Estate Planning Law Articles

Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide
discussing legal aspects related to Estate Planning.




Pets Must Be Included in Your Estate Plan

If you want to be totally prepared for all of the possible contingencies that go along with aging there is a lot to take into account.

Are You Getting Prepared for Retirement?

When you are immersed in your career during your working years it is understandable that you may be living in the present as you address all the twists and turns that come your way.

Tax-Free Educational Gifts & The Estate Tax

The estate tax is one of the first things that you should take into consideration when you are planning your estate.

Working Longer Can Be Retirement Planning Solution

They say that "50 is the new 40," and it is true that people are living longer, healthier lives so the implications that go along with reaching a certain age are different today than they were decades ago.

7 Estate Planning Insurance Considerations for You

Insurance planning is part of comprehensive estate planning. All your good efforts in planning may be for naught without proper insurance coverage.

How to Store Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning documents need to be stored safely, yet be available, when needed. Here are 6 easy to implement tips on storing your estate planning documents.

Handling Your Power of Attorney for Health Care Affairs

A power of attorney for health care is an extremely important estate planning document. With this tool, you’re able to have a plan in place so that you’re prepared for medical emergencies.

When a Health Care Power of Attorney Works

You need a health care power of attorney. So does your mom, dad, spouse, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, and child (age 18 or older.)

Baby Boomers Becoming Caretakers

A recent survey reported by the newspaper USA Today had some surprising findings for the growing group of baby boomers that are anticipating caring for their aging parents - only half can name any medications their parents take.

18 Questions to Ask During the Estate Planning Process

Rest assured that your estate planning attorney expects you to ask questions. It’s completely normal to ask the same question more than once.

Estate Planning – The Benefits of Peace of Mind

The author has been practicing exclusively in the area of estate planning for over 27 years. Yet, last week a questioned posed by a young couple seemed to resonate in his mind like never before. “What is the number one benefit of doing a trust?”

Do You Need a Durable Financial Power of Attorney

Many people think that the only document they need to have upon their death is a valid will. However, there are many different legal documents that you might need during your life and for your loved ones after you have passed away.

What is a Pooled Charitable Trust?

When many people think about a trust, they automatically conjure up images of a wealthy person with lots of money.

Estate Planning & Medical Gift Giving

On the surface it could seem to the casual observer as though passing along your assets to your family members after you die is a procedurally simple matter.

A Look at Gift/Estate Tax Exemption

One of the reasons why it is advisable to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney is to guide you in a manner that enables you to gain tax efficiency

Generation-Skipping Trust Can Provide Estate Tax Relief

There are a lot of people who think that the estate tax is fundamentally unfair for a number of different reasons.

Why Avoid Probate?

When you use a last will as your primary instrument of vehicle transfer your estate must pass through the process of probate.

Long-Term Care Costs Raising Eyebrows

The rapid aging of the population is one of the most amazing demographic trends of our times, with the “oldest old,” those 85 and up, being the fastest growing group among us.

Gift Giving Can Provide Estate Tax Efficiency

When you are planning for the future with the well being of your loved ones in mind one of the things that you must address is the massive bite of the estate tax

What “Unification” of Gift & Estate Tax Means to You

When you hear that the estate tax is poised to take 35% of the taxable portion of your estate you may get to thinking about giving gifts to your loved ones while you are still alive.

Poll Indicates Many Baby Boomers Not Ready for Retirement

You will usually find that those who are in fact enjoying retirement to the utmost with no financial worries are those who had the foresight to plan in advance.

Be Prepared to Adjust Your Estate Plan

There are those who are under the impression that estate planning is something that only the elderly must consider, but this is not a very pragmatic way of thinking

Don't Forget Your Pets When Planning Your Estate

There are a lot of factors to consider when you are making final plans, and with so much to take into account it would not be impossible to overlook some of the “little things.”

Is Disinheritence because of Sexual Orientation Legal in Canada

In Canada, the law balances the idea of testamentary independence against public policy concerns. Two British Columbia courts have ruled that in today’s society, homosexuality is not a factor that would justify a judicious parent disinheriting or limiting benefits to a child. To date, this issue has not been addressed in Ontario's courts.

