If you have recently suffered the loss of a family member or loved one, you may be concerned about the legal steps required to probate the decedent’s estate. Probate is the legal process in court by which a decedent’s estate assets are inventoried and valued, debts of the decedent are paid and assets eventually transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Whether or not an estate must go through probate depends on a number of factors. Wills, Trusts, and Estate matters are governed … [Read more...] about Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate?
Estate planning is an ongoing process – when life changes, so should your plan. Many believe that once estate planning documents, such as a will, living trust or a durable power of attorney, are executed, their estate plan is complete. This is not the case – in fact, there are several mistakes that people tend to make in estate planning: 1. Failing to keep documents up to date. Changes such as marriage, divorce or the death of a spouse, beneficiary or executor should trigger a … [Read more...] about Avoiding Estate Planning Mistakes
Retirement accounts play an important role in estate planning, one of the main benefits being that retirement accounts avoid probate, as they pass to a named beneficiary using a beneficiary form that you complete when you open your account. IRAs, Individual Retirement Accounts, are not only powerful estate planning tools, but they, of course, are great vehicles for saving for retirement with tax benefits. In fact, the income tax on an IRA is payable only when funds are withdrawn from the … [Read more...] about IRA Distributions and Children: A Probem and a Solution
Life insurance can be a powerful estate planning tool. There are several roles it can play in easing the burden of your passing on your loved ones. While many consider life insurance to simply be an income replacement when a loved one passes, which, of course it is, there are other ways it fits into an estate plan: 1. To pay expenses while an estate is in probate or a trust is being administered. Since life insurance pays benefits to a named beneficiary, it avoids probate, and … [Read more...] about Does Life Insurance’s have a Role in an Estate Planning?
While there are some rather complicated estate planning instruments utilized to achieve certain objectives, there are some simple and straightforward ways to transfer assets to your loved ones as well. One of these would be through the utilization of payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) accounts. You can set up an account like this at banks or credit unions, and some brokerage houses will allow for transfer on death options as well. When you set up the account you name a … [Read more...] about Are Pay on Death (POD) Accounts a Good Idea?
Many people mistakenly believe that a simple Will is all the estate planning they need. However, it is very likely you may need more than a Will to cover your all assets. A Will does not cover all types of property. This is a list of five items your will cannot cover or address. Survivorship property: If you own property in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship with a co-tenant, your Will does not determine ownership and succession rights. Instead, the surviving joint tenant … [Read more...] about 5 Types of Assets A Will Does Not Cover
If one of your loved ones has a substance abuse problem, an inheritance may make the addiction worse or even kill him or her. At the least, the inheritance is likely to be squandered. For anyone who has an addiction such as drugs or alcohol, it is best to pass the inheritance in trust, not outright. How Outright Inheritances Work Outright gifts pass into your beneficiary’s individual name. They are within your beneficiary’s full control, to be spent any way he deems appropriate. This … [Read more...] about The Addicted Beneficiary: A Problem and a Solution
Even in the best of times, people are always looking for ways to save money. During tough economic times, like we have seen over the past few years, finding ways to save money becomes even more important. Cutting corners when it comes to estate planning, however, is not one of the ways you want use to cut costs. Let’s look at just one example of the bad estate planning that results when trying to save money by “do-it-yourself” estate planning. Imagine the following scenario. You decide that … [Read more...] about Transferring Ownership of Your Home–An Example of Bad Estate Planning
Parenting is a tough job--and it doesn’t end when your children become adults. Tough decisions are still required to be made even after your children reach adulthood, like how to treat them under the terms of your estate plan. As a parent, your first reaction is likely that you will treat them all the same, of course! This is, unfortunately, a common estate planning mistake. None of your children are the same so why must they be treated the same in your estate plan? This does not mean you should … [Read more...] about Common Estate Planning Mistakes: Treating All Children the Same
No way! Married people need estate plans. Some folks think that because they own assets jointly with a spouse, they don’t need an estate plan. In fact, joint ownership is called a “poor man’s estate plan.” In reality, it should just be called a “poor estate plan.” Joint tenancy ownership is riddled with perils. Likely, the most serious peril is the unintentional disinheritance of your children. Sadly, it happens too often because of joint ownership. This is what can happen when you … [Read more...] about Married People Don’t Need Estate Plans, Right?