Estate Planning Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide
discussing legal aspects related to Estate Planning.
When this year comes to a close we are going to be looking at an entirely different lay of the land when it comes to the estate tax parameters. With this in mind we would like to examine the subject of estate tax exclusion portability. What does portability mean in this context?
The federal estate tax is applicable to everyone as an individual, so each person is afforded an individual exemption. The current amount of the estate tax exclusion is $5.12 million. So, a husband and wife would each have $5.12 million for a total of $10.24 million that could be passed along to their heirs before the estate tax becomes applicable.
There are a few ways to create a Last Will, one of which is a holographic Will. This sounds rather high-tech, but in fact the reverse is true. A holographic Will is simply a Will that is written entirely in the handwriting of the person creating the will and signed by them, as well. The popular painter Thomas Kinkade died recently at the age of 54 due to acute intoxication. He was living with his girlfriend Amy Pinto-Walsh at the time.
When you record your final wishes you are merely asserting your decisions in private. If you are keeping things confidential nobody will know the details until after you pass away so you will not be privy to any reactions. But when these details do in fact emerge interested parties are going to have opinions, and they may not always be positive.Clearly,this is going to be true if you disinherit someone who felt as though he or she was in line for a bequest.
By Jaburg Wilk
What is the best approach for your estate plan and tax savings strategies in 2012? There are plenty of planning opportunities in 2012, regardless of actions that may be taken by Congress. With the uncertainty in the Estate Tax and Gift Tax Laws, coupled with an election cycle, many people are faced with the decision of what approach is best for both their estate plan and tax savings strategies in 2012.
Spouses & children who are disinherited often commence applications for dependant’s relief under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act. Even if a party qualifies as a dependant, it is important to ensure that there are sufficient assets in the estate to fund support. To that end, section 72 of the Succession Law Reform Act includes assets which ordinarily are excluded in order to fund that support. One such asset is a “gift mortis causa”.
To someone looking in on probate law from the outside, it often appears as if probate lawyers and judges use very strange terminology. Some of the terminology is so odd it can appear as if probate law is written in an entirely different language. Let's take a look at some of the stranger terms you may encounter during the probate and estate planning process.
The recent British Colombia Supreme Court case of Borkenhagen v. Kessler (FN 1). It is a worthwhile read for those interested in area of estates and trusts because it reviews the basic tenets of resulting and constructive trusts. “I don’t care who paid for the property – it’s in my name.” But that’s the middle of the story – let’s start at the beginning.
As we get older, our bodies tend to develop specific types of medical conditions that are much more common in the elderly than they are in younger people. Even though half of all arthritis sufferers are under the age of 65,about one out of every five adults will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives.
There are some changes to the estate tax parameters pending at the end of this year when the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 expires. Some of them are rather high profile like the increase in the rate to 55% and the decrease in the exclusion to just $1 million.
The sandwich generation is a relatively new term that applies to anyone who is at risk of being “sandwiched” between aging parents and young adult children. When both need your financial assistance, you can quickly find yourself in a both a financial and emotional crisis of your own.
As you live in your home over the years, you can become attached because so many memories seem to be ingrained into the very structure itself. You also may feel totally comfortable and have everything arranged according to your tastes. That idea resonates with people of all ages.
People who get divorced are not remarrying with the same frequency that they did some years ago according to current census statistics. This of course does not mean that they are not entering into relationships with the same level of frequency.
Recent studies have shown that Americans age 55 and older are having an increasingly difficult time paying their debts. One study, performed by the Washington-based Employee Benefits Research Institute, showed that between 1992 and 2007, households of those who were in their mid-50s or older more than doubled their average debt load to about $70,000 each.
The estate tax exclusion is the amount of financial assets that you can pass on to your heirs before the federal estate tax is applied. At the present time this amount is $5.12 million. This $5.12 million exclusion is afforded to every taxpayer as an individual. So, if you are married you and your spouse each have $5.12 million to work with before the estate tax kicks in.
