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Estate Planning Simplified

For those thinking about the future of their family, can benefit from consulting with an estate planning attorney at Yee Law Group for advice. At some point, people may consider what will happen to their belongings and assets after they pass. We understand estate planning can feel a little odd and be a sensitive task. We can help you make decisions about what kinds of paperwork to include in your estate plan or will.

We have been dedicated to helping clients feel confident about how their treasures will be handled after they pass on for more than 40 combined years being in business. We have created a list of steps entailed in creating an estate plan, so the task does not feel quite as daunting or intimidating.

You may have heard the term “estate planning” but are not exactly sure that means. By following the list below, and with some help from an estate planning attorney at Yee Law Group, you are on the road to protecting the future of your legacy.


  • Draft a Will


When writing your will, you want to list who shall inherit your property, belongings and other items in the event of your passing. It can be beneficial to also list a guardian to care for your children (if underage at the time), in case something unfortunate happens to the other parent as well.


  • Consider a Living Trust


If you establish a living trust, it can help prevent your surviving family members from having to attend probate court, which can be a very time-consuming and potentially expensive process.


  • Health Care


If you are ever unable to make medical choices for yourself, decisions can be made by the person you appoint as power of attorney for health care purposes.


  • Financial Power of Attorney


The person you list to handle your finances is referred to as your attorney-in-fact or agent, but does not have to be an actual attorney. You will be giving this person a durable power of attorney for finances, so they can make decisions if you become disabled or incapacitated.


  • Protecting Property of Children


An adult should be named in your estate plan who will manage any money or property that your underage children may inherit.


  • Beneficiaries


Name a beneficiary for your retirement plans and bank accounts in order to skip the probate process. By doing so, the account becomes “payable on death” to the beneficiary and permits funds to be handled by him or her.


  • Funeral Expenses


You can create a payable upon death account with your bank to pay for funeral expenses. This method can be preferred over a funeral repayment plan, which can be unreliable.


  • Organizing Documents


Your attorney-in-fact or executor may need easy access to the following kinds of documents. Keep these in a safe place that is quick to obtain.

  • Will
  • Trust
  • Real Estate Deeds
  • Insurance Policy
  • Certificates for Bonds, Stocks
  • Bank Account, Mutual Fund Information
  • Retirement Plan, 401K or IRA Information
  • List of Debts: Credit Cards, Mortgages, Unpaid Taxes
  • Final Arrangements
  • Funeral Repayment Plan

By hiring an estate planning attorney at Yee Law Group, we can help answer any questions or concerns related to your last will and testament. Please call us today at 916-927-9001 to schedule your first free consultation.

Estate Planning When You Have a Business Partner

One of the most satisfying things for many people is the day they finally open their own business and no longer work for anyone else. They are finally their own boss. Some business owners own their business solo, while others decide to go into business with a partner or partners. When a business partner dies, it can be difficult not only personally, but there are also legal issues that could affect the business. What happens to that business now?

Do you sell the business, liquidate the assets and split them between your partner’s heirs and yourself, or does someone from your partner’s family come in and take his or her place?

Partnership Agreement

When you formed your business with your partner, you likely drafted a partnership agreement that included a clause addressing what would happen to the business if one of the partners died or became permanently disabled. If you had a Memphis estate planning lawyer assist you in drafting the agreement, he or she may have suggested one of the following options:

  • The decedent’s estate takes over their share of the partnership.
  • The decedent’s share is transferred to the other partner, who will make payment to the estate.
  • The partner has the option to purchase the decedent’s share of the business using some type of agreed-upon financial formula.

No Partnership Agreement

If you and your partner did not draft a written partnership agreement, then the rules of the Partnership Act would apply. Every state except for Louisiana has adopted the Partnership Act into state law for business regulations.

According to the Partnership Agreement, when one of the partners dies, that immediately dissolves the partnership. The surviving partner or partners will then owe the estate of the partner who died the amount of the decedent’s share of what the business was worth on the day they died.