Extending Retirement Date Can Be Wise

There are folks who go through life with the vague belief that they will be retiring when they reach their middle 60s without recognizing the fact that this is not a given. The word “retirement” can sometimes sound like a entitlement and it would certainly be nice to be able to relax and enjoy the latter portion of your life without having to work. But in the end, the word simply defines the decision to step away from your career.

AP-LifeGoesStrong.com Poll: Baby Boomers Unprepared for Retirement

At the present time there are 10,000 people applying for Social Security for the first time each and every day because of the fact that the baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age. This in itself is a stunning statistic, but when you hear that this number of daily applicants is expected to persist for the next twenty years it really gets your attention. Are all of these people prepared for retirement financially?

Estate Planning Making Provisions for Pets

When you are planning your estate failing to remember all of the people that you would like to include on your inheritance list is probably not going to be much of a concern. Yet, you may be surprised to hear that there are a lot of people who actually do fail to make provisions for loving dependents who are actually still living at home.

Retirement Planning: Is Social Security Safe?

The sooner you get started planning for your retirement years the better, because the longer you have to reach your goals the more likely it is that you will achieve them.

Advance Health Care Directives: A Basic Adult Responsibility

There are those who say that they don't need to worry about estate planning because they are nowhere near the age when people typically pass away. This is a gambler's mentality because of course you are more likely to pass away at 80 than you are at 30, but there are no guarantees.

Estate Tax Relief Is Not Permanent

People who are interested in estate planning are well aware of the fact that there were some significant changes to the estate tax parameters included in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Measured Giving with Charitable Remainder Unitrusts

When you are taking stock of your legacy making sure that your loved ones are well provided for is very likely to be your number one priority.

The Benefits of Estate Planning

A little known fact is that if you fail to plan your own estate, the state of Colorado will do so for you. The state, however, will not take into consideration your wishes, nor will it be the most cost effective approach to managing your estate upon your death.

Retirement Planning and the HECM

Understanding all the options that are available to you is key when you are planning for your retirement years. This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to work with a retirement planning attorney well in advance of your retirement so that you can tap into that expertise and formulate a fully informed plan.

Estate Planning: Adjustments Necessary

The day that you get your first job that comes with a benefits package is probably going to be the time when you are first introduced to estate planning.

Pros and Cons of a Life Estate

One way to divide property is by setting up a life estate. Say, for example, you want to leave your home to one person, but when that person dies, you want the home to pass to another person, instead of to someone your initial beneficiary chooses.

Roth Conversions

As you probably know, beginning January 1, 2010, Washington loosened rules for converting traditional IRAs (with taxable withdrawals) to “Roth” IRAs (with tax-free withdrawals). The full amount you convert (minus any “basis” in nondeductible contributions) is taxed as ordinary income now when you convert. However, future withdrawals will be tax-free.

What Should I Do with the Dog When I Die? - UK

This article explains what to do about your dog (and other animals) after you die.

How to Begin Your Estate Plan

If you’ve been meaning to start your estate plan, now is a great time. In fact, there won’t be a better time. If you’re unsure of how to get started with the process, you may be frustrated and stressed out.

How Dying Intestate Affects the Blended Family

Dying without a will, known as dying intestate, can create an avalanche of problems for the surviving family members. But what happens if the family is blended? How do you ensure that everyone receives the portion of the estate that was intended for them?

What Is Veterans A and A

Veterans of the United States armed services have many different benefits available to them throughout their lives. One of those benefits is called Veterans Aid & Attendance.

Are You Ready for Retirement

Unfortunately, many of the latest statistics suggest that the majority of Americans nearing their 60s are not ready for retirement. Although recent findings indicate that people are better prepared for retirement than they were less than a decade ago, all is still not well.

Ignore Your Retirement at Your Own Risk

There are those who are under the impression that they will somehow automatically retire when they reach their mid-60s. They think that they will enjoy their golden years and all of the free time they will have on their hands.

Estate Planning is a Reactive, Dynamic Process

It is not uncommon for people to procrastinate before they put an estate plan in place, and they do this for a variety of different reasons. Perhaps the most common one is the simple fact that they feel as though they have plenty of time before the matter is truly relevant. While it is true that the average life expectancy in the United States as of this writing is 78.4 years, it is probably not a good idea to wait until you are 75 to begin to plan your estate.