The death of a spouse ranks at the top of a list of stressful lifetime events. If you survive your spouse, you’ll need to make sure you take good care of yourself. Most likely, for the first few weeks, you may be in a constant state of confusion, running on autopilot. Here are some tips to help you during the initial aftermath of your spouse’s death.
There are some things in life that we all wish we had done differently. No one makes the right choices 100 percent of the time. Of course, we cannot hop in the Delorean and tell our younger selves to make different choices, at least not yet.
In preparing to make important life decisions the first thing to do is to research your options. You cannot make good decisions until you know what is possible you and how effective the different choices are. This is true in estate planning, as there many different legal instruments that can be used in estate planning.
The idea of being uprooted and moving into an assisted living community is not an especially pleasant one for many senior citizens. People become attached to their homes and this can be particularly true of elders who may have stored so many memories within these friendly confines.
When deciding whether to remove executors, Ontario courts focus on the best interests of the beneficiaries & the future administration of the estate. For judges, removing executors is about protecting beneficiaries & not about punishing someone for past misdeeds. In our experience, when families argue over which beneficiary should be executor the court’s default position is to appoint a neutral estate trustee.
If there is one area of modern life that seniors are often not so comfortable with, it is new technology. However, there are a range of new gadgets that have come onto the market recently that can help both seniors and their families, especially when the senior lives alone or does not have regular assistance. Here’s a brief list of some of the newer options that technology has wrought.
Estate planners often talk about creating the plan that meets the specific needs of the individuals they are advising. They ask what you want and give you choices about how to get what you want. However, let's step back and look at the bigger picture. Estate planning is not only about you. It's also about your family and other loved ones.
Recent Census Bureau statistics are indicating that people who have been divorced are not remarrying with the same frequency that they did in the past. There are a number of different reasons for this and financial considerations would certainly be among them.
The billionaire owners of the Philadelphia Eagles have announced their decision to file for divorce in PA after 20 years of marriage. The owners of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, have announced their decision to divorce, ending their marriage of 20 years.
When you pass away, you will probably leave more things behind than you realize. That’s why you need an estate plan that covers everything, even those things that you forget. However, there is one thing that an estate plan cannot cover unless you make specific plans for it: your pets. What will happen to your pets if you pass away before they do?
Do you ever wonder if vampires have estate plans? Of course, vampires are not real, but they seem to be everywhere in popular culture today. Turn on the TV, and you can find a vampire show at anytime, or a vampire movie. When I see these shows I think about their estate plans.
Planning for a medical emergency is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. After all, life is unpredictable and even healthy people can suddenly become ill. Add to that the possibility of an accident or unexpected disability and you see how you could suddenly find yourself incapacitated, unable to make decisions about your life and your property.
One of the reasons why some people choose alternatives to a last will when they are arranging for the eventual transfer of assets to their heirs is because they want to avoid probate. What is probate you ask? Probate is a legal process that takes place under the supervision of the probate court.
As an estate executor, you have the legal power to manage a deceased person's property and redistribute that property to new owners. With this power, state probate laws impose specific responsibilities as well as limitations. If you violate these state restrictions you may face personal liability as an executor.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Everything on the Internet is true.” If you've ever looked for legal advice online, it won't take you very long to discover a wide range of advice, opinion, commentary, and information about estate planning topics. Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing if any of it is correct.
If you're single, whether or not you're young, you are part of the group that is the least likely to have an estate plan. The fact is most single people rarely consider estate planning concerns and few have taken any steps to developing important planning elements. Unfortunately, single people often need these specific state planning elements much more than their married contemporaries. Here are three reasons why you should begin estate planning as soon as possible if you are single.
When you are planning for your retirement years you have to make projections a couple of decades into the future, maybe even longer. The fact is that crystal balls are pretty hard to come by these days, and try as we might it is very difficult to predict the future with full accuracy.