For example, let’s say three friends – Mike, Pat, and Eric – open a business under a general partnership but they don’t draft a partnership agreement. Each one of the men put up one-third of the capital needed to start the business. Eric dies, which then dissolves the partnership. After the business has been dissolved and debts paid, Mike and Pat receive a third of the leftover capital, and Eric’s third goes to his estate. Mike and Pat take their capital and start the business up again, only this time with two partners.

Should Partners Have Agreements to Address Death?

There are risks associated with having an agreement and risks associated with not having one. If you do not have an agreement and your partner dies, the partnership dissolves. It can take time to address all the issues that involve dissolving a partnership, liquidating its assets, and paying off the debts. What happens if the surviving spouse or other heirs want their share of the partnership immediately? They could decide to sue to gain immediate release of the capital owed to them.

There are also potential issues with an agreement, especially if the agreement says the partner’s survivor steps in as the new partner. A spouse or other family member may not be on the same wavelength as the surviving partner, resulting in a lot of disagreements

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into Estate Planning When You Have a Business Partner.


Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

What is a trust?

A trust is legal, fiduciary arrangement that is created to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary.  A trustee is the person who is in charge of overseeing the assets in the trust. There are several different types of trusts that can be used for estate planning purposes.

What is a living trust?

A living trust is one that is created by an individual who maintains control over the trust while they are alive. This is also referred to a revocable trust because the person may change or revoke the trust at any time. The person can put whatever assets they choose into the trust and then designate a beneficiary who will receive the contents of the living trust upon the individual’s death.

The individual can also stipulate that instead of the beneficiary having control of the assets, a third-party, or trustee, will oversee control of the trust. The individual can leave specific instructions on how or when any assets are distributed to the beneficiary.

One of the benefits of a living trust is that it does not require any probate process when the individual dies. The assets are transferred immediately to either the beneficiary or to the trustee if one has been appointed.

What is an irrevocable trust?

An irrevocable trust is a living trust, where assets are placed and are transferred to the beneficiary upon the decedent’s death, however, the trust itself is irrevocable. Once a person establishes an irrevocable trust, they cannot change or revoke it at a later date. Many people choose an irrevocable trust because of the tax benefits that may be realized. Your estate planning attorney can explain what, if any, benefits this type of trust would have for your estate and/or beneficiaries.

Do I still need a will if I have a living trust set up?

Although you may have a living trust established, there are still issues that need to be addressed when a person dies that only a will can address. The only assets that do not have to be addressed are the ones in the living trust, but most people also have other assets and/or property when they die that are not in the trust. Examples of these assets include household belongings and furniture, vehicles, jewelry, valuable collections, digital assets, and checking and savings accounts. The only way to legally specify how you want these other assets distributed is to document your wishes legally in a will. A probate court will not accept any other documentation, only a legally executed will.

In addition to assets that need to be distributed, there are usually debts and/or taxes that an estate needs to pay. You will need to name a person to oversee your estate and make sure that not only assets are divided, but also that the debts are paid.

Parents who have minor children can also name who they want to be their children’s guardian in the will and how the children’s financial needs will be handled.

If you do not have a will, all of these issues will be decided by the court, with no guarantee that what the court decides is what you would have decided. Speak with an experienced attorney such as the Scottsdale Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys locals turn to.

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

How do I know that the Will I made is valid?

        A lot of people buy Wills online or through Kinkos. But how can you make sure that the Will you bought is valid? Following are formalities and solemnities that are required for a valid Will. For the purpose of this blog post, a testator is the person making a Will in many states like Texas.