Not Eligible for Veteran Aid and Assistance? You May Have another Option

If you’re a veteran in need of extra care and assistance, you may have looked into qualifying for aid and assistance benefits.

Unjust Enrichment, Equity and your Mother-in-Law

Mary, her husband Franco and their children lived on a farm owned by Mary’s mother in law. Franco died & his mother sold the farm & gave Mary and her children got nothing. Mary sought compensation for her husband's work on the farm arguing that even without a legally enforceable contract the estate deserved compensation. This article examines how the Ontario Court of Appeal treated her equitable claim.

A Will is Not Enough: Create a Letter of Intent

Many parents choose to create a will so that their minor children are always protected. While a will allows you to appoint a guardian for the care of your minor children, it doesn’t allow you to fully explain the level of care that is needed.

No Will No Control

If you want to have some control over your future, then you need to create a will. Many people assume that their wishes will be respected, even if they don't have a will in place

What Does It Mean to Fund My Revocable Living Trust?

When creating a revocable living trust, it’s important to make sure that you properly fund the trust. Funding best ensures that your estate plan will work, meaning that it will do what you want it to do

The Settlement of an Inheritance’s Case in Greece-How to Get Your Inheritance in Greece

The Greeks abroad can take their share of their inheritance, without even having to travel to Greece.

Response To Estate Tax Educational Gifts

You may have heard that the estate tax exclusion was raised to $5 million with a maximum tax rate of 35% as a result of the passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Early Retirement and Stress

Many of the people who are thinking about retiring early are doing so because they can no longer cope with the stress of the corporate world. These are people that are only in their mid 50s, and want out of their jobs, the sooner the better.

Talk with Your Parents about an Estate Plan

If you are trying to take care of young children, while at the same time caring for aging parents, you know exactly how difficult it can be.

Do-It-Yourself Wills Not Advised

These days you can find information about "how to" do just about anything on the Internet, and the ability that we now have to rapidly exchange information is certainly a good thing. However, it is important to be discerning about the types of things you can and can't effectively do for yourself with some instructions that you get online.

A Guide to Understanding Trusts

Trusts have been touted as an excellent tool to avoid probate and estate taxes. This may be true depending upon your circumstances; however, it is difficult to determine if a trust may be right for you without a basic understanding of trust terminology. Listed below are some basic trusts terms that will help you comprehend the subject.

Estate Planning and the Single Parent

Kai is a single professional woman. She had an unplanned pregnancy at 31 and decided to keep her child. The child’s father who was in his mid 40’s wants nothing to do with the child and denied paternity.

Forms of Ownership of Real Property

In order to understand how your real property will pass to your heirs, you need to know how it is held. Each type of ownership determines whether the property will pass outright to your heir or if it must go through probate. To determine which type of ownership your property has, you must look at your deed. At the top of your deed, after your name, it will state the type of ownership.

Prenuptial Agreements and Estate Planning Considerations: ‘Till Death Do Us Part

Nearly 80,000 Florida residents file for divorce each year. And, Florida has the nation’s highest percentage of residents over the age of 65. Many people enter into a second marriage with significant assets and adult children.

Retirement Planning: HECM Can Provide Liquidity

Retirement planning is a tricky matter because expenses that may possibly come your way can vary dramatically. It is easy to make sweeping statements about what one "should do" that come from the perspective that everyone has more than ample financial resources to handle any and all possible contingencies. However, things are simply not that way for most people, even those who would say that they have been successful throughout their lives.

2009 To My Dog Lucky

If you have a dog, cat or other pet, you know that the unconditional love and affection our pets devote to us improve the quality of our lives in ways nothing else can. Who Will Care For Your Pets? If you have a dog, cat or other pet, you know that the unconditional love and affection our pets devote to us improve the quality of our lives in ways nothing else can. This is why they deserve our respect and dedication even after we pass away or become incapacitated.

2010 Living Trusts Caculating Benefits

Chances are you’ve already heard a lot about the attributes of Living Trusts: avoiding probate and legal quagmires, sometimes lowering estate and/or income taxes and protecting privacy. Yet it’s also important to receive solid estate planning guidance before making final decisions, and to carefully weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks.