Sometimes, when you have difficulty making a decision, it’s helpful to write out a list of the pros and cons of the decision. There are people who swear by this method and use it all the time. Do you know what the list would look like if your question is "Should I wait to get an estate plan?"
Arthritis can strike at any time, though it most typically affects people over the age of 60. There are many forms of arthritis, and while there aren't cures for this condition, there are effective treatments that are best begun at the early stages of the disease. If you notice any of these common arthritis warning signs or symptoms, you should make an appointment to meet with your doctor so you can be evaluated for possible arthritis.
Over the years there has been a lot of chatter about avoiding probate because it’s this horrible expensive “monster.” It’s not. Look at the people or the source that is claiming its horrible - its services and people who are trying to convince you to pay for a trust now and avoid probate. Trusts can cost thousands of dollars and that will cost you the money now and it does not avoid probate.
If there are several children, who will be the administrator? That is a tough question to answer, however, when families are cooperative with each other, then it should be one who is closest to the estate or assets. Simply for the reason that it’s easier for that child to protect and manage the asset such as a house if they live nearby rather than another state.
Careful estate planning is the best way to maximize your inheritance for your children and your future income. Speak with an attorney today and start preparing a plan. Draft a Will and, perhaps a trust, and all the related documents needed to protect against government seizure, expensive future litigation and probate issues.
You love your family and you would not want to accidentally disinherit them, right? So, you need to plan otherwise, unintended results can happen, especially if your estate is fairly large and complicated.
What You and Loved Ones Need to Know about Power of Attorney, Living Will Documents and Guardianships…Plan Ahead
Guardianships can be avoided through the use of living wills and powers of attorney documents. Living Wills and powers of attorney can provide for that person and their family when the person is temporarily or permanently unable to handle his or her own affairs due to an illness or injury.
Many of us have lived through generation X, the “me” generation, and generation “Y”, but have you ever heard of the “sandwich” generation? Unbeknownst to you, you may be one of the millions who will make up the sandwich generation.
Court Battles Deplete Estate assets leaving families to fight and receive less to nothing…..
The appellate division recently overturned a Nassau County case.
Minimizing Stress in Your Golden Years
If your parents or a loved one have suffered an injury or have an illness that makes it difficult or impossible for them to address their own needs, you may need to secure in-home care services. At the same time, you will want to take all appropriate legal measures to protect your loved ones and to give you the authority and flexibility necessary to quickly and effectively handle legal, medical, financial and other issues.
The “me” generation is rapidly becoming the “sandwich” generation. If the term is foreign to you, don’t feel left out. It is simply a new term that is being used to describe people born in the 50’s and 60’s who are suddenly feeling as though they are being “sandwiched” between the needs of aging parents and young adult children.
If the term “sandwich generation” doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. This is term that is being used to describe people who are nearing middle age that are being “sandwiched” between the needs of grown children and aging parents.
If you are like many people who have been fortunate enough, and worked hard enough, to have built up a sizeable and valuable estate, you may wish to provide a certain degree of financial stability to future generations. At the same time, you may be concerned that simply handing over your estate upon your death will create a spoiled child or grandchild.
The document known as the Last Will is what may come to mind when you think about estate planning without really looking into the subject very deeply. Of course you can indeed use a Last Will to direct the transfer of assets to your heirs, but is this the right choice for you?
If you were to be among the many who are going to require living assistance when you reach an advanced age you have some decisions to make. A lot of people will decide to reside in an assisted living community. Depending on your physical condition, your financial capabilities, and your personal preferences this may indeed be the best choice for you.
If you were to ask yourself how you would want your possessions distributed if you were to pass away at any given time you may well find that you would not want everything to go to your legal next of kin. This is going to be especially true if you are in a committed relationship.
Many estate plans contain mistakes that can and should be avoided. Unfortunately, easily avoidable mistakes are made all the time in estate planning. Here are three mistakes you can make, and easily avoid, in your estate plan.