  1. Writing requirement. The Will must be in writing. The Will either has to be entirely typed or entirely in the testator’s handwriting. It cannot be in between.
  2. Signature requirement. The Will must be signed by the testator. The signature of the testator does not have to be his formal signature. The only requirement for the signature is that the it be a name or mark intended to express approval of the will as the testator’s will.  The signature can be located anywhere in the will and not just at the end of the document. Although, traditionally, that is where you will find the signature.
  3. Witness requirement. If the will is not a holographic will – entirely in testator’s handwriting, it requires two (2) witnesses who are 14 years of age or older to sign the Will in testator’s presence. The witnesses must sign the will itself. They cannot later draft an affidavit stating they were present at the will execution. The witnesses have to be credible. The executor can be a credible witness if the only thing she receives under the Will is compensation for being an executor. A beneficiary under the Will cannot be a credible witness. The witness does not have to have knowledge of the contents of the will. The witnesses do not have to sign in each other’s presence.
  4. Capacity requirement. Not only does the will you have needs to be executed properly but who can make a will is also a question that must be addressed. To make a will, a person must be at least 18 years of age or older.
  5. Sound mind requirement. To make a will, a person must be of sound mind. A person is of sound mind if the person has sufficient mental capacity to make a will. The person must understand the he/she is making a will. He/she must know the effect of making a will. The person must understand the nature of property he/she owns. The person must know her next of kin. The person must understand the business to be transacted – making of a will.

If you are unsure if the document you received from online or Kinkos, please contact an experienced estate planning attorney Arlington TX relies on. Not only they can verify what you have is a valid will or not, but can also draft one for you.

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

Why it is Crucial to Purchase Title Insurance When Buying a Home

Most property that people purchase can be physically transported from the seller to the buyer. This would include everything from jewelry, a car, a washing machine, etc. However, the purchase of land in any form, whether a home, a lot or acreage, is accomplished strictly by the use of documents.

Typically the seller executes a Warranty Deed in favor of the buyer. The deed is recorded with the local county, and constitutes proof that the buyer now owns the land. What, then, is the purpose of title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance is critically important in the event that future events reveal that the seller did not have clear title to the property. As the saying goes, “one cannot give what one does not have.”

For example, assume that the seller of a parcel of land inherited that land when his widowed father died without a Will.  Assuming that the son was an only child, he would inherit this land. However, assume further that five years after purchasing the land from the son, a nephew of the father comes forward with a validly signed Will which clearly gives the father’s land to the nephew?

In such a situation the owner’s title insurance will hire an attorney, like a real estate or real estate litigation lawyer Coeur d’Alene ID residents turn to, to go to court to defend the owner against the nephew’s claim. However, should the nephew’s claim be validly based on a properly executed Will, then the owner’s title insurance policy will pay the owner for the financial loss of that land. In other words, the owner will be “made whole.”

In many real estate transactions, it is common to require the seller of the home to pay the cost of the owner’s title insurance policy. Unlike most insurance policies which require regular monthly payments, owner’s title insurance is paid in one lump sum at the time of the closing of the sale of home.

The owner’s title insurance policy may protect the owner from other types of losses regarding the home, such as:

— Previously undisclosed easements
— Unknown liens by tradesmen and contractors
— Violations of zoning laws
— Unlawful encroachments on to other property
–Encroachment of fences

NOTE – All title insurance policies are not the same. The degree of protection the buyer receives depends upon the exact language of the policy of insurance.

Finally, if a person purchases a home using a mortgage, the mortgaging bank will almost always require the buyer to purchase Lender’s Title Insurance, protecting the bank from the types of losses described above.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Bendell Law Firm PLLC for their insight into title insurance.


Managing Wealth After a Divorce

Divorce is known to be a financially disastrous task, but rebuilding your wealth afterwards is very possible. Since you may have been dependent on two incomes to help pay bills and other things for your entire household, learning how to manage your income with one less individual to support can be a little rough. However, if you learn to establish a budget and not go over it, reassess your current financial situation, reevaluate and re-prioritize your financial goals and projected income, it can be a lot easier to understand and maintain.