2010 Dangers of Do it Yourself

Estate planning is an essential part of life and death. In planning for our future and our family’s future, we must take stock of who we are, what our goals are, and how we want our estate distributed. With the easy availability of do-it-yourself Wills and Living Trusts, it can be all too tempting to take care of your estate planning needs yourself, rather than pay, what may seem like high fees, to an estate planning attorney.

Gift Giving, Medicaid, and the Estate Tax

A lot is said about the complexities of estate planning, but in the end it is a relatively simple matter.

Three Reasons to Avoid Probate

Most people are aware of the fact that the last will is the most commonly utilized vehicle of asset transfer in the field of estate planning.

Getting Started with Your Estate Plan

Making the decision to begin your estate plan can be scary and stressful. This is because you will have to explore many issues and you may not understand what will be involved in the process.

How to Revoke a Power of Attorney

With a Power of Attorney you can appoint someone to handle your financial and legal affairs if you should become incapacitated and unable to take care of your own affairs. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, no one can legally do this for you without first going to court and being appointed as Guardian or the conservator of your estate.

Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

Everyone age 18 and older needs a power of attorney. It is a myth that you can legally sign your spouse’s (or child’s) name on a check, contract, or other document. A power of attorney is a legal document wherein you name an agent to act on your behalf in financial or medical matters.

Removing a Bad Guardian

What do you do if you feel a Guardian is not looking out for the interests of the ward? If you have reason to believe that a Guardian is not fulfilling their obligations to the ward, you must first report your concerns to the Superior Court in the county in which the ward lives.

Jointly Owned Property

Jointly owned property is everywhere. While we were growing up, our moms and dads owned all of their assets jointly. So when we got married, we did the same. We own our assets jointly with our children, second spouses, and siblings. When a joint owner is sued or dies, we see why joint owned property is the big “Oops.”

The 2011 Tax Law

While most folks can breathe a sigh of relief regarding the provisions of the 2011 tax law, this relief will only last for the years 2011 and 2012. If you’re not planning on giving away all of your assets or dying during the next two years, the 2011 tax law will likely affect you and your family.

Five Reasons Not to Prepay Your Funeral Expenses

While funeral planning is an important aspect of an estate plan, we offer the top five reasons not to enter into a prepayment plan with a funeral home.

Planning Retirement – Don’t Skip Life to Create Wealth

A large majority of people in the United States believe that you have to have a lot of money available to you before you can retire, but this isn’t necessarily true. Although it doesn’t hurt to save money when you can, you don’t have to be wealthy in order to enjoy your retirement years.

The Benefits of a US Savings Bond

Investing doesn’t always have to mean taking on a ton of risk. In fact, there are a few investment vehicles that while offering a lower return, are also relatively safe and are a great way to “start small.” U.S. Savings Bonds for example, numerous benefits and little to no risk. What to learn more?

Can I Change My Will?

The short answer is, yes it’s possible to change your Will once it has been drawn up. In fact, it is highly advisable that you schedule regular maintenance reviews to ensure your will is always up to date.

Can a Revocable Living Trust Help Avoid Probate?

Are you wondering if a Trust could help your family avoid probate after your death? A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that can be used to accommodate the control of your property and financial assets.

Does Your Estate Plan Meet Your Needs?

If you’ve started creating an estate plan, then you probably know there’s more than one way to address all your concerns.

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

An estate planning attorney helps and guides you in choosing the correct options for maintaining your estate after death or in case of incapacity. An experienced attorney seeks to fully understand your desires and goals regarding the maintenance of your estate and other property and suggests ways to achieve those wishes.

When to Consider an Institutional Trustee

When it comes to selecting a successor trustee, the common choice is a spouse, a family member, or a close friend. And for most trusts, this is the most rational choice – you’re looking for someone who is close to you, who knows your beneficiaries, and is loyal, trustworthy, and capable of managing your trust assets.

Why You Need a Will Even if You Have a Living Trust

The primary reason most people opt to base their estate plan on a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate when they pass away. The primary reason most people opt to base their estate plan on a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate when they pass away. A fully-funded Living Trust allows your assets to be distributed to your loved ones without the time, expense, or loss of privacy involved in a probate proceeding.

Avoiding Living Probate with a Revocable Living Trust

The reason for having an incapacity plan is so that you and your family can avoid the unpleasant process known as Living Probate.

Will Your Estate Plan Work

How do you know if your estate plan is effective, especially if your documents were not drawn up by a qualified estate planning attorney?

