Estate Planning Law Center
Fundamentals of Estate Planning, Will & Testaments, Advance Medical Directives, Probate
- What is Estate Planning
- Fundamentals of Estate Planning
- Estate Executors and Administrators
- Fundamentals of Wills and Last Testaments
- Types of Wills and Testaments
- Advance Medical Directives
- Fundamentals of Trusts and Living Trusts
- Types of Trusts
- Property That Does Not Pass Via a Will
- Other Estate Planning Issues
- More Information about Estate Planning
- Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law
- Wills and Testament Law
- Wills and Testament Law by State
What is Estate Planning
Your estate consist of all your property, which includes your house and other real estate; tangible personal property; and intangible property, like insurance, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions, etc.
The elements of an estate plan include a will; assignment of power of attorney; a living will or health-care proxy; and for some people, a trust.
When you are setting up an estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:
- Whom do you want to inherit your assets?
- Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you are ever incapacitated?
- Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself?
Recent Articles Related to Estate Planning
- How Do Inheritance Laws Work?Someone has passed away and that person's friends, family, and loved ones are left to sort out what to do with the things that are left behind. This can include both assets and liabilities. Whether a will was left or not, it is often important to understand how inheritance laws work in order to avoid disputes and keep anyone from being left with nothing but debt.
- What is the Difference Between a Will-based Plan and a Trust-based Plan?Explaining the differences between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan so you can make an educated decision for your family about what is best for you and, ultimately, for them.
- Inherited IRAs and Creditor ProtectionYour IRA is protected from creditors if you have to file bankruptcy, but what happens to that IRA if you die and leave it to a child? Many assumed that the inherited IRA retained that creditor protection in a child’s bankruptcy. The United States Supreme Court ruled otherwise in Clark v. Rameker, 134 S. Ct. 2242 (2014).
- Will my Designated Beneficiary Receive the Proceeds from my Life Insurance Policy?The answer should be yes, but if you have had major life events in your family, such as births, adoptions, divorce, marriage, or deaths, your loved ones may be in for a surprise. If you fail timely to update your beneficiaries, or fail to provide a paper trail showing your intent to keep them the same, you may unwittingly be disinheriting a child or benefiting an ex-spouse.
- Michigan Court Rules that Biological Relationship Not Necessary to Inherit as a ChildWhen is a child a child? The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that it is not necessary to establish a biological relationship in order to be treated as a child for intestate succession purposes. The laws of intestate succession provide a distribution plan for the assets of people who do not have a Last Will & Testament.
- It's the New Year, is Your Estate Plan up to Date?Now that the ball has dropped and toasts have been made, did you make a New Year’s Resolution? While many people make resolutions, very few make it their top priority to get their estate plan in order. Even if you have an estate plan in place, situations change - babies are born, marriages are celebrated, loved ones die and divorces happen - these changes merit re-evaluating your estate plan. If you have been procrastinating about estate planning, here are some pointers to get you started.
- New Rules for Estate Recovery in WisconsinIn 2014, the rules regulating the Wisconsin Estate Recovery program were updated to allow Medicaid and other long-term care insurance programs to recover funds from recipients of such coverage after they have passed on by claiming parts of their estates.
- What Are My Rights Under Community Property Distribution?While the majority of states require that assets be distributed in an equitable division upon divorce, community property states view all property that was accumulated during the marriage to be the equal property of both spouses.
- Why Everyone Should Have a WillEveryone should have a will to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Since the purpose of a will is to make clear your final wishes, it is important to consult a professional during this process to ensure this complicated process produces a clear and concise, legal document.
- Duties and Role of an ExecutorYour friend calls you up one day and says that he is writing his will. He asks if you will be willing to serve as executor. What should you say? Before you answer that question, you should know about the duties you will be responsible for if you choose to act as executor. Let's discuss what you should consider.
- Divorce and Estate Planning
If you are going through or even contemplating a divorce, the single most important step you can take to make sure that your desires are carried out is to execute a new will, power-of-attorney and health care proxy.
- DIY Estate Plans
Many people view estate planning as selling of commodity documents (like wills, trusts, etc.). And if that is all there is to it, then they are right to choose DIY options like the form sites that are available. This article discusses DIY estate planning.
- Do-It-Yourself Wills Leave Families Unprotected
As the economy crawls sluggishly toward recovery, individuals and families continue to make difficult financial choices. In an effort to save money, people are increasingly attempting to personally handle tasks that were once reserved for professionals.
- Golden Years can be Tarnished by Lack of Planning
Retirees often come to Arizona to enjoy their golden years in great weather and an affordable state with spectacular natural beauty. Things sometimes turn ugly and expensive for seniors in Arizona, however.
- Is This a Good Time to Transfer Your Wealth to Your Children?
Is this a good time to transfer your wealth to your children? With the interest rates at a really low rate, and with the economic fallout from the present economy, even people with money do not feel flush now and may decide that they do not want to make gifts to the next generation. Even though the economy has been in recession many times before and has come out of it to prosperity, sometimes it is hard to look beyond the present time to see that prosperity.
- Making Estate Planning a Family Affair
Very few people are excited about drawing up their estate plans.
- Pet Trusts Are an Important Part of Estate Planning
A pet trust should be included as part of any good estate plan, just as a will, POS, HCP, and LW are the minimums everyone should have. The Helmsley debacle outlined some problems in her Pet Trust and will. Good drafting goes a long way.
- Repeal of Estate Tax Likely to be Short-Lived
As December 31 came and went, so did the federal estate tax - or at least for the time being. The estate tax, or the "death tax" as it is more affectionately known, is a tax imposed on the property and assets (i.e. "the estate") that an individual leaves behind at death. Under 2009 rates, the first $3.5 million of the estate was exempt from the tax while any amount over this was taxed at 45 percent.
- Seniors – Planning Ahead is Key to Financial Stability
Recently, there was a case in the news of a Brooks Astor, a New York socialite, who is now 104 years old. Her grandson is in a heated battle to remove his dad as Mrs. Astor's caregiver. In court papers that were filed, the grandson accused his father of ignoring Mrs. Astor's health and personal needs and requested a friend of Mrs. Astor's be appointed as her guardian.
- The Pitfalls of Improper Titling of your Assets
Even if the terms of your estate plan meet your current goals, your estate plan could be defeated if your assets are not titled in accordance with your particular estate plan.
- The Value of Gifts to Estate Planning
Gifts offer an important tool for Estate Planners to avoid federal estate taxes. However if gifts do not take into account the special circumstances of the giver and recipient it may create more harm than help.
- Three Ways to Ensure your Minor Children can Inherit without Costly Guardianship Proceedings
While it’s not a pleasant subject, sometimes parents pass away while their children are still under the age of 18. What happens then? In this article, we discuss the perils of guardianship and three ways to avoid it.
- What is IRS Section 529?
IRS section 529 or Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP's) are found under Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter F, Part VIII, Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code or "IRC". It is considered the most complicated and hard to read section of the Code and a good treatment for insomnia. This section deals with special tax breaks for families, hence the "insomnia effect".
- Why You Need an Estate Plan
With the repeal of the estate tax (and generation skipping tax or "GST"), you may have put your estate plan on hold. This could be a serious mistake and put your family's (and business') financial future in jeopardy!