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When an Elderly Parent When They Refuse to Write a Will

It is beneficial to create a will in order to preserve your final wishes and ensure your beneficiaries receive the assets you assign them. However, some choose to forego a will, which may be difficult for their family members to understand. In many ways, a will or trust can be useful for family members of the deceased so that they do not have to sort through the remaining assets and that may ease the stress on an already grieving group. There are reasons to pass on without a will, and if that is the wish of your loved one, then you may have difficulty in changing their mind.

Why Might You Avoid a Will?

There are some reasons it may be beneficial to not write a will, the most common ones are:

  • Dire financial situation
  • Unable to complete the will before passing on.
  • Procrastination
  • Deciding they do not have any assets worth including in a will or trust.
  • Unable to come to terms with their demise.

It is difficult to ensure that assets are divided as the deceased would like, partially because there are no instructions indicating what they prefer. The estate will almost surely pass through probate court and it will take a long time to distribute the assets at all. It can be challenging to convince your parent to write a will if they have already stated they do not wish to.

Three Steps to Start Off With

When you begin to work on a will with your parent, begin with a few small steps to promote them moving forward with it. The three steps you can start with are:

  1. Naming a Powers of Attorney for financial matters.
  2. You may include this designation in a living will if you wish, most people choose a close family member for this role.
  3. Have the designated Powers of Attorney look over the assets and financial status of the parent. It will be helpful to have this information to allow for proper representation of the parent later.

Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are having difficulties talking with your parent about writing a will, consider a consultation with an estate planning attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ locals trust so they can speak with your parent about the benefits and importance of leaving instructions for your loved ones. If they decide to move forward, your parent can begin the stages of estate planning with the attorney to ensure their wishes are honored. The likelihood of a contested will, a painful probate process, and overall confusion can be minimized with the advice of an experienced attorney.


Thanks to authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Estate Planning.

Can I Avoid Probate Following the Passing of a Loved One?

When a loved one passes away, the grieving process can take a serious emotional toll. In many cases, there will be a lot to sort out when it comes to the obligations associated with disbursing the property of a loved one. In the absence of an estate plan, it can be an overwhelming process to figure out what the person may have wanted.

Probate

When there is no will in place, legal and financial affairs are deciphered through the probate process. Tackling the process of probate can be stressful, especially when you are still grieving the loss of a loved one. During the probate process, the court will look at beneficiaries and determine how assets such as property and money will be distributed amongst them. The probate process can be exorbitant if someone contests the will or in situations where the estate is large.

Estate Planning Options

  • Probate can be prevented by developing an estate plan or will that determines beneficiaries who will receive your assets and property upon your passing.
  • An estate plan will circumvent the need for probate as the beneficiary will inherit your assets.
  • Once a trust has taken effect, the person who inherits your assets will officially become responsible for them and will be able to distribute them in any way they see fit. Once this occurs, they are no longer considered part of your estate.
  • A beneficiary may have to pay estate taxes on the trust.
  • Joint ownership is when property is owned by more than one person, in most cases this occurs with married couples.
  • When a person passes away, it is even possible for more than one person, such as a close friend or relative to receive joint custody of a property.
  • In many cases an estate is divided within the will amongst people who are identified by the person creating the will. This allows for you to take a closer look at how you will divide your assets and who they will go to.
  • You will be able to gift assets to beneficiaries but it will be important to keep in mind that the beneficiary may be required to pay taxes on gifts.
  • Be sure that all accounts have been updated by designating a beneficiary on all insurance policies and retirement accounts in order to avoid probate.

Developing an understanding of the options you may have will be important when going through probate, contacting an estate planning attorney such as the Estate Planning lawyer Memphis, TN locals trust will be beneficial as they will be able to offer knowledge and guidance through the process. With their assistance, they can make sure that you comply with any legalities that may be required.


Thanks to authors at Wiseman Bray LLC for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

 

What Will I Need to Prepare an Estate Plan?

 

Providing Proper Documentation

A will is the most basic tool in estate planning; it can be used for both smaller and larger estates. A will designates who gets which asset from an estate when you die. It can also be useful for younger couples to designate guardians if they have children. Despite your age or size of estate, planning for the future should be a top priority.  

