Estate Planning Law Articles
Articles written by lawyers and expert witnesses worldwide
explaining the different aspects of Estate Planning.
Many people are confused by the term "probate" and what it means. That is ok. It's complicated. Ask a group of estate planning lawyers what "probate" is and you will probably get a different answer on what the term "probate" means to each of them. To me, it is a broad term which means the process of administering a Will through the legal system after a person's death.
It may be safe to say that most people realize the need for an estate plan. It is also safe to say that the majority of people put off creating one until long after one should have been created. Although each person’s needs are unique to the individual, the general rule when it comes to estate planning is the early the better.
One thing to consider when contemplating the contingencies of reaching an advanced age, is the possibility of being unable to handle your day-to-day needs on your own. The likelihood of a stay in a nursing home or assisted living community may be the first thing that comes to mind. These options exist, but there are some pitfalls that go along with these types of facilities.
You might have heard that you can give some of your money to your heirs before you pass away without any tax consequences. While this is sometimes the case, if you do not speak to an estate planning attorney before you give your money away, you might be making a big mistake. A well-intentioned, but improperly given, gift can cause more problems and greater financial burdens than anyone wants deal with.
An important goal of many estate plans is to make sure that your heirs can quickly and easily get their inheritance and wrap up your affairs. In today's computer-based society, making sure that your heirs have access to your online accounts is an important, but often overlooked, part of this process. Your estate plan should include some way for someone to access your online accounts.
Once you've begun the estate planning process and start looking towards practical concerns such as funeral planning, you may want to consider some new options that are currently available. No longer are people only limited to a choice between a burial and cremation. Today there are several alternatives you can consider when trying to decide what you wish to do with your earthly remains.
How to prevent foreign inheritance laws from affecting your summer villa. Owning holiday homes abroad has become increasingly common amongst English people. The idea of purchasing a second property in places like Tuscany, the French Riviera or Spain is undeniably appealing, and also represents in many cases a good investment.
First, don't panic. It is often common to find a mistake or error in your estate plan, especially when you've created your plan yourself or used a website or self-help product. Second, the kind of changes you can make will depend upon the kind of mistake that was made and what you want to change. Let’s look at some common scenarios.
As more and more Americans reach retirement age every day, many often find that their new lives can lead to some regrets. If you have yet to reach retirement age and are creating your estate plan there are several issues associated with retirement you may want to consider as you make your planning choices.
If you have had children with multiple spouses during your lifetime, your estate planning can get complicated. You will want to make sure that all of your children are provided for in your estate after you pass away. A simple Will from a legal document service is not a good option. Instead, you should speak to an estate planning attorney about how to divide your estate.
By Tila Legal
Will and testaments give you a chance to divide your property according to your own free wish without any ones interference from some external body; on the other hand if you die without a will, your property, land and other physical assets are divided by the government based on pre-decided rules and regulations.
Everyone should have an attorney draft a general durable power of attorney for them as part of their estate plan. If you do not have one, your loved ones may have to scramble to make sure that your interests are protected if you are incapacitated. This can cause needless delays and frustrations for you and your loved ones.
Planning for what will happen to your assets and property after you pass away is one of the most complicated and confusing legal decisions that most people ever have to make. The number of different estate plan options and documents can be overwhelming. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning can alleviate problems that you have in understanding all of the different options.
In 2011, there was a poll conducted by the Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com. The purpose of the probe was to get an idea about how prepared baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are for retirement. The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age and massive numbers of people are involved.
It would be logical to consider giving gifts to people that you would otherwise be leaving inheritances to while you are still alive in an effort to gain estate tax efficiency. However, the powers that be are well aware of this logic as well. Therefore, there is a gift tax in place that is unified with the estate tax.
Like a muscle, a good estate plan is one you regularly use and maintain. It's especially important to change or update a plan if you go through major life event, such as a divorce, the birth of a grandchild, or a substantial increase or decrease in wealth.