If you are like many Americans, you are concerned about the future of the Social Security retirement program. Warnings about the fate of the program make headlines on a regular basis. The program is clearly in trouble, but how much trouble? Can you expect to receive benefits when you reach retirement age?
If you have a family or loved ones who mean a lot to you, then you owe it to them to plan ahead in the event of your untimely death. Tragedy or illness can strike at any time. If it strikes you, what will happen to your family and/or loved ones? The answer to that question depends, in large part, to whether or not you took the time to plan ahead.
As much as we all wish that we would never be faced with the death of a close family member, it may happen at some point in time. In the midst of your emotional grief, you may be the person who also has to deal with the practical aspects of the death as well. Someone has to step forward and take control. If that person is you, then knowing some of the common things that may need to be done may help you get through the process.
Although you may not be familiar with the name Larry Hillblom, you have probably used the company he founded or at least heard of it. Hillblom was one of the founding partners of the international shipping company DHL. In fact, the “H” stands for Hillblom. Hillblom is also famous for the multi-national legal battle over his estate that followed his death.
You may think that the simplest solution for stating your final wishes is the execution of a last will. In fact, depending on the circumstances your desire for simplicity may not be best served by the utilization of a last will as a vehicle of asset transfer.
There are things that can be done to protect your assets during the latter stages of your life from a legal perspective, and you should discuss your options with a good Oklahoma City elder law attorney. At the same time, each individual must take personal responsibility to protect your assets and yourself. Awareness is key, and one growing problem that seniors must protect themselves against is elder financial abuse.
One of the things that people look forward to when they envision retirement is the ability to live stress-free. Try as you might, it can be very challenging to keep stress at bay when you are fully engaged in your working years. Putting the tension behind you while you kick back and live simply as a retired individual can certainly be a pleasing prospect.
Thinking about an inheritance you might receive is an exercise that's filled with competing emotions. While you never want to think ill of your parents or grandparents, knowing that you stand to inherit significant money or property can make life much easier, especially if money is tight
For elderly Americans, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated because many people do not recognize the symptoms. Elderly people are prone to develop depression for a variety of reasons. Anything from chronic back pain to the loss of independence caused by medical conditions can lead to depression or make depression more serious.
With many baby boomers reaching retirement age every day, proper financial planning is becoming increasingly more important. But for many boomers, proper financial planning may involve being able to cover the expenses of an elderly parent. Though many people do not realize it, about 30 states have filial responsibility laws. These laws require the adult children of indigent elderly parents to pay for their care if the parents cannot.
If you started creating your Last Will and Testament, you may come across some words that appear strange or unfamiliar. This is very common, as the laws surrounding wills use specific terms that most people don't often come across. Let's take a look at some of the words commonly encountered when creating a will.
In case the name doesn‘t ring any bells offhand, Stieg Larsson is the author of the awarding winning novel turned movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Larsson was a Swedish journalistic all his life who turned novelist literally months prior to his death. Ultimately, his estate was valued at upwards of $50 million and climbing; however, his lifelong partner didn’t receive a dime as a result of Larsson’s lack of an estate plan.
Most of us have heard all the dire warnings about the future of the Social Security retirement program. Some analysts tell us that the program will cease to exist within just a few short years. Others tell us that beneficiaries are certain to see reductions in benefit checks while still others tell us not to worry--a solution is just around the corner.
Who Watches the Watchmen?" has become a modern classic line. In case you don't know, The Watchmen are a fictional group of superheroes. In their story, they originally protected people, but then things broke down and people asked the famous line. It stands for the idea that no one should have complete and total power. It corrupts and thus, power needs to be watched.
You have undoubtedly heard the old axiom "Life's not fair." We all know that it's true. We would like to believe that on some level, things even out and that as society progresses, things will get fairer. Maybe it will someday. But, that day is not today as most LGBT couples know all too well.
There are individuals who are naturally more exposed to potential legal actions than others, and for these people asset protection should be a priority. You have to act in advance to preserve your assets because your hands are tied once a suit is initiated.