If your estate is larger than the state minimum or if you are concerned about your family struggling through a probate process, you may wish to consider a willing trust. A living trust allows your money to be placed in a fund after death. Any property added into the trust will not have to pass through probate before being distributed to any heirs.

Another important document that you should have prepared is a healthcare directive. This document lets family know if you want to be resuscitated in an emergency and whether you wish to be sustained on life support if you are rendered into a coma.

Listing Beneficiaries

Naming beneficiaries for all of your accounts will allow you to work around probate. All that the transfer of funds will need to be completed is a copy of your notarized death certificate. There may be some taxes due, but probate will be mostly unnecessary.

Naming beneficiaries also allows for privacy which means that the estate will be safe from creditors and collectors. SInce the accounts don’t go through the probate process, they are not a matter of public record and accounts with beneficiaries are not considered part of an estate.

Handling the process will be easier and faster if you provide a prepared list of beneficiaries and account information ready to be put into your documents. This makes the executor’s job easier when they have to contact the institutions and heirs. Any accounts unclaimed will close and become the state’s property.

Do You Have Business or Investment Interests?

You should include a business succession plan to ensure that your business will continue to operate after the owner or manager is gone. You can find the proper forms on most state websites in their business sections. Many states only request you draft a basic letter or list successor’s names and then filing the proper forms.

Having a record of all account information including passwords and usernames, program files and financial information are useful in case you have an online business. If your business used a particular bank account or money service, then you should make this information known to your successors as well.

Making Your Estate Plan

Preparing your estate plan can be a complicated process, even with prepared documents. In order to ensure your assets are received by the correct beneficiaries and are not impacted by excessive fees, you should consider hiring an estate planning attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ. It is incredibly difficult to create a plan on your own and you should be as thorough as possible. Not to mention an attorney can help you revise it as life changes.


Thanks to authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Estate Planning.

What is the Job of a Trustee?

A trust is a legal entity that allows a person’s assets to be held safely on behalf of that person’s beneficiaries. Trusts are increasingly being used in estate planning because they help to control and protect a person’s wealth, and they can avoid probate and associated fees and taxes. There are numerous types of trusts, each with individual purposes geared towards achieving specific estate planning goals. Some of the most common types of trusts include:

  •         Revocable Living Trust
  •         Irrevocable Living Trust
  •         Retirement Benefit Trusts
  •         Special Needs Trust
  •         Asset and Divorce Protection Trust

With a trust comes a trustee. A trustee is essentially the person given control over the trust with the purpose of administering the assets according to the specified terms and instructions. It is important to note that a trustee does not own the assets of a trust. Essentially, a trustee manages and administers the property within the trust on behalf of the grantor and the beneficiaries it is intended for after the grantor dies. The trustee:

Responsibilities and duties of a trustee include:

  •         Following the specific instructions included in the trust documents.
  •         Keeping accurate records of the trust’s assets/property
  •         Filing necessary tax returns
  •         Reporting to beneficiaries as required by the trust
  •         Treating beneficiaries the same, unless instructed otherwise
  •         Investing trust assets in a manner that results in growth with little risk

You are required to perform the specified duties with care and good faith. As a trustee, you cannot:

  •         Mix assets of a trust with your own; you must keep accounts separate
  •         Use assets of the trust for your own benefit, unless instructed otherwise
  •         Disregard the interests of the beneficiaries and act in your own self-interest
  •         Fraudulently misappropriate assets of the trust
  •         Improperly handle financial matters
  •         Fail to comply with laws or regulation pertaining to the trust or estate

Seeking Legal Help

The job of a trustee can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, most trusts are created with the help of an experienced attorney and include clear and specific instruction. In addition, you do not have to this job all by yourself. In fact, it is advised to hire professional help for accounting and finance purposes. It is especially beneficial to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney, like a trust attorney O’Fallon MO can rely on. They can help you navigate the legal aspects of the process and offer proper guidance in handling certain matters.

 


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into trusts and trustee responsibilities.

 

How to Manage Beneficiaries Effectively as a Trustee

The wonderful thing about having a Trust is the avoidance of having to file for Probate within the Court system, as an estate planning or wills attorney Arlington TX trusts can attest. However, this does not deviate from the legal responsibilities of notifying all beneficiaries and communicating with them regarding assets.