The typical layperson is usually going to equate estate planning with drawing up a last Will and in fact there are entities out there that will sell you a blank last Will document. They tell you that you just have to fill in the blanks and everything will be set in the event of your death.
Do I Need a Will – The short answer to that question is yes; everyone should have a will. Although all states have laws that dictate who the people are that are your beneficiaries if you don’t have a will, having one will let you, and not the court, determine who will inherit your assets.
There was a 60 Minutes segment that aired in '09 that was entitled "The Cost Of Dying," and this report was very relevant to anyone who is wondering why estate planning lawyers recommend advance health care directives like living wills and durable medical powers of attorney.
The Successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust is the lifeline between the affairs of a decedent’s estate and the beneficiaries. If beneficiaries have no idea what is happening with the estate settlement process, they may feel like they have no control and may begin to protest the actions of the Trustee. As Trustee, you must always keep the lines of communication open.
If you have a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust or an Irrevocable Trust, you have the option to include a No Contest Clause in your document. So what is a “No Contest” clause? It is a statement that says any beneficiary who challenges your estate document will be completely disinherited.
Federal estate taxes are taxes that will be owed upon your estate after you pass away. Your estate will owe taxes if your assets are worth more than a certain amount. The maximum estate tax rate is quite high, so finding ways to decrease your taxable estate is vital.
During this time of economic woes, more people are turning to their retirement accounts for extra funds. So, is this a safe option to help you get through a job loss or financial crisis? Before you withdraw your funds early you should consider the costs you may incur, if your situation may avoid some of those costs, and if there is an alternative to provide you with the same financial relief.
When you start a business, you should not only consider how your business will thrive; you should also think about what will happen to it when you are no longer available to run daily activities. You may have an unspoken plan to hand the business down to your children, but you must evaluate whether this will really work.
Trusts, both revocable and irrevocable, offer a variety of options that allow you to tailor your estate plan to your specific needs and desires. If you have an estate that extends beyond a basic Last Will and Testament, you should understand the differences between these two types of Trusts.
A fiduciary is someone who monitors assets for you, with your best interests in mind. This may be a financial institution, a property management company or a trustee. Fiduciaries are not only an important part of life; they are also essential during your disability and after your death. During the estate planning process, you must take care when choosing your attorney-in-fact, health care agent, successor trustee, or estate executor.
Since you do not know what age your children will be when you pass away, it is best to plan their inheritance as if they have not reached adulthood at that time. You can always update your plan after your children are grown. There are several ways to leave an inheritance for your minor children.
The standard image of a family as a mother and father with two children is becoming less frequent. In the current age, families include a variety of situations divorces, single parents, unmarried couples living together, same-sex parents, second marriages and beyond. So how do you ensure that your blended family receives the inheritance you wish to leave upon your death? A valid Last Will and Testament is one way to safeguard your final wishes.
Your pets are an important part of your family, so it is vital that you include them in your estate plan. Like naming a guardian for your children you can name a guardian for your pets. You should do so to avoid family disagreements if more than one person should want to care for your furry loved ones. A worst case scenario is if no family member is willing to step forward and take your pet into their home.
For many, the idea of creating an estate plan is something they’ll do “later.” As in when they’re older, when they have more “stuff” or whenever they have some time to actually sit down and do it. But putting off creating your estate plan isn’t a good idea, and I’ll tell you why.
The decision to seek long term care for a loved one is a difficult one to make. Perhaps you are afraid of hurting your family member’s feelings by suggesting they are no longer capable. Or maybe your family member isn’t ready to admit the need for help. Despite the difficulty of broaching this touchy subject, you must do so for the health and safety of your loved one. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone.
Most people like to believe that they will be able to retire years before they reach full retirement age. Although this is a nice thought, it’s not very realistic unless you commit to solid planning early on. One of the first things you should decide is at what age you would like to retire. The second thing you’ll need to know is how much financial security you expect to have.
If, like Sabina and me, you have a loved one who is disabled, then you know how important government assistance programs can be to their well-being. But to qualify for these programs, your dependent must have limited finances. So, any inheritance you leave him or her could potentially put their eligibility for government assistance at risk.
