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
- Elder Financial Abuse: Protecting Those Who Can No Longer Take Care of ThemselvesWhen the media reports on elder abuse, physical abuse almost always seems to come to the forefront, and for good reason: the physical safety of the elderly, those that often cannot protect themselves, is and should be the first concern for protecting our older friends and relatives.
- Are You Ready to Exit Your Business? But Is Your Business Ready?Let’s say that a buyer came to you and offered you plenty of cash for your business that would give you total financial security…would you sell?
- What Happens if I Need a Guardian?A guardian is a person who is given legal authority over another person because of reason of incapacity. If a court determines that a person is unable to make decisions for himself or herself, it may appoint a guardian. A guardian can be given authority over the person, his or her assets or both. The process involved in appointing a guardian is dependent on state law and the circumstances.
- Saving Private Practice: Preserving Income after DepartureA professional practice (dental, medical, legal, etc.) is unlike any other type of business in that it is not freely transferable and it cannot be owned or operated by someone who is not a licensed member of the profession.
- Does an Advance Medical Directive Have to be Followed?An advance medical directive allows a person to write out specific healthcare decisions that they want to make based upon certain conditions, such as being diagnosed with a terminal illness. In the event that the patient is not able to communicate his or her wishes, the directive serves as a guide to medical professionals about the types of medical treatments that the patient would or would not want to receive if he or she were able to communicate this information.
- Estate Planning for Young FamiliesIndividuals who have young families have special considerations. They often need to take specific and direct steps to protect their spouse and children. While many individuals postpone estate planning until they are older, doing so can lead to disastrous consequences.
- What is a Special Needs Trust and when Should I have One Made?A special needs trust is a special type of trust that is used to supplement the needs of someone with a disability without causing him or her to lose other benefits to which he or she is entitled to receive. These trusts must often follow very specific guidelines to ensure that the beneficiary continues to maintain eligibility for governmental programs.
- Challenges to Effective Business Succession PlanningA business exit strategy, or a succession plan, requires a strong organized plan for the unexpected. That includes preparing for contingencies like financial hardship, disability, injury, and death.
- Problems with Using Fill in the Blank WillsSome office supply stores and websites offer inexpensive fill-in-the-blank wills that seem like an affordable alternative to having to pay an estate planning lawyer. However, these generic documents are often not a suitable do-it-yourself alternative. Failing to hire an estate planning lawyer can result in disastrous consequences.
- Treating Children Fairly in WillsMany individuals leave an inheritance to their children. They may be concerned about how to treat their children fairly in their wills in order to avoid hard feelings or bitter battles between siblings. Some considerations to this topic include:
- 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!