One step to financial planning is to review your financials and expenses monthly. You should begin by looking at your income sources, your most common purchases, which assets now only belong to you, and your new tax situation.  Although every divorce is different, it is always harder and more expensive to maintain two households instead of one. If you are paying child support and alimony as well while you are supporting your own household, your expenses will obviously go up. If your ex partner was working when you divorced and you split the assets down the middle, then you only will have your household and possibly child support to worry about. You should also review your past year’s credit card and bank statements.  You can make a chart and organize your expense category and list separate expenses for you, your former partner, and your children if you have any.  Once you have made this list, you will definitely have a better and broader understanding of what you can afford, so you can allocate the money to new things that you may need.  If you were awarded the house, consider downsizing to an apartment to save money. You will have one less person living with you, so there is no need for extra space unless you have children that will live with you.

Insurance coverage for both you and your ex spouse is typically negotiated as part of the divorce settlement.  Because spouses usually share the same insurance plan, try to make it a priority to find good health insurance coverage after your divorce.  Also, now that you are single you will want to make sure that your life insurance coverage and disability coincides with your current state of health.  You will possibly need to change your beneficiary designations on any retirement accounts, wills, estate plans, and bank accounts that you have in your name.  Some divorce settlements may require you to keep your ex as a beneficiary on a policy, in which you cannot change the beneficiary designation. Speak with an experienced attorney such as the family lawyer Tampa FL locals turn to.


Thanks to authors at The McKinney Law Group for their insight into Family Law.


Do trusts pay taxes?

People often set up a trust to makes things easier on their family when they pass away, and to provide for the future of their family. However, taxes on trusts can sometimes make things very complicated. The short answer to the question “do trusts pay taxes?” is . . . well, . . . it depends, and consulting a trusts lawyer Phoenix, AZ frequently relies upon is advised.
The long answer is that the structure of the trust will greatly influence how complicated the taxes will be. If simplicity is the goal, provisions can be included to accomplish that. And if complicity is the goal, lawyers can easily make things complicated. Trusts are taxable entities, however, who pays the taxes (the trust itself or the individual who created it) can vary depending on how the trust was set up.

Grantor (Revocable)Trusts

In a grantor trust, sometimes called a “revocable trust” the grantor (the person who created the trust) usually retains the right to add and remove assets from the trust. When the grantor retains this sort of control, the benefit is such that the trust itself generally does not need to file its own tax return. Rather the grantor, the person creating the trust, would file their own individual tax return and list any income from the trust assets.

Non-Grantor (Irrevocable) Trust

In an irrevocable trust where the grantor doesn’t have the ability to add and remove assets, the trust is considered an independent entity that owns the assets and the trust itself must file a tax return. If money is distributed to the beneficiaries, then whether it is taxable or not to the beneficiaries will depend on whether principal or income was distributed, and if it was income, then whether it was tax-free income or retained income from previous years that the trust has already paid tax on. If a trust distributes money to a beneficiary, the trust may also be entitled to deductions for any distributable net income. After that, any leftover income gets taxed directly to the trust.

Each person’s needs and wants are different and can lead to a variety of outcomes when it comes to estate planning. When in doubt, contact an estate planning attorney to talk you through the pros and cons of the different types of trusts.


Thank you for our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada for their insight on this subject matter.


Contesting the Validity of a Will

It is not unusual for some family member to be shocked when the Last Will and Testament of a recently deceased person reveals that they have been disinherited. The following is an example of a situation that frequently occurs:

John Smith is an 87 year old widower, with four adult children – James, Robyn, Phillip and Jessica. Twenty years previously John signed a Will prepared by an attorney, like an estate planning or estate litigation lawyer Coeur d’Alene ID trusts. The Will stated that all his property would go to his wife, unless she predeceased him, in which case his property would be divided equally among his four children.

John dies just a few weeks before his 88th birthday. Five years prior to his death John had moved into the house owned by his daughter Robyn and her husband, and shortly thereafter signed a new Will leaving his entire estate to Robyn. What options are open to the remaining children to prevent being totally disinherited by this new Will?