What Does it Mean to “Administer” a Trust

After a trust maker dies, the person who has been appointed trustee has the job of administering the trust.

Avoiding Probate – Does it Matter to You?

Nearly two hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” In current times, probate is often the step that occurs between a person’s death and the payment of their remaining taxes. Probate is the legal process supervised by the court system which insures that a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed and all remaining bills are paid.

The Dangers of Dying Intestate

Many people think that wills are only for the rich. I do not have a lot of property, why should I worry about having a will. Some people just do not like to think about dying and drafting a will seems morbid. If you do not execute a will before you die, you die intestate. Dying intestate means that what property you have will be divided among your remaining relatives by the laws of intestate succession.

How Special Needs Planning Protects Your Loved Ones

With professional special needs planning, you can rest assured that money set aside for a loved one’s care will be protected, as well as not hinder their ability to receive other kinds of assistance.

New Year Ushers in Revised Estate Tax

The estate tax was repealed in 2010 due to a provision that was contained in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. This was a welcome respite from what many derisively refer to as the “death tax,” but it was scheduled to return in 2011. When the tax was last in effect in 2009, the exclusion was $3.5 million, and the top rate of the tax was 45%.

2010 Long Term Care Study Raises Concerns

Estate planning is part of the broader field of elder law, which invariably includes retirement and incapacity planning. All of these things are connected, and to put it bluntly, you can't pass along what you don't have. So the expenses that you incur during the years that precede your death are going to impact your estate quite profoundly unless your wealth is truly extraordinary.

Was the Estate Tax Relief Sufficient?

As the 2010 calendar year started to wind down, talks in Congress intensified about the possibility of extending the Bush era tax cuts. Included in the discussions was the possibility of altering the parameters of the estate tax.

Who Can Witness Your Will?

When you draft a last will and testament, it must be witnessed in order to be considered valid by the courts.

Estate Tax Looms Large; Gifts Can Help

One of the first things that you need to determine when you are planning your estate is whether or not it is exposed to the estate tax.

Why Would I Need a Trust?

A trust is a valuable estate planning tool, but many don’t realize how their estate can benefit by creating a trust.

What Is the Generation Skipping Tax?

Many of the estate tax laws address property that is passed from one generation to the next, such as from a parent to a child.

What are Residuary Clauses?

One of the cornerstones of estate planning is creating a will, but a ‘do it yourself’ will kit may leave out a necessary provision within a will – the Residuary Clause.

Estate Planning Avoidance

Certainly estate planning is not a pleasant subject. No one likes to consider what life will be like for their family when they die. We discuss some of the most frequently heard excuses in putting off estate planning.

Four Things that Do Not Belong in a Will

Creating a will is the cornerstone of estate planning – a will names a guardian for your minor children, names an executor for your estate and allows you to distribute your property. While wills are certainly critical, they are not the place for all of your estate planning directives.

Trusts Estates 2

If you have started the process of estate planning, you realize that a living trust can benefit many estate plans.

Special Needs Children

Leaving money to a special needs child through an outright inheritance can disqualify them for government benefits that they may need for their care. In fact, an inheritance of as little as $2,000 could have serious consequences for them and cause them an interruption in any public benefits they may be receiving.

Inheritance Planning and Long Term Support

The first priorities when you are engaged in the process of estate planning are usually going to involve inventorying and positioning your assets, but it is important to remember the recipients as well. The inheritances that you will be leaving behind to your loved ones are going to be going to specific individuals who have unique personalities and proclivities.

Reducing Estate Tax Liability

One of your top priorities when you are planning your estate is going to be to determine whether or not your heirs will be exposed to the estate tax

Probate: Public, Expensive and Time Consuming

Traditionally people tend to think about estate planning as the practice of drawing up a last will. They assume that alternate vehicles of asset transfer, such as trusts, are only something that the wealthy should consider. This is really not the case because there are a number of pitfalls involved in using a will as your vehicle of transfer, and they stem from the fact that your estate must pass through the process of probate when you use a will.

Have You Executed Your Advanced Directives?

Estate planning is typically thought of as a purely financial endeavor, and it is true that preparation of assets for eventual distribution to your loved ones after your passing is central to the exercise.


Find a Local Lawyer