What is probate and how can it be avoided?
During probate, the executor will gather and safeguard estate assets. The executor also will use
estate assets to pay valid claims, such as funeral expenses. The executor must publish notice of
the probate to inform all possible creditors, and must directly notify known creditors. Creditors
then have six months to file claims. To close the estate, the executor must submit a final report
for the court with receipts from the beneficiaries who received assets.
Do I need a will?
Every person who is 18 years old and is of sound mind and memory can create a will. A Will
must be in writing, signed, and attested by two or more credible witnesses.
How do I know if I need a legal Estate Plan?
Estate Planning can be confusing and emotional; it doesn't have to be! For many families,
having an estate plan is critical. It can save thousands of dollars, prevent hurt feelings among
family members, and avoid year
manageable when you understand the basic concepts and terms. Then you will be able to decide
if estate planning will benefit you and your fas of headaches. Like many things, estate planning becomes more mily.
Common Estate Plans
The last column discussed probate and how to avoid it. Did you notice that none of the
suggestions for probate avoidance was a Will? That's because Wills don't avoid probate.
10 Myths and Truths About Living Trusts - Part 1
Many individuals and families choose to use Living Trusts in their estate plan, along with Wills.
Before you decide whether to use a trust, you should understand what living trusts can and
10 Myths and Truths About Living Trusts - Part 2
Last month I explained five myths and truths to help you choose whether to use a Living Trust in
your estate plan. Here are five more myths and truths about living trusts to increase your
Make tea, not war.
One of the issues that can result in hurt feelings on the death of a parent is
the parent's neglecting to effectively gift the family's personal property. Personal property can
be valuable - like an art collection - or it can be sentimental and of little value - like the cracked
teapot Mom used every day. It's a shame that one sister's receipt of the cracked teapot may cause
hard feelings for years, but how can this situation be avoided?
What Does an Executor Do?
In every estate planning file I discuss with my client who they will name as their Executor. I often receive, in a quick answer, the name of the client's oldest child. It's as if being named as Executor is a birthright and a privilege. Some clients seem to believe that they would insult their oldest child by naming someone else Executor. I think choosing an executor should take a different route.
What is a Power of Attorney - and When do I need one?
A Power of Attorney is an extremely powerful piece of paper! It is a document which allows
another person to sign your name and/or conduct business or manage health care decisions on
your behalf, with the same legal effect as if you had signed or acted in person.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
As discussed in the last column, a Power of Attorney is a powerful tool. It is a document which
allows another person to sign your name or manage health care decisions on your behalf, with
the same legal effect as if you had signed or acted in person. The last column addressed the uses
of a Power of Attorney for Property. This column will discuss the Power of Attorney for Health
How do you know it is time for an Estate Plan review?
You already may have an estate plan with a Will, a Trust, Powers of Attorney, and perhaps other
documents. It is a good idea periodically to review the estate plan documents, your beneficiary
designations on retirement assets, and your other assets and family situation, to see if your estate
plan still fits. How do you know it is time for a review?
Estate Planning Must Include Business Succession Planning
Family businesses are a staple of America, from small home offices to large manufacturing concerns. All family businesses present unique issues for the estate plan. Research shows that only 30% of families
successfully pass the business to the next generation. Because running a business is hard work, most
business owners find themselves too absorbed in the business to address longer term issues like planning
Special Needs Trusts For Disabled Persons
Families that include disabled children and adults must navigate a complicated system of laws concerning healthcare, housing, guardianships, and government benefits, all while providing the daily care and support that their disabled family member needs. The task is daunting. Family and friends can make the
situation worse by directing an inheritance or gift to the disabled person. A gift could disqualify the
disabled person from government health care and supportive service programs for which it took years to
qualify. This discussion of special needs trusts may help both the special needs family and well-meaning
friends and relatives to plan appropriately to enhance the quality of life of the disabled individual without endangering eligibility for government assistance.
A Quick Review - and Naming the Beneficiary of your IRA
It is still a common belief that the Will is the cornerstone of an estate plan. When naming a
guardian for minor children is not an issue, the Will is a "just in case" document. It is included in
the plan, but it should not be used to transfer title to assets after a death. If it is being used in this
way, then the goal of avoiding probate has been missed.