  1. Mental Incompetence

After Robyn’s attorney files for a probate of the Will, the remaining children can contest the validity of the Will on the ground of mental incompetence. That is, they can try to persuade the judge that John Smith was suffering some a significant mental or psychological condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, so as to render him mentally incompetent to sign a valid Will.

This will not be an easy task. The bar for mental competency to sign a Will is not very high. Moreover, most courts put the burden of proof on the persons contesting the Will to prove incompetence. That is, if the evidence is equally balanced on each side, the judge will uphold the Will.

Another barrier to remaining siblings’ case is that they will have to prove that their father was incompetent at the precise time that he signed the Will. Many persons with Alzheimer’s disease have periodic moments of lucidity during the course of their disease, and even in the course of a single day.

  1. Undue Influence

Some courts recognize the doctrine of undue influence to contest the validity of a Will. Undue influence has defined as domination by the guilty party over the testator to such an extent that his free agency is destroyed and the will of another person substituted for that of the testator. In the situation described above, the siblings may be able to prove that Robyn isolated their father from his other children, and intimidated him to change his Will be suggesting that his food and medicine were totally dependent on Robyn’s good graces.

If the remaining siblings can prove either mental incompetence or undue influence, the judge can declare the Will invalid and order John Smith’s property equally divided among his surviving children.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Bendell Law Firm PLLC for their insight into contesting the validity of a will.


What Is The Definition of Probate?

What Does Probate Mean?

“Probate” is the term given to the process by which a will is dealt with in a court of law. During the time a will is in probate, an individual is named as the executor of the estate. This means that they are tasked with the responsibility to administer the estate which includes distributing the assets to those  named in the will or to the heirs.

Assets will enter probate if:

  • They are to be distributed according to a will.
  • There is no will or alternative form of ownership.

Assets that are not subject to probate are:

  • Any properties that were jointly owned.
  • Life insurance that has specifically named beneficiaries.
  • Assets that are belonging to an established living trust.

What Is the Importance of Probate?

Many people like to avoid having their will subject to probate for several reasons.

  • Because probate cases are of public record, anyone who would like access to the financial records of the family will have that access as they will be able to review any court records.
  • The probate process often involves an attorney which can be an unexpected expense.
  • The cost of probate itself can be high, as much as 5% of the estate’s value. This price will vary based on the complexity of the case.
  • The probate process can be lengthy.
  • During the time the will is in probate, no heirs will have access to any assets that they inherited.
  • The probate process often takes more than six months to complete.

Estate Planning to Avoid Probate

The process of estate planning is complex, and not one we want to think about. There comes a time, however, when we all need to work through end of life planning. A probate attorney may be able to help in planning for this type of occasion. Ensuring that you have adequately planned your estate not only provides you with a sense of relief but also eases the strain on your family when they are left to handle your estate.

It is possible to work ahead of time to reduce the portion of an estate that will be subject to probate. A few ways to do this are:

  • If you have real estate, consider a joint ownership with the person who you will give it to after you pass. The full title can then be transferred directly to that person, thereby avoiding probate.
  • Name beneficiaries for retirement plans and IRAs to keep these assets out of probate.
  • Create a “revocable living trust.” This is a trust you create while you are still alive. It is revocable and you can amend it as needed.

The Advantages of a Revocable Living Trust

There are many reasons for why such a trust is a popular choice for estate planning.

The trust clearly designates individuals and clearly describes how any assets are to be distributed and handled.

  • Your assets are put into the trust which you will be in charge of. You will be responsible for reporting any income of the trust on your yearly individual tax return.
  • Upon your death, the assets contained in the trust will be distributed as you have previously dictated.
  • A living trust works very similarly to how a will works, with the important difference that a trust is not subject to probate.

The goal of avoiding probate is just one of the many complex issues that can make estate planning a complicated process. However, ensuring that your estate is properly managed and cared for can be simