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Estate Planning

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Primer on Irrevocable Trusts


A Will is one way to plan for the distribution of your assets after death, however, a comprehensive estate plan also considers other objectives such as planning for asset protection and long-term care. Therefore, you should consider utilizing an irrevocable trust.


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Friday, September 1, 2017

6 Events Which Can Trigger Will Revisions


6 Events Which May Require a Change in Your Estate Plan

Executing a Will may or may not be a one-time event. You should review your Will periodically to ensure it fulfills your wishes upon your death and make necessary changes if your personal situation, or that of your executor or beneficiaries, has changed. There are a number of life-changing events that may make you consider revising your Will, including:

Change in Marital Status: If you have gotten married or divorced, it is important that you review and possibly modify your Will. With a new marriage, you may want to add your spouse or possibly stepchildren as beneficiaries. Following a divorce it is a good idea to revise your Will if your former spouse was a beneficiary. You may also want to change your beneficiary on any life insurance policies, pensions, or retirement accounts.


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Monday, July 3, 2017

Issues to Consider When Gifting to Grandchildren


Issues to Consider When Gifting to Grandchildren

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, or others who want to give gifts to their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. may not be aware of a few issues related to what many consider to be a simple gift. If you are considering making a significant gift to a child, you should consult with a qualified attorney to guide you through the legal and tax issues that are involved.

Making a Lifetime Gift or a Bequest:  Before making a gift, you should consider whether you want to make the gift during your lifetime or leave the gift in your Will. If you make the gift as a bequest in your Will, they will receive the gift upon your death.


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Monday, May 1, 2017

Top 5 Overlooked Issues in Estate Planning


Top 5 Overlooked Issues in Estate Planning

In planning your estate, you most likely have concerned yourself with “big picture” issues such as who inherits what and should I have a living trust or a Will based plan? There are some details that are often overlooked, and may change the distribution of your estate away from your intended beneficiaries. Listed below are some of the common overlooked estate planning issues.

Liquid Cash: Is there enough available cash to cover the estate’s operating expenses until it is settled? The estate may have to pay attorneys’ fees, court costs, probate expenses, debts of the decedent, or living expenses for a surviving spouse or other dependents. Your estate plan should estimate the cash needs and ensure there are adequate cash resources to cover these expenses.

Tax Planning: Even if your estate is exempt from federal estate tax, there are other possible taxes that should be anticipated by your estate plan. The estate may have to pay income taxes on investment income earned before the estate is settled. Income taxes can be paid out of the liquid assets held in the estate. Other taxes may be paid by the estate from the amount inherited by each beneficiary. 


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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What are Letters Testamentary?

What are Letters Testamentary?

An individual who has been named as a "Personal Representative" or "Executor" in a will has a number of important duties. Probate is the court process in which the duly appointed Executor is given the authority to transfer the deceased person's property in accordance with a Will. The Executor, after qualifying as such, is given Letters Testamentary ("Letters") that give him or her the legal authority to administer the deceased person's estate.


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Monday, September 26, 2016

Costs Associated with Dying Without a Will


Costs Associated with Dying Without a Will

When someone dies without a will, it is known as dying intestate.  In such cases, state law (of the state in which the person resides) governs how the person's estate is administered. For people who leave behind large estates, unless they established certain types of trusts or instituted other tax avoidance protections, there may be a tremendous tax liability for the estate to pay.

For just about everyone, the cost of having a will prepared by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney is negligible when compared to the cost of dying intestate,  since there are a number of serious consequences involved in dying without a proper will in place.

Legal Consequences

The larger your estate, the more catastrophic the consequences of dying intestate will be.
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Shouldn't I Use a Form From the Internet for My Will?


In this computer age, when so many tasks are accomplished via the internet -- including banking, shopping, and important business communications -- it may seem logical to turn to the internet when creating a legal document such as a will . Certainly, there are several websites advertising how easy and inexpensive it is to do this. Nonetheless, most of us know that, while the internet can be a wonderful tool, it also contains a tremendous amount of erroneous, misleading, and even dangerous information.

In most cases, as with so many do-it-yourself projects, creating a will most often ends up being a more efficient, less expensive process if you engage the services of a qualified attorney.  Just as most of us are not equipped to do our own plumbing repairs or automotive repairs, most of us do not have the background or experience to create our own legal documents, even with the help of written directions.
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Monday, September 12, 2016

Things to Consider When Picking an Executor


The role of an executor is to effectuate a deceased person’s wishes as declared in a will after he or she has passed on. The executor’s responsibilities include the distribution of assets according to the will, the maintenance of assets until the will is settled, and the paying of estate bills and debts. An old joke says that you should choose an enemy to perform the task because it is such a thankless job, even though the executor may take a fee for doing the job.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What is an Estate Tax?


While the terms "estate tax" and "inheritance tax" are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Let's try to clarify the difference.

The main difference between estate taxes and inheritance taxes is who pays the tax. The clue is in the name.  Estate taxes are paid by the deceased person’s estate before the money is distributed to their heirs.
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Friday, December 11, 2015

Controlling Estate Planning Through Trusts

How can I control my assets after death?

The practice of estate planning is dedicated to preserving an individual’s control over his or her assets after death. A simple will can control which individuals receive what assets, but a more thorough plan has the potential to do much more. Establishing a trust is the most common method used to exercise this kind of control. 

A trust can issue a bequest restricted by a condition; for example, a trust might be established to pay out $10,000.00 to a specific grandchild only once he or she has reached 18 years of age. Multiple payments can be made to the beneficiaries as long as the trust is funded. The trust can stipulate that the grandchild may have to graduate from college to receive the money, or even that he or she must graduate from a specific school with a minimum grade-point average or membership in a particular fraternity or sorority.

A trust can make the condition of payment as specific or as broad as the creator of the trust wishes. It may, for instance, bequeath benefits to a humanitarian organization on condition that the organization continues to provide food and shelter to the homeless. There is no limit to the number of conditions permissible in a trust document. Even when the conditions go against public policy and general norms and mores established by society, as long as the conditions may be met legally, they will usually be upheld by the court.

In order to create a trust, there must be a capital investment to fund it and a trustee must be named. The trustee is responsible for protecting the assets of the trust, investing them to the best of his or her ability, managing real estate and other long-term assets, interpreting the trust document, communicating regularly with the beneficiaries of the trust and performing all of these actions with a high level of integrity. Trust assets may be used to pay for expenses of managing the trust as well as to provide payment for the trustee if so provided for in the trust document.

If a trust document is not well written, it may be the target of a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the trust and disburse the assets held therein. Even if the trust is defended successfully, the costs of this challenge may deplete its coffers and frustrate the very reason for its creation. In order to avoid these possible pitfalls, it is important that a trust document be drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney.


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