Estate Planning

March 27, 2014   Estate Planning

Hold a Family Meeting to Explain Your Estate Plan

Parents are often reluctant to share their estate plans with their adult children. Some may feel it is a private matter, only to be unveiled after their death. Many are afraid of creating relationship problems within the family, for example if one child is chosen to be a trustee or executor over the others or if inheritances are not equal. But explaining your decisions now to your family, in a general way, will avoid surprises later and make it more likely that they will accept them. Holding a family meeting is a good way to do this. Ask your estate planning attorney and financial advisor to be there. They will be able to explain how your plan will work and why these decisions were made, as well as answer any questions. This will also introduce your advisors to your family members so they...
March 25, 2014   Estate Planning

Organize Your Information

Many people put off having the proper documents and organizing their information because they don’t want to think about their own death. But much of this same information will be needed if you become ill or injured and spend time in a hospital and rehabilitation. Here is a general checklist of documents and information that should be updated and organized. You will surely think of more as you consider the information someone else would need in order to care for you and your loved ones if you are unable to tell them where to find it. Take a weekend to start organizing your information now. Make sure someone you trust knows where to find everything. Then, at least once each year, review it and make sure it is current. Estate planning documents. If you have a revocable living trust,...
March 13, 2014   Estate Planning

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

Many people now choose a revocable living trust instead of relying on a will or joint ownership in their estate planning. A living trust that has been properly prepared and funded with your assets can provide many benefits for you and your loved ones.   How many of these benefits of a revocable living trust are you familiar with?  Avoids the time and expense of probate when you die.Avoids multiple probates if you own assets in more than one state.Provides easier, more efficient administration of your estate.Prevents court interference at incapacity.Gives you and your family maximum privacy by avoiding public court processes.Minimizes emotional stress on your family.Brings all of your assets into one plan controlled by one set of instructions.Prevents unintentional disinheriting.M...
March 11, 2014   Estate Planning

How to Talk with Your Family About Estate Planning Matters

People are often hesitant to discuss estate planning matters with family members. But proper planning—or the lack thereof—affects everyone in the family. While it may feel uncomfortable to initiate the conversation, it is important to have honest discussions and take action if needed. One way to bring up the subject is to mention a situation you have seen in the news or one that has happened to someone you know, and suggest that a conversation could be helpful for your family before a problem occurs. Wanting to avoid problems that other families are having because someone did not plan, or wanting to be as smart as others who did plan, is often a good incentive. Another approach is to be an enthusiastic example. If you have recently completed or updated your estate plan, share...
January 23, 2014   Estate Planning

Why Having A Will Ensures Probate

A will is an expression of your wishes—what you want to happen to your assets after you die. And, yes, all wills must go through some kind of probate process before they can go into effect.   What is Probate? Probate is the legal process through which the court makes sure that, after you die, your will is legally valid, your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to the instructions contained in your will. (If you don’t have a will, your state has laws that dictate how your assets will be distributed.) How complicated the probate process becomes will depend on the laws in your state, the kinds and values of your assets, and if there any contests or other problems.   Probate has existed for hundreds of years. It was created to protect creditors, asset...
November 25, 2013   Estate Planning

When to Hire a Probate Attorney

Acting as the executor of a loved one’s estate plan is often a daunting task. In order to avoid expenses, the person administering an estate will often try to do everything by himself, without seeking professional advice. Although some estates may be administered without professional help, there are some circumstances under which an administrator should hire an attorney to assist or take over the process.   Discord Among Family Members On problem that can quickly escalate and threaten to derail the process of administering an estate is that of discord among family members. Family members who are unhappy with the administration of an estate may begin a will contest. Not only do will contests often drain large amounts of money from a person’s estate, but they also cause prol...
November 20, 2013   Estate Planning

Serial Wills for Discordant Families

A person who drafts ‘serial’ wills drafts many wills separated by various periods of time. Serial wills are beneficial for those in discordant families, because they strengthen the current will against challenge.   Will challenges are common among family members who are unhappy with the terms of the will. In instances where a person’s most recent will has terms that are largely similar to those in previous wills, a person who wishes to challenge the terms of a will must also challenge the terms in the prior wills. This makes such challenges difficult, if not impossible. Moreover, this could quickly become a time consuming and expensive process.   Consider employing the serial will technique if you anticipate that one or more of your beneficiaries will be unhappy...
November 13, 2013   Estate Planning

Is Estate Planning More Important for Women?

Despite your age, gender, or wealth, estate planning is vital for everyone. That being said, estate planning may be more important for women than it is for men.   Recent statistics show that, on average, a woman will outlive her husband by seven years. Additionally, the average groom is 2.3 years older than his bride. Therefore, there is a large probability that the wife will one day become individually responsible for managing the assets that the couple has amassed throughout their lives.   Aside from their longer life expectancy, women are also a powerful financial force. The large number of women in the workforce has contributed to women controlling over half of the wealth in the United States. Estate planning is the only way through which a woman can ensure that this wealth i...
November 11, 2013   Estate Planning

Estate Planning Myths That Can Ruin Your Plans

For some, estate planning can be quite a confusing topic. The confusing nature of estate planning is often compounded by various estate planning myths that people hear from friends or family members who are not knowledgeable about estate planning law. Below are several of the more common estate planning myths, as well as the truth behind them.   Myth: If I Have a Will, My Estate Will Avoid Probate Conversely, all property transferred via a will is guaranteed to go through probate. Through the process of probate, a court oversees the distribution of a person’s estate and ensures the decedent’s wishes, as outlined in the will, are carried out.   Myth: A Life Insurance Payout Will Not Trigger Estate Taxes When the government determines the value of your estate for purpos...
November 8, 2013   Estate Planning

How to Pick a Legal Guardian for Your Children

The single most important estate-planning decision a parent will make is designating who will care for his or her children, should he or she become incapacitated or pass on before the children reach the age of majority. The best guardian may not always be an obvious choice. If you are having trouble deciding who you would like to be the guardian for your minor children, consider these three practices, listed below.   Consider Values and Philosophies Should the unthinkable happen, the guardian you select will be raising your children. Therefore, it is important to select a guardian that shares your values and philosophies. Consider any religious beliefs, philosophies on child rearing, and educational, moral, and social values.   Consider Practical Factors It is also important to c...
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