Because so many families have children from more than one marriage, estate planning for blended families has become a common challenge in the estate planning world. How, for example, do you ensure that your children from a previous marriage will benefit from your assets if you die first?
Estate planning is a complicated and on-going process. It can seem tiring because you need to frequently update your plan based on changes in your personal circumstances, as well as changes in the tax laws. Although there is no way out of the frequent reviewing of your estate plan, you can simplify the entire process by following a few do’s and don’ts.
Choosing an executor for your will or estate is necessary to make sure your wishes are carried out after your death. Not only should your executor be responsible, but they should also know how you think. Sometimes, we overlook certain parts of our estate, either because they seem insignificant to us or because they simply slipped our mind. Should this happen, your executor will be expected to provide a resolution.
Most people look forward to coming up with an estate plan about as much as they look forward to going in for a root canal. However, with the right help, having an effective estate plan in place does not have to be difficult, and it’s a necessary part of taking care of your family. Here are a few simple errors to avoid:
If you’re familiar with living trusts, then you know that one of the big benefits of a trust is the ability to avoid probate. This is possible because the trust holds title to your property and assets, with you in control as the Trustee. When you pass on, your Successor Trustee steps in and maintains control over the trust and the assets it holds but the title to those assets never actually changes hands.
Funding your living trust is an important part of estate planning, especially if your goal is to avoid probate. Here are some tips for how and with what to fund your living trust. A living trust offers a variety of benefits and is an essential component of any good estate plan. With it, you can minimize estate taxes, protect your property from creditors and lawsuits and even avoid the costly process of probate.
You can withdraw money from your IRA at any time, but there are sometimes penalties or income tax associated. The rules vary depending on whether you have a Roth or a traditional IRA and, as with a 401(k), the “magic” age is 59 ½.
Everyone gets older – that’s just a fact of life. And while we can’t avoid aging, we can take steps to ensure that our loved ones are properly cared for when they become elderly and can no longer take care of themselves. It’s a sad fact that abuse of the elderly in nursing homes and medical facilities is an ongoing concern. Not in every facility of course, but it does happen. And unfortunately, the victims frequently suffer in silence.
When it comes to financial matters we need several people we can trust to act in our best interest. These people include friends, relatives and professionals. In legal language, such people are called fiduciaries. A fiduciary can be a person or institution that you trust would act in your best interest when you need help. Fiduciaries can include attorneys, bankers, business advisers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents etc.
An advance medical directive can actually consist of two different legal documents, both designed to protect you medically in the event you can no longer speak on your own behalf. The first is commonly called a Healthcare Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy and it allows you to specify who will make decisions on your behalf in case of a medical emergency.
A Living Will is a legal document that alerts your healthcare providers to your wishes and preferences regarding medical treatments and life-support measures. Living Wills are used when a person becomes incapacitated by illness, accident or old age and is unable to speak on their own behalf.
If a relative or friend asks you to serve as the executor of their estate – or, more likely, you are choosing an executor for your estate – make sure you know what is involved. In some cases serving as an executor could be quite involved and time-consuming, especially if the estate contains a number of assets and the estate plan is relatively complicated.
Over the last few years Israel has become an attractive jurisdiction for tax planners, the following article will provide information on some of the tax benefits which new immigrants or returning residents can obtain.
After you die, your family will not be able to immediately receive your property until the probate process is completed. Depending on your estate and the nature of your case, this can take months and may even last several years if there are conflicts. If your family needs the property quickly, this lengthy process can cause a lot of stress.
As you embark on your estate planning journey, it's important to keep in mind that your career goals, estate planning desires and your dreams of retirement are all factors you need to carefully weigh.For many people who reached the retirement age and stop working, they often experience regrets that they are unable to correct.
If it's important for most people to have all of their estate planning documents in place before something catastrophic happens. It is even more important for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. This is because different states have different laws about GLBT life-partnerships. These laws can affect your end-of-life financial and medical directives as well as who will inherit your estate.
