Estate Planning

August 28, 2013   Estate Planning

What Happens to Your Will When You Move?

Generally speaking, a will that has been validly drafted in one state will be valid under the laws of any other state. Realistically, however, it often becomes problematic when wills cross state lines. Moreover, all estate planning documents need to be periodically updated as a person’s life circumstances change. It is therefore good practice to update all of your estate planning documents after an out-of-state move.   The state laws that govern estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, medical directives, and powers of attorney are different in every state. Although these documents may function outside of the state in which you drafted them, there may be extra steps necessary such as locating witnesses and obtaining affidavits. In extreme cases, documents drafted in one...
August 27, 2013   Estate Planning

James Gandolfini’s Disastrous Estate Plan

By Wendi Temkin, Attorney at Law
James Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano on the hit HBO series, died of a heart attack at the age of 51 this June.  His death and the plans he put into place just months before should both serve as a wakeup call for anyone still sitting on the fence about doing their own estate plan.  Not only must you act before it is too late, but you must act in a way that will benefit rather than harm your loved ones.   Gandolfini left behind his wife Deborah, his 13-year old son Michael from his first marriage, and his baby daughter Liliana.  His estate, minus assets previously placed into trusts for his wife and son, is estimated to be worth $70 million.  With that kind of cash, you would think he could afford to hire competent legal counsel.    Ins...
August 26, 2013   Estate Planning

Small Children and Estate Plans

There is no better reason to have an estate plan in place than for the well being of your young children. Often, young parents avoid estate planning because they believe that they are too young, healthy, or can’t afford an attorney. However, estate planning is a vital part of caring for your young child.   The most important part of an estate plan for young parents is naming a guardian for the children. The guardian is the person who will care for the children should both parents die before the children reach the age of majority. Select someone you trust to raise your children, and discuss your selection with the person before finalizing your will. When making your selection consider the age of the person, and whether they will be able to provide adequate care. Name a secondary...
August 23, 2013   Estate Planning

What Happens if I Die Without an Estate Plan?

Despite the importance of having an estate plan, many Americans die without one every day. Individuals who die without an estate plan are said to die intestate. If you die intestate, the State in which you died determines how your assets will be distributed. All fifty states have laws concerning intestate succession.   The purpose of intestate succession law is to distribute a decedent’s estate in a manner that conforms to what the average person would have wanted. Most intestate succession plans follow a standard pattern of transferring assets to a decedent’s closest relatives, beginning with his or her spouse and children. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse or child, the assets will typically go to his or her parents, then his or her siblings, then his or h...
August 19, 2013   Estate Planning

Common Types of Trusts

Trusts are a very common part of many estate plans. Trusts come in many different varieties and serve a multitude of different purposes. Below are several of the more common types of trusts.   Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts: The two basic types of trusts are revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust allows the trust creator to maintain control of all trust assets. After establishing a revocable trust, the trust creator can amend or revoke the trust at any time. On the other hand, an irrevocable trust cannot be amended or revoked. Once a person places assets in an irrevocable trust, the assets no longer belong to him or her.   Credit Shelter Trusts: Credit shelter trusts, which are also referred to as bypass or family trusts, are employed for the purpose of transferring asse...
July 31, 2013   Estate Planning

How to Choose an Executor for Your Estate

Your estate plan is the combination of documents through which you can determine how your estate will be distributed upon your death. When you create your estate plan, you must also designate the person who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions that you leave. This is a very important decision that should not be made lightly.   Being named the executor of a will is not an honor. Rather, it is a large responsibility. The executor of a will must perform various tasks, such as notifying all of the decedent’s creditors, establishing the value of the total estate, filing any necessary tax documents, settling taxes accordingly, and distributing the remaining assets.   When selecting an executor, the most important consideration is whether the person can handle the va...
July 24, 2013   Estate Planning

Alternatives to Pet Trusts

When Leona Helmsley died in 2007, she left a whopping $12 million to her dog, Trouble. Although most people do not leave their pets such astounding amounts in their estate plans, many consider their pets to be family members, and want to provide for them accordingly.   Providing for your pet in an estate plan is tricky because, unlike a human relative, you cannot simply leave money outright to your pet. Therefore, many pet owners have turned to pet trusts. Through a pet trust, a pet owner can set aside a specified amount of money for his or her pet. The pet owner can draft a trust document that explains when and how money is to be withdrawn from the trust and spent on the pet.   Although pet trusts are very popular, there are many alternatives that may be a better fit for your fa...
July 17, 2013   Estate Planning

Reviewing Your Estate Plan Before a Late-in-Life Marriage

A rapidly growing number of Americans are choosing to wed after age 50. If you are one of the many individuals planning a later-in-life marriage, you should include a trip to your estate-planning attorney on the list of things to do before you say “I do.”   What If I Don’t Need To Provide For My New Spouse? Individuals typically become more financially secure as they age. Therefore, it is common for those entering into later-in-life marriages to not require any financial support from their new spouse. Many later-in-life newlyweds also have children from past marriages that they would like to provide for in their estate plans.   After you are married, however, state law in every state except Georgia makes it impossible to disinherit your spouse without his or her...
June 10, 2013   Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners: Ensuring Your Wishes Are Met if You Are Incapacitated

In part one of this two-part article, we explained that proper estate planning is about creating a set of written instructions to specify how you want your property handled after your death and how you want your property and health care decisions handled during any period you may be incapacitated. We also emphasized that while proper planning is important for everyone, it is especially important for unmarried partners.   Part one addressed after-death estate planning. In part two, we’ll look at what you need to consider in case of you or your partner’s incapacity.   Who Will Manage Your Assets if You’re Incapacitated? With proper planning, YOU decide   Incapacity means you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Incapacity may result from an i...
June 3, 2013   Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners: Ensuring Your Wishes Are Met After Your Death

Estate planning is creating a set of instructions that specify how you want your property handled after your death, and how you want your property and health care decisions handled during any period you may be incapacitated. Proper estate planning is important for everyone. But for unmarried partners—opposite sex or same sex—an estate plan is critical. In part one of this two-part article, we’ll look at some issues to consider for your after death estate planning.   Why Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners Is Critical Avoid the state default plan   In a way, everyone has an estate plan. If you haven’t created one, your state has a default plan for you. Your assets will probably go through a court process called intestate (no Will) probate. And your state...
Free Estate Planning Checklist

Free Estate Planning Webinar

Stay Updated

Stay updated by receiving updates to's free resources, latest topics, premium content, upcoming events and more!

Subscribe to Our E-Newsletter