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

  • How Do Inheritance Rights Vary Between Legitimate and Illegitimate Children?
    Once, expectant parents were quite concerned about marrying before a child was born in order to protect that child's claims to legitimacy. There was a time when legitimacy was a very important legal consideration, particularly when it came to inheritance rights. Today, the role of legitimacy in a child's birth rights is very different than it once was.
  • When Can I Withhold Rent and Not Get Evicted?
    Anyone who has had a disagreement with a landlord has probably wondered if they could withhold rent until the issue was resolved. To the surprise of many, there are actually circumstances under which a tenant can lawfully withhold rent and not have to worry about getting evicted. So what are those circumstances?
  • Can Anyone Stop Me From Putting Up a Satellite Dish?
    As options for television channels have increased, satellite TV has become a very popular alternative to cable. Unfortunately, to receive these broadcasts, one needs to install a satellite dish on the outside of a building, and this can lead to disputes. Thus, many ask “can anyone stop me from putting up a satellite dish?”
  • Contributing to Your Grandchildren's Future
    When estate planning, gifting assets to your grandchildren can do more than help your descendants get a good start in life; it can also reduce the size of your estate and the tax that will be due upon your death.
  • Are There Any Ways to Fight Big Businesses Moving Into the Neighborhood?
    The American economy has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. One of the biggest changes over the last 100 years has been a shift away from small, family owned stores to the “big box” megastore.
  • My Neighbor's Dog Keeps Barking; Do I Have Any Legal Rights?
    Noisy dogs are a common legal dispute. After all, while pet owners may feel annoyance at a dog that barks at every little noise, a neighbor has absolutely no control over training the dog not to respond in this manner. Thus, as the neighbor, what can you do legally to get the pet owner to quiet his noisy animal?
  • The Duties of a Trustee: How to Choose, How to Prepare
    It is not unusual for a family member to be named as trustee for a trust that benefits a number of other family members. However, just because you are related to someone does not necessarily make him or her a good trustee.
  • Setting up Your Wills and Trusts with an Estate Attorney
    If you or someone you love is planning their estate, it can be a difficult and complicated process trying to wade through all the legal rules and regulations that pertain to writing your will and related documents. Setting up wills and trusts can be especially difficult because the task is often mixed in with a variety of issues such as ill health, complicated family histories, and other emotional dilemmas, which are commonly faced toward the end of a lifetime.
  • 6 Circumstances where a Trust Will Serve You Better than a Will
    A will is the cornerstone of a complete Florida estate plan, and may be useful for anyone with assets that they wish to pass along to others, as well as parents of minor children who will need a will to name guardians for their children.
  • What Are the Requirements of a Valid Will?
    In order for a will to be valid, it must comply with certain legal formalities. There are dire consequences of a will not following these formalities, including the decedent’s estate being distributed according to the rules of intestacy and the will being completely ignored. While the legal requirements vary by state, here are some guidelines that many states have regarding the creation of a valid will.
  • 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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