Estate planning typically requires a thorough understanding of the tax laws that will directly impact the choices you make for your plan. Unfortunately, in an election year, uncertainty surrounds the fate of many tax laws, making estate planning more difficult. That is not to say that you should be complacent this year -- on the contrary.
The Federal estate tax is considered to be unfair by many observers who are familiar with the details. One of their contentions is that the estate tax is an instance of double taxation.
In years past, family wealth was traditionally passed down from one generation to the next without question. It was rare for a family patriarch or matriarch to disinherit the children without a very good reason. Even the proverbial “black sheep” of the family typically received something when the time came. Passing on the family fortune was done out of tradition, family loyalty and pragmatism.
If you own a family business, you have likely spent your lifetime growing and nurturing the business. You have undoubtedly given considerable thought to the future of your business, including what will happen to it upon your death. If you are like most family business owners, your initial thought is that you wish to pass the business on to your family. But is this really a wise choice?
You are not required to utilize the same vehicle of asset transfer to facilitate the distribution of assets to each of your heirs. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you have someone on your inheritance list who you feel as though may need some guidance.
While the ability to decide who will receive your assets upon your death is certainly an important feature of estate planning, the ability to reduce, or even avoid, the tax consequences of transferring wealth and assets upon your death is an equally important facet of estate planning.
Last Spring, New York heiress Huguette Clark died just shy of her 105th birthday leaving behind what has become a “made for tabloids” battle of the Wills.
For many people in the later years of their lives, pets are their closest family and friends. Your children no longer live with you. Over the years friends have moved or passed away. However, your faithful pets are always therein your will, you leave assets to your other family members, and it only makes sense to make sure that your pets are also provided for by including a trust for them in your will.
As thousands of baby boomers reach retirement age every day, many of them are finding the idea of having a traditional funeral to be less than satisfying. Luckily, boomers—and everyone else—have a wider range of choices instead of the traditional coffin burial. Here is a brief list.
Should firms give a fixed fee for Probate work? If so how much should it be? A lot of solicitors still charge a percentage of the value of the estate plus an hourly rate of around £200 for Probate work. Banks charge an extraordinary 3% of the value of the estate.
After much debate the House of Representatives finally voted into law the new Cyprus International Trust Law. The bill that was enacted on the 9th of March 2012 aims to modernise the framework of international trusts and have positive impact on investment.
When a non UK resident dies owning assets in the UK it is often necessary to get Probate in the UK. This article summarises how to get it.
It is a good idea to work from a checklist when you are trying to make sure that you have all your bases covered when creating an estate plan.
The term probate, in Old English, means “to prove”. Probate can play a huge role in estate planning because a family will be exposed to probate when a family member dies, a family member becomes incompetent or a minor child inherits property. The legal process of probation involves administering the estate of a deceased person by establishing the validity of a will and carrying it out.
There are websites dotting the cyber landscape that want you to think that you can plan your own estate.
Unless you are in a very rarefied financial position you are going to have to plan ahead intelligently to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Just going through life day to day without any plan is probably going to leave you lacking as you start to get near the typical retirement age. Unfortunately, a lot of people find this out when it is too late to get on track.
As the owner of a Worcester family owned small business, you have likely devoted your lifetime to growing the business from the ground up. As a result, you certainly have a stake in the future of the business, including what will happen to it upon your death. You have probably considered passing down the business to your children, but is this a wise choice?
As a Leominster resident, you have probably given considerable thought and consideration to how you wish to structure your estate plan in order to transfer your estate assets to family members and loved ones upon your death.
Home ownership has long been the foundation of wealth building in the United States. If you are like most Americans, your home is your single most valuable possession. As a result, if you were to reduce the taxable value of your home you could go a long way toward mitigating your estate tax exposure.
San Jose estate planning attorneys invariably speak to many clients who feel as though the estate tax is fundamentally unfair. Their clients register multiple complaints, but the primary reason that they cite is the fact that the estate tax is an instance of double taxation.
