people heard about prenuptial agreements only when watching soap operas or Hollywood movies or reading a novel. For many of us, prenuptial agreements seemed to be reserved only for the ultrawealthy, where the continuation of dynastic family...
Do not let constant political and financial speculation prevent you from making tax-free annual exclusion, medical-payment, and educational gifts to or for the benefit of your loved ones. Make Annual Exclusion Gifts Annual exclusion gifts are transfers of money or...
Clients often naturally choose their children to be beneficiaries of their revocable living trusts. Many clients also wish to name one or more of their children as the trustee of that trust, but are not sure if that is allowed by the law. The short answer is yes, a...
Starting a new job is an exciting new chapter in your life. Depending on your company’s onboarding process, there can be a lot of moving parts. You may feel overwhelmed by the introduction and review of the many different types of employee benefits. Not only are there...