If you have not updated your estate plan to include loved ones who are not provided for in your existing plan, you may be tempted to make deathbed gifts. However, in addition to the obvious problem that none of us knows the exact time we will die and may not be able to make the deathbed gifts we intend, there are some other drawbacks to deathbed planning that you may not have thought about. And the downsides of deathbed planning can outweigh any benefits you may think it will achieve. To learn more about the pitfalls of gifting on your deathbed, read this blog.
A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is a popular estate planning tool that allows people to avoid probate; eliminate, defer, or lower estate taxes; and distribute money and property to their beneficiaries at death. Another major benefit of living trusts is that they help the trustmaker (i.e., the grantor, trustor, or settlor) arrange for the management of the trust's money and property should they become disabled, ill, or the victim of age-related decline. In addition to defining incapacity, the trustmaker can choose a group of people to determine if the definition of incapacity has been met. The trust documents can leave this decision to a doctor or the court, or the trustmaker can instead name a private disability panel. Read this blog to learn more about utilizing a disability panel in your living trust in the event you become incapacitated.
You should understand the important role that a trustee plays not only in handling trust matters but also in providing for and protecting your loved ones. Read this blog to learn more about the responsibilities of a trustee, what characteristics to look for in a trustee and who you should name to serve as a trustee.
You have put in many years of hard work at your job, and you are now able to focus your energy on the next phase of your life - retirement. Before you begin this next chapter, you need to make sure that you have fully thought through this exciting change in your life. Read this blog to learn more about the steps you need to take.
Three Things You Need to Do When Your Spouse Dies and Their Will or Trust Has a Disclaimer Provision
Although it is important to take time to grieve after the loss of your spouse, there are also some crucial steps you need to take as soon as possible to address your spouse's accounts and property and secure your own future. If your spouse's will or trust, or your joint trust, has a disclaimer provision, one of the time-sensitive decisions you will need to make is whether to disclaim (refuse to accept) money or property that you will otherwise receive as a trust beneficiary.
Would you like to provide your children or loved ones with an inheritance but protect them from the risks that may accompany a large windfall? If so, read this blog to learn more about a beneficiary-controlled trust.
ABC's TV show Modern Family depicts the relationships and experiences between a fictional extended family and is an excellent example of why estate planning is crucial to ensure that everyone is protected when one of them dies or becomes disabled or incapacitated. Read this blog to develop an understanding of some of the issues that need to be considered in a variety of different family circumstances.
Simply creating a will does not mean that your estate plan is complete or final. Your will may need to be updated from time to time due to changes in family circumstances, change in state of residence, change in tax laws, etc. A will may even need to be revoked and redrafted entirely. To learn more about the legal requirements of executing - and changing - a will, read this blog.
If someone dies without a will, probate is the process by which a court declares who that person's heirs are and appoints an administrator who will distribute the person's money and property as required by state law. Because the probate process can sometimes be expensive and lengthy, and the details of the deceased person's estate may become part of public court records, many people create an estate plan designed to avoid probate by using a revocable living trust. However, there are some circumstances in which a probate proceeding may still be necessary! Read this blog to understand more about when you may want to open a probate proceeding after a loved one's death.
Under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, most beneficiaries must receive an entire retirement account within ten years of the account owner's death. However, minor children of an account owner fall into a special category of beneficiaries that provides for the mandatory ten-year payout period not to begin until minor child turns twenty-one. This blog will help you learn more about naming a minor child - or a trust - as the beneficiary of a retirement account.
If you own cryptocurrency, you need a plan - a plan for the distribution of this asset type after your death. Part of that plan is organizing your investment and necessary information that your loved ones will need in order to access your cryptocurrency. The following stories are each a little different, but they all underline the simple warning: you need a plan! Read this blog to learn more.
Because life changes quickly and sometimes unexpectedly, your estate plan needs to be flexible. By creating incentives for particular events, you can continue to exercise your values and provide for your loved ones beyond your lifetime. Read this blog to learn more about incentive-based provisions in an estate plan.
A decision that needs to be made during the estate planning process is who will care for your child if both you and the child's other legal parent die unexpectedly. It is not uncommon to have close friends and family members who live in a different country and they may be a good choice as a guardian for your minor child. But it raises the question of whether a non-US citizen may legally qualify for guardianship. To learn more, continue reading this blog.
The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a privacy law that protects the personal information of individuals (or as the law refers to them, “data subjects”) in the European Union (EU). The GDPR does not necessarily apply to all US businesses with a European presence, nor are the obligations the same for all businesses to which the GDPR applies. But, if it does apply to your business, you need to have a clear understanding about your legal obligations because GDPR penalties can be steep. Read this blog to learn more about GDPR.
Thinking about embarking on a great adventure during spring break? Before you zip up the last suitcase, read this blog to ensure that you are well-prepared for your upcoming travel.
In most states, there is a legal presumption that people have capacity to create their estate planning documents and that they can transfer their property to whomever they would like. Therefore, a person challenging your plan has the burden of proving that you did not have the requisite mental capacity at the time your documents were signed. Read this blog for some proactive steps you can take to provide evidence of your competency when you create or update your estate plan.
When planning your next great travel adventure, you may decide that you can do it yourself. However, you need to consider calling in a special planning team to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected during your travels and afterward. Read this blog to learn which members you need on your team and then schedule time with each of them well in advance of your travel dates.
Although not for everyone, an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) can be an advantageous tool for minimizing estate taxes and maximizing the money and property that are passed on to a spouse, descendants, or other beneficiaries. Read this blog to learn more about this advanced estate planning tool.
Cohabitation without marriage is more common now in the United States; however, it can create legal complications. To learn more about joint ownership of assets and the legal implications for unmarried individuals, read this blog.
No one wants to pay more taxes than they have to so many people search for the perfect estate planning tool that will allow them to control as much of their money and property as possible while reducing the amount they or their loved ones will have to pay in taxes after their death. A spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT) is an irrevocable trust that can achieve this goal for some married couples. Keep reading to learn more.
Anne Heche's accidental death was a shocking reminder of how the everyday can quickly turn into the tragic and provided some tough lessons about the need for estate planning. Rather than Heche's estate being distributed according to her final wishes, it is now subject to state law and a very long and public probate court proceeding since she did not formalize her wishes in accordance with California law. To learn more about the need for estate planning for everyday life, read this blog.
There are situations in which a person may want to set up a trust to be used during their lifetime for their own benefit to maintain privacy or avoid a potential conflict of interest. In such cases, a blind trust might be appropriate. To learn more about blind trusts, read this blog.
As a fiduciary, you have an obligation to use reasonable diligence to locate a missing beneficiary. What is considered reasonable depends on the circumstances. To learn more about locating a missing beneficiary if you are serving as a decedent's fiduciary, continue reading this blog.