We will start out by discussing the rules of eligibility for certain types of assistance programs. Next, we will discuss problems and pitfalls in planning for a Special Needs loved one. This will evolve into a discussion about what are believed to be the best options of planning for special loved ones - the Supplemental Needs Trust.
No matter what the financial status of an individual is estate planning can be an important aspect to safeguard assets. While Whitney Houston has made millions over her career, even she became susceptible to a lack of financial planning that can have an influence for years to come. Estate planning is an important thing to consider in today’s world.
Beginning the estate planning process usually requires you to set up a meeting with your estate planning lawyer so you can get down to the concrete steps involved. To make this meeting go easier, there are several items you can bring with you. Always talk to your lawyer or his or her personal assistant before you come to any meeting so you know what to expect and what you should bring.
Oral wills were traditionally used when a person was too sick or otherwise unable to write. Question 1: What is a nuncapative will? - Answer: A nuncapative will is simply a fancy way to say oral or verbal will. With an oral will, the testator—the person who makes the will—states his or her wishes verbally instead of writing them down.
When you sit down to evaluate your legacy, you may need to do some serious soul-searching. In the field of estate planning. you generally stick to the pragmatic financial realities, but when you are preparing to “meet your maker” as it were, a lot of things may enter your mind.
Over the course of your lifetime it is likely that you will have accumulated some considerable financial resources. Given the fact that it took you many decades to get to where you are arranging for the transfer of these assets after you pass away is not something that can be done by a layperson in the blink of an eye.
The high and rising costs associated with long-term care are something to take very seriously when you are making preparations for the latter portion of your life. If you combine the typical length of stay with the average cost of nursing home care you could be looking at an expense that exceeds a quarter of a million dollars. This is an amount that a lot of people would find difficult to pay without seeing a significant portion of their legacies going down the drain.
While everyone in Washington who is a competent adult can create his or her own last will, State law also allows some people to create an oral will in limited situations. These wills, known as nuncupative wills in the State statutes, can only be used in a very limited set of circumstances, and you should not rely on the oral will provisions to create your last will and testament.
In most states, to create a valid Will, you must sign your Will in front of two witnesses. Your witnesses must also sign your document in your presence. Typically, your witnesses should be impartial and have no monetary motivation for witnessing your Will. In many states, your local probate court will require the testimony of one or both of your witnesses when someone tries to probate your Will or admit it for filing.
No one wants their family members to fight in court over their assets after they pass away. Probate battles can be long, costly, and nasty. The damage to familial relationships is often never undone. The keys to avoiding a probate battle between your family members are proper estate planning and communication of your plans.
Estate planning often encompasses numerous different tools and strategies. While your Last Will and Testament may be the cornerstone of your estate plan, you will likely wish to use other tools as well such as a trust. Trusts can be beneficial for a number of reasons such as avoidance of probate or estate taxes or retaining some degree of control over the trust assets long after death.
Flipping a house is a practice that has been done by many. While it can be done effectively, providing those who take the time to do it fast and beneficial rewards, it can also be done illegally in some cases, crossing legal guidelines that are imposed by the government.
There are two basic reasons why estate planning is so important. First, estate planning allows you to decide what will happen to your assets upon your death. Second, by planning ahead, you can substantially decrease the tax consequences of transferring your estate assets to family members or loved ones. In the absence of planning, your estate assets may be subject to either estate or gift taxes, both of which can significantly drain estate assets.
You have choices when planning your estate. You are not required to utilize a last will to direct the distribution of your assets after your death. Instruments such as revocable living trusts are viable options and they are not exclusively for the wealthy.
These days you see various entities offering blank generic legal forms. They would like you to believe that anyone can plan his or her own estate. All you have to do is purchase one of these forms and fill in the blanks. You then have an ironclad estate plan in place and you have no need for any further action.