Dealing with beneficiaries can be tricky and in order to maximize your fiduciary duty, our Firm strongly recommends retaining a law firm to assist you with these tasks. Beneficiaries have a right to be notified as to assets, sale of properties and a list of inventoried items. The more communication that you have with the beneficiaries the less likely you are to have a lawsuit filed against you for any misconduct.

Trust Administration can be lengthy on its own; however when you add beneficiaries into the situation it can become highly overwhelming. This is why we strongly urge you to seek counsel to assist in notifications, receipt of assets, inventory items and sale of the Estate assets.

A high assumption is that once the Decedent passes, the Estate can be distributed promptly and this is not the case. When you start to have inpatient heirs, or numerous beneficiaries the stress of complying with everyone’s needs can become overwhelming. This is usually where errors can occur and the stress of distributing assets before all proper documents are completed happens.

In turn, if you do not manage the Trust, or the Beneficiaries correctly, you could easily find yourself on the other end of a lawsuit defending your actions. This not only is a hassle but if you are found guilty of misconduct you could easily find yourself in jail for your actions. Mistakes can easily be made, however you have to remember that you are the Trustee and you have the ability to seek advice in administering the Trust correctly and efficiently.

Our Firm offers a free consultation to address any concerns with trust Administration. Please contact our office today to schedule yours. You have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries; but you have one to yourself also.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into estate planning and beneficiaries.

 

How Do You Challenge a Will?

 

If a person dies with a valid Last Will and Testament, the deceased person is said to have died “testate,” and the distribution of assets will be governed by the terms of the Will. The only way a Will becomes valid is by proving it in court by having a judge declare it a “valid” Last Will and Testament.  But what if you think a Will is invalid? What do you do to bring the Court’s attention to the problem?  

A Will can be challenged directly by means of a “Will Contest.”  These types of actions are governed by state-specific statutes and there can be deadlines associated with filing them. Therefore, if you believe that a Will is invalid, you should immediately hire a probate attorney Memphis, TN routinely trusts so that he or she can advise you of what needs to be done.  Some of the reasons a Will might be challenged are:

  •      The Will wasn’t executed and witnessed as required by law.
  •      The Decedent wasn’t of sound mind at the time the Will was executed.
  •      The Will was obtained through the undue influence of someone.
  •      The Will was obtained through the fraud of someone.

The purpose of a will contest is to determine once and for all who is entitled to inherit the decedent’s property. The primary question to be decided in a will contest is whether or not the decedent left a valid will. Everyone who claims an interest in the decedent’s estate has a right to become a party to the will contest action and to demand a trial on disputed questions of fact.

Not anyone can file a will contest action. As soon as the probate court is made aware of a will contest, it must determine whether the person seeking to contest the will has “standing” to pursue a will contest. Standing to pursue a will contest action is limited to those people who would benefit under the terms of another will or the laws of intestate succession if the will contest is successful. In other words, if you want to file a will contest action, you must stand to benefit if the will you challenge is set aside.

If you need help initiating a will contest action,  or have questions about a Will or the probate process, contact the trusted probate attorney for advice.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience in Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning.

kid on dad's shoulders

Creating an Estate Plan With Your Children In Mind

If you have any assets, property or important belongings, regardless of worth, it’s important to have an estate plan in place. An estate plan will allow you to arrange for the future of your belongings and your loved ones, which can give you peace of mind throughout your life. This is especially true after having children, because you will want to ensure that your children are taken care of in case something were to happen to you. When creating an estate plan to include your minor child or children, there are some significant things to consider.

 

Choosing a Caretaker For Your Children

Perhaps the most important aspect of an estate plan when you have minor children is legally appointing a caretaker for your children if you were to pass. Though this can be a difficult scenario to fathom, it is important to plan accordingly. Otherwise, if a tragedy were to occur, your family will be left deciding how best to care for your child. This could result in family feuds, custody battles or your child being left in the hands of the wrong person. In the case that both you and the other parent passed without appointing a caretaker, the state may take control over what happens to your child.

 

Having a legally appointed caretaker can ensure safety and security for your child. When choosing someone, it’s important to make the decision with the other parent. You will also need to talk to the person you wish to appoint as caretaker, so that you can ensure they are okay and capable of the potential responsibility. Properly planning this early on allows you to discuss your wishes with the appointed caretaker, as well as with the rest of the child’s family.

