Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law




What is Estate Planning law? This area governs the laws, procedures and practices associated with planning for one’s estate in the event that he/she becomes incapacitated and for when he/she is deceased. It encompasses the roles and activities of Executors and Administrators; creation and administration of Wills and Last Testaments; Trusts and Living Trusts; Probate; Medical Powers of Attorney, DNR Orders and Advance Directives; associated tax issues; and various other related topics.

The laws governing most of these areas are created primarily on the state level and therefore vary greatly. The Uniform Probate Code (UPC) has sought to clarify, unify and modernize these laws throughout all the U.S states and D.C., but to date, only about 30% have completely adopted the Code, while some of the remaining state have only implemented parts of it. Estate related tax issues, such as gift tax laws and federal estate tax, and various college savings plans are regulated by federal as well as state laws.

The Estate Planning Center on HG.org provides in depth coverage of estate planning law, with detailed definitions and links to various resources. In addition to the topics referenced above, our Estate Planning Center also offers resources, infomraiton and links covering the Fundamentals of Estate Planning; Types of Wills and Testaments; Types of Trusts; Property That Does Not Pass Via a Will; and Other Estate Planning Issues.

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Articles on HG.org Related to Estate Planning and Trust Law

  • 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 Will
    Everyone 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 Executor
    Your 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.
  • Court of Appeals of Georgia Confirms the Importance of a Well-Drafted Contract
    In large construction projects, it is not unusual to have a joint venture between parties; when these joint venture agreements are terminated, however, the specific terms must be scrutinized. A recent Georgia Court of Appeals case discusses some important issues such as fiduciary responsibility, contract ambiguity, and indeminification.
  • What Is a Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy?
    When a person hears the term “estate planning,” he or she often thinks about devising a will and maybe setting up a trust. For the most part, these tools focus primarily on what happens after a person passes away. However, much of creating an effective estate plan relies on having a plan in case you become incapacitated and are unable to make important decisions on your own. Two primary tools are used in this regard.
  • California's Loss of Tesla's $6 Billion Battery Factory
    A question of free market vs. government over-regulation to address the issue of environmental sustainability.
  • What Are the Benefits of a Living Revocable Trust?
    Many individuals choose to use a living revocable trust as part of their estate plan or for other purposes. Such trusts provide distinct advantages over wills or other devices.
  • Family Limited Partnerships and Divorce: Structuring the Division
    Family Limited Partnerships can present unique challenges in divorce litigation relative to the division of property and debt. It is vital to understand the key components, their structure and various valuation methods in order to effectively represent a client where a Family Limited Partnership is part of divorce proceedings.
  • Child Emancipation and Disability in Colorado
    Colorado child emancipation and disability cases can be complicated ones. This article addresses the basic issues with respect to state law.
  • Georgia Court of Appeals Decides Against Material Supplier
    A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals has given homeowners loop-hole against lien claims as the lien claimant's summary judgment against the homeowner was reversed.
  • All Estate Planning and Trust Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Estate Planning including: estate and trust, inheritance law, personal property, probate, wills.

Estate Planning and Trust Law - US

  • ABA - Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section

    The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section is a leading national forum for lawyers, and currently has over 30,000 members. The Real Property Division focuses on legal aspects of property use, ownership, development, transfer, regulation, financing, taxation and disposal. The Trust and Estate Division focuses on all aspects of trusts, estate planning, employee benefits, insurance, and probate and trust litigation.

  • Elder Law Answers - Estate Planning

    The knowledge that we will eventually die is one of the things that seems to distinguish humans from other living beings. At the same time, no one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own death. But if you postpone planning for your demise until it is too late, you run the risk that your intended beneficiaries -- those you love the most -- may not receive what you would want them to receive whether due to extra administration costs, unnecessary taxes or squabbling among your heirs.

  • Federal Inheritance Tax

    Depending on where you live the tax code may make reference to inheritance tax, estate tax, and even "death duty." Here in the United States, there is a difference between estate taxes and inheritance taxes. Estate taxes are levied on representatives of the deceased person, while inheritance taxes are levied on the beneficiaries of an estate. Elsewhere in the world, the terms estate tax and inheritance tax are used interchangeably.

  • IRS - Estate and Gift Taxes

    The Estate Tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death. It consists of an accounting of everything you own or have certain interests in at the date of death. The fair market value of these items is used, not necessarily what you paid for them or what their values were when you acquired them. The total of all of these items is your "Gross Estate." The includible property may consist of cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets.

Organizations Related to Estate Planning and Trust Law

  • American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys

    The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys is an exclusive, membership organization serving the needs of attorneys and law firms nationwide. Academy members focus on one or more of the following areas: estate planning, elder law, post-mortem services and financial services. Members are equipped with the legal research and education it takes to serve consumers with the highest quality advice and documents.

  • American Association of Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Attorneys

    The American Association of Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Attorneys (AATEELA) is an invitation-only, professional association of estate planning and elder law attorneys from across the United States. Members are selected on the basis of their professional reputation, ability and creativity in the fields of trusts, estates and elder law. Each has made substantial contributions to these fields through lecturing, writing, and continuing education instruction.

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

    The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is a nonprofit association of lawyers established in 1949. Its members are elected to the College by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trust and estate counselors. All ACTEC members have made substantial contributions to the field of trusts and estates law through writing, teaching and bar leadership activities.

  • National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys

    The National Network is a cooperative alliance of nationally recognized estate planning attorneys from across the country. Together they provide one another with the support and tools needed to serve their clients better while building highly successful and rewarding practices.

  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners

    The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is a unique professional body providing members with a local, national and international learning and business network. STEP provides education, training, representation and networking for its members, who are professionals specialising in trusts and estates, executorship, administration and related taxes. Members advise clients on the broad business of the management of personal finance. Full members of STEP are the most experienced and senior practitioners in the field of trusts and estates.

Publications Related to Estate Planning and Trust Law

  • ABA - Estate Planning FAQs

    The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section provides a wealth of practice information. Whether you’re looking for RPTE Section news, law specialty issues and cases, or news-and-feature articles, we strive to meet your educational and informational needs!

  • Oxford Journals - Trust and Trustees

    Trusts & Trustees is the leading international journal on trust law and practice. The most significant source of information in its field, the journal is essential for all trusts practitioners and lawyers,

  • Trusts and Estates

    Trusts & Estates is the town center where experts who serve the ultra-wealthy's planning needs gather to gain insight into their specialties and to learn about related professions. This community includes attorneys, fiduciaries, accountants, investment advisors, charitable giving specialists, family office executives, insurance agents and valuation experts.


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