Military service is demanding on many different levels and it is not something that everyone is going to be suited for. Without question there are a lot of sacrifices that go along with serving your country but at the same time there are some rewards to be had, especially if you serve for a significant period of time.
After much debate, the Washington Legislature finally passed the Washington State Death with Dignity Act in 2008. The law allows certain physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. Terminally ill patients, according to the Washington State Death with Dignity Act, are those with six months or less remaining to live, who reside in Washington, and who are at least 18 years old.
When a married couple consists of two U.S. citizens, the estate planning rules treat them differently than if one spouse is a non-U.S. citizen or if both spouses are non-U.S. citizens. Although the differences may only affect the postponement of Federal estate taxes, the marital deduction set forth in the Internal Revenue Code may affect your estate plans.
Tip 1: Consider the children. When people with children from a previous relationship get married the new spouses automatically become entitled to a portion of the other's estate. This can impact how much the children stand to recover. You can use a prenuptial agreement to waive your right to inherit from your spouse and ensure your children aren't left out in the cold.
A nurse in Australia recently wrote a book detailing her experiences in dealing with the dying and coming to understand what they regretted the most. Though it can be hard to contemplate such thoughts, we can all benefit by learning from those who have faced their own mortality and understanding what it is they regretted so we might be able to avoid such regrets when our own time comes.
A lengthy probate battle can drain estate assets and leave beneficiaries without access to them until the matter is settled by the court. Although you may be under the impression that probate litigation is only for the rich and famous, rest assured it is not. In addition, you may be counting on the fact that you won’t be around to worry about it in the event a probate battle does come to pass.
Answer: Though prenuptial agreements are available to any couple, those entering into a second marriage or who already have children, stand to benefit the most by making sure a good prenup is part of their estate plan. Once you get married in Arkansas, you are automatically entitled to a portion of your spouse's estate when he or she dies.
If you’re creating an estate plan and want to leave your home to your family, there are a wide variety of options that allow you to do this. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, and each state may have different laws that impact the transfers. Always talk to your estate planning attorney for detailed advice before you decide on any particular method.
When a beneficiary who stands to receive a gift under a Will dies before the testator dies, the gift has no one to go to. This is called lapse. When this happens, that gift passes according either to the terms of the Will or to your state's intestacy laws and not to the deceased beneficiary's descendants.
Whenever someone establishes or creates a Trust, the Trust property must be managed and looked after through a process known as Trust Administration. Depending on the kind of Trust involved, Trust Administration can be fairly simple or extremely complicated.
For anyone with a substantial estate, the never-ending search for mechanisms to transfer those estate assets without incurring estate taxes should include the use of both the gift tax exemption and the yearly gift tax exclusion. With estate taxes typically running at 35 percent or more, any tactic that can be employed in the estate planning arsenal to avoid the payment of estate taxes should be considered.
Most of us listen to the never-ending stories about money disputes in Hollywood and shrug them off as having no relevance to our lives. While most don’t, there are some lessons to be learned from some of the infamous Hollywood money disputes that make the headlines on a regular basis. Take, for example, the recent death of music legend Etta James. The last year of James’ life can be an example for all of us about the importance of estate planning.
After you pass away, the transfer of assets to your loved ones may seem like a relatively simple and straightforward task. It should be but the realities of the tax code can make it rather challenging to avoid a significant portion of your legacy being consumed by the IRS.
If you are serious about being prepared for all of the eventualities of aging, you need to understand the fact that the majority of senior citizens will need living assistance someday. Given this reality, proceeding with the notion that it is unlikely that you will ever need such care is tantamount to a wager against the odds.
If you are expecting to retire in relative comfort you are going to have to acknowledge that this is a goal that will take effort to reach rather than viewing it as an entitlement. With the above having been stated, statistics tell us that a very high percentage of people are unprepared for retirement.
Many people equate the process of estate planning with the act of drawing up a last will. You may go this route if you choose to, but it is important to recognize that the probate court will be involved. While the estate is hung up in probate, interested parties who may have business with the estate will have an opportunity to seek payment.