 

How Your Assets Will be Managed

You will likely wish to leave at least some major portion of your estate to your children. If they are minor, then you should create a trust where the money will go until the child is of the appropriate age. It is also vital that you name someone who can manage any assets or property until you child is old enough to receive them. You are able to include stipulations with these assets, for example by allowing money to be used toward your child’s education. If you fail to properly allocate parts of your estate to your child, then the state will be in charge of the assets. In such case, the court must be petitioned whenever funds are needed, which can be a long, difficult process.

 

When Your Children Will Receive Their Inheritance

You are generally able to decide when your child will receive their inheritance. This is a personal decision, but one that requires some thought. Some parents decide 18 is an appropriate age to receive an inheritance, but others believe that it’s best to wait until the child is 21. It may even be appropriate to choose an earlier or older age, such as when they marry, depending on your preference and the circumstances. It’s important to consider factors, such as when they may need the money most, or when you think they will be responsible enough to properly manage the money.  

 

With such significant and impactful decisions to make, it can be helpful to seek legal guidance from an experienced attorney. An estate planning attorney in Sacramento CA can help you determine how best to manage your estate based on your situation and children. In addition, they can help you properly establish necessary trusts, accounts and documentation regarding the future of your estate.

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a contact form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Starting a Business: What Research Should I Do?

 

You will want to begin with selecting what type of business you would like to run. Try to consider what its effects will be on your taxes and liability.

  1. Often, a simple and beneficial option would be for you to be the only business owner through sole proprietorship. By becoming a sole proprietor, you are basically registering your business for legal and tax purposes, and this means that you will also keep all of your profits after taxes but be held liable for any damages or losses. You could also set your business up as a LLC, or limited liability company. This can hold you less liable for any losses or damages than if you were to become a sole proprietor. If you are starting the business with a partner, consider a general partnership because it provides a basic entity. If you do not want your partner to have liability or limit his or her liability, you can always give them limited partnership. Determining how to structure your business can be complicated, and it is often in your best interest to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced business contracts and structure lawyer. 
  2. Before starting a business, you should always do your research on your competition. It is crucial that you know exactly who your top competitors are in the area. Research how they conduct their business and what you can learn from their failures and successes as a business. You can do this by talking to customers and employees within the business, or visit some conferences that they are attending and speak with them directly (but do not give away the information that you are beginning the same kind of business).
  3. Choose your company name and do research to understand your demographic better. Knowing your target audience will give you leverage over many similar businesses. Understanding who you are selling to is vital to a successful company because without it, your product will not sell.
  4. Review market research like business and legal reports. This will help you to prepare a business plan that will help you make more money. A business plan is essentially a roadmap that will lead you to success. It will include your budget, your projected growth, your plans on how you will generate your revenue, and will outline what your company brings to the table for investors. How your company’s business plan will look depends on your industry, so reviewing other business and legal reports will help you shape your plan in a more attractive manner.

Thanks to friends and contributors from Simba Information for their additional insight into business and legal reports.

 

estate planning lawyer

Top 10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid

You don’t have to be extremely wealthy to plan your estate. It is a common misconception that only wealthy and famous people must go through this process before they pass, but you should as well if you have any items of value like your bank account, car or home. Having an estate plan can benefit you by handling your assets and possibly increasing the profitability of your estate as well. It is always best to consult a professional when dealing with legal matters. Since it is difficult to avoid errors if you are planning your estate by yourself, here is a list of common mistakes to avoid.

  1. No Estate Plan

This is the number one mistake you can make! Setting up an estate plan before your passing can ensure your assets are properly distributed to your heirs and that there is no confusion regarding your final wishes.

  1. Procrastinating

You don’t want to wait too long to plan your estate. Meet with an estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA trusts as soon as possible.

  1. Naming Heirs on the Deed to Your House

This is actually a bad idea. If you put your child’s name on the deed of your home, you are actually saddling them with many taxes. Some states include gifts over a certain monetary amount is included in estate taxes. The help of a professional estate planner will help you leave your plan with minimal estate taxes.

  1. Choosing the Incorrect Person to Handle Your Affairs

A death in the family can make it hard on every member involved, particularly your immediate family. It seems only right that your spouse or eldest child will handle your affairs when you pass, but they may be too grief-stricken to take on the task. A member of the family or trusted friend that is a bit more distant could be a more fitting trustee, if only to give your family some room to grieve.