Many of us remain unmarried by choice or by necessity. Maybe you are paired up but cannot legally marry because of laws prohibiting same-sex marriages, or maybe you’re on your way to marriage. You may also be choosing to live with another person instead of choosing marriage for personal reasons. Whatever the reason may be, you should carefully consider your future property rights together as unmarried cohabitants.
An article in Forbes recently highlighted some of the important financial issues that those who have been diagnosed with a serious or life-threatening condition should consider. Though financial questions may be the last thing you want to think of if you are facing this situation, ignoring these issues won't make them go away. If you face them now, your family and loved ones may have an easier time of it later on.
Relationships generally are going to unfold step-by-step, and when you have already been married before you may be in no hurry to actually tie the knot in a legally binding manner. In fact, census statistics are indicating that people are not remarrying as much as they used to, but this does not necessarily mean that they are not getting involved in committed relationships.
Retirement planning attorneys are going to tell you that it is important to accumulate financial resources in anticipation of being able to put your working years behind you someday. This is however just one thing piece to the puzzle.
A recent article in Forbes points out that the terminally ill face several financial and estate planning questions that, though not often spoken about, are very important. If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it’s important to speak to an estate planning attorney as soon as possible so you can begin addressing key concerns that will not only affect you, but also your family.
Of all the issues that arise after someone dies, it's often the financial ones that pose the most difficulties. If a spouse or family member passes, you may be unprepared to deal with the specific details of handling the decedent's financial affairs, including any debts left behind. It’s important to understand that family relatives are only rarely responsible for paying the decedent's debts. Here’s what you need to know.
For many senior citizens, the cost of medical care and services is a big concern. Often, healthcare plans that were in effect while working are no longer available or are financially out of reach. Many elderly Americans turn to the Medicaid program for assistance. Qualifying for the program can be difficult for an individual who has even minimum assets.
Most people have heard of the concept behind a Will contest, yet most have never been involved in one. A Last Will and Testament cannot be challenged simply because a potential beneficiary is not happy with what he or she received under the terms of the Will.
President Obama issued another round of proposed financial budget measures that would affect the 2013 fiscal year. On February 13, 2013, the President’s cabinet presented his plan to Congress. Focusing on permanently rebuilding a national economy, the President’s 2013 Budget Bill seeks to slash government spending and increase the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans.
Some people have no shame, and this is evident when you look into the statistics regarding elder financial abuse. This has become a big problem in the United States today and it is an issue that is a source of concern within the elder law community.
Statistics indicate that the majority of people who reach the age of eligibility rely on their Social Security benefits to provide most of their income. This can be either grossly inadequate or perfectly acceptable depending on two factors: The exact amount of your benefit and the financial responsibilities that you have when you enter into retirement.
When you are planning an estate there is a common belief that an attorney is the only professional that you you will interact during the entire process. While the estate planning lawyer is undoubtedly the most important professional that you will interact with during the process of coming up with a plan there may be other experts that can help guide you to the path that you need to be on.
Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys are always reminding their clients to stay in touch because the initial estate plan is like a snapshot whereas estate planning as a whole is an ongoing motion picture of sorts. As things change, the estate plan that you previously constructed may need to be updated – something to keep in mind every step of the way.
You have to think things all the way through in order to find the motivation that you need to stop procrastinating and finally start making preparations for the future. If you asked a random sampling of individuals about the things that are most important to them, “family” would probably be at the top of the list for the majority of the respondents.
When you evaluate the basic anatomy of a revocable living trust you see that there are three principal players. We would like to break it down in a very rudimentary manner for you here.
When you think about a Last Will, the act of stating your wishes in writing is probably the thing that comes to mind. However, there is more to it than simply letting everyone know how you would like your resources to be distributed after your passing.
Keeping your fingers crossed while hoping for the best is no substitute for intelligent planning when you are considering the eventualities of aging. As the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, studies show that a high percentage of them are unprepared.
A good portion of parents with children eventually want to pass on the property they own to their children. Some might think that it is a good idea to put their real estate, home, property, or land in the name of their children while they are still alive. This type of estate plan can be easy to set up and can most likely be done without a lawyer, but it is full of dangers and risks that can pop up and bite you if you are not careful.
Who Should Be the Personal Representative or Executor if You Have No Family or Friends You Can Trust
When you make a will one of the most important and difficult decisions you will make is who to name as personal representative or executor. This is the person who is in charge of your estate when you die and will have to tie up loose ends, pay debts, and distribute everything according to your will.
Planning for your funeral is an important aspect of having a complete estate plan. One of the goals for any estate plan should be to make everything as easy as possible for your loved ones once you pass on. During the period immediately following your death can be a difficult time for those you leave behind.
The generation that grew up in the postwar economic boom is bringing with it new expectations as it enters retirement at a rate of 10,000 people per day. Just as they drove change in American society as they took leadership roles in business, academia, technology and government. Baby boomers are changing the way retirement communities and senior living centers serve the needs of elderly Americans.
If you have heard claims such as “protect your estate assets and still qualify for Medicaid” and wondered about the legality of the claims, you are smart to do so. Although it is possible to legally protect many of your assets and still qualify for the Medicaid program, it must be done carefully, and with the help of an experienced elder law attorney, in order to prevent Medicaid fraud.
Many people never think about making an estate plan. Let’s take a moment and consider this: if you are going to make an estate plan what are the steps that you would take to make the best possible plan?
There are some people who will go to any lengths to line their own pockets, and they will even stoop so low as to target senior citizens. Indeed, elder financial abuse is all too common these days and expert observers are finding that the problem is on the rise.
It is a rude awakening when you start to reach middle-age and find that you are not prepared for retirement. One of the reasons why far too many people find themselves in a bad position is because they expect too much from Social Security and Medicare.
You have likely been told how important estate planning is by numerous people. If you are like many people though, a real life example hits home much more effectively than general advice. The Larry Hillblom story is one of many famous examples of why estate planning should be done early one and revised on a regular basis.
Do you have a legal plan in place in case you should become mentally disabled or in the event of your death? If not, your family may face a long and stressful time in court. When you don’t have an estate plan to deal with end-of-life issues such as the distribution of your property and guardianship for your children, state law takes over and decides the fate of your estate.
While most of us are aware of the risks of not having an estate plan the truth is, having an inadequate plan can be just as risky. Your estate plan should do more than just distribute your assets – it should protect them as well. A good plan can also protect your loved ones from things like probate and excessive taxes and legal fees.
Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Accounts may be an option to avoid probate and allow your beneficiary immediate access to your accounts. Payable on Death Accounts are useful for bank accounts. They allow you to name a specific beneficiary so your loved one may have immediate access to your accounts upon your death.
With state budgets increasingly tight and Medicaid set to expand drastically in 2014, many lawmakers are looking for ways to decrease the impact Medicaid has on state budgets. One of the possible avenues some lawmakers are considering is further decreasing the extent to which Medicaid fraud impacts the joint federal and state program.
A month ago my computer crashed. It was devastating. Every time I tried to start the thing, I got nowhere. I looked online for answers and followed a lot of advice, but nothing seemed to work. I thought that I had lost all of my files. That meant the loss of not only important work-related documents, but also important family pictures. It was devastating.
Imagine being a young adult who is transitioning into a new phase of life. You have your first child on the way, and you are envisioning all of the things that you have to take care of as the big day approaches. You will invariably start to buy baby clothes and other necessities while you fix up a room for your firstborn child. The anticipation is indescribable as you face the realities of parenthood.
While retirement accounts do provide healthy tax incentives to save money during one’s lifetime, most people don’t consider what will happen to the accounts at death. The reality is, these accounts can be subject to both estate and income taxes at death. However, choosing a beneficiary carefully can minimize—or even eliminate—taxation of retirement accounts at death. This article discusses several issues to consider when choosing plan beneficiaries.