  1. Not Referring to a Tax Professional

You can avoid making this mistake by simply scheduling a consultation with a tax attorney while planning your estate. They can help you navigate the difficult world of taxes by providing you with systems to meet your estate’s needs without leaving behind a financial mess for your heirs.  

  1. Not Making Use of a Spouse’s Federal Exemption

If you are married, you may take advantage of a federal exemption of $675,000 to save on estate taxes. If your spouse dies, a small part of an estate will be put into an exemption trust, or credit shelter trust.

  1. Not Making Gifts

Making gifts is a great way to reduce your estate taxes. Not many people take advantage of this exception although it is quite useful. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows each spouse to gift an amount up to $14,000 per year that can be deducted from their estate tax.

  1. Not Updating Your Will When Necessary

A good time to revise your will is any time a major milestone or significant event happens. A birth, a death, divorce, the acquisition of property or money are all events that qualify. Things can change and you may want to add or remove someone from your will depending on the event.

  1. Not Transferring Your Life Insurance Policies to a Life Insurance Trust

After you pass on, your life insurance policy is affected by an estate tax. This means that part of your money goes to the government rather than to your heirs or beneficiaries. If you create a life insurance trust, you can avoid an estate tax and prevent your family from waiting too long for the insurance payout.

  1. Not Planning for Disabilities

A monumental change that can occur is a long-term injury resulting in disability. This scenario could be detrimental to your finances and family should you become incapacitated and require serious medical treatment. You should designate a caretaker for your children, decide what to do about finances and also choose someone to execute your healthcare wishes if you cannot do so. Establishing a living trust and choosing a power of attorney are important decisions to make BEFORE such a thing happens to you.   

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Uncomfortable Conversations with your Elderly Parents

With the rush of day-to-day living majority of people often forget to check in with their parents. People assume that their parents have super powers and even though they are aging; they simply do not need our assistance. The era of not discussing personal affairs or financials is upon us and as a society we need to have a duty of checking in with our parents and elders.

A simple visit to your parents weekly or a telephone call to check the quality of your parent’s life can assist in pre-planning for the future. Since the subject is one that people would prefer to brush under the rug or wait until the bottom of the basket collapses we need to educate society on simple ways to ensure that the future of our parents are a successful one.

Seeking the advice of an attorney for pre-planning documents such as Durable Power of Attorney’s, Medical Power of Attorneys, or Declaration of Guardians can assist for not having to rush and file a Guardianship to gain authority to place your parents in an assisted living facility or seeking the medical attention that they may need. You are also able to pre-plan by executing a Directive to Physician or an end of life document so that your loved ones are not faced with making difficult end of life decisions. When you have these documents executed prior to any mental disability or aging disability then you are able to prevent family feuds when family may not agree with your final wishes.

Educating oneself on the signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and locating support groups to assist in that education can make managing the health concerns and assist with the uncomfortable conversations with your parents. Signs to look for initially would include the inability to recognize oneself or family, inability communicate, groaning, moaning or grunting. When your parents begin to need help with activities of daily living or lack of control over bowel and bladder then it is up to you to bring this to their attention. They will be more than aware of the need for assistance but the family must come together to make the embarrassment of this issues mute and provide them with comfort and understanding.

When our parents or elders start to have increased memory loss and confusion or begin to have difficulty doing things that have multiple steps like getting dressed or taking medications it is signs that we are approaching legal aspects that a power of attorney can settle these affairs. However, if you do not have these documents in place and your parents or elders are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia then you will have no other option than to seek Guardianship over your parents through the Courts. The Guardianship process can be a lengthy one and your family members may not agree as to whom should be appointed Guardian of Person or even Guardian of Estate. The costs associated with a Guardianship are higher in retainer price because of the difficult processes you must go through to grant Letters of Guardianship.

Staying in contact with your parents and setting time aside to have these difficult conversations with your parents early on can avoid Court intervention later. As difficult as these conversations may be, they are necessary and it is more beneficial for all parties to seek legal advice from an attorney, like an estate planning lawyer Arlington TX relies on, to assist in pre-planning life documents.

Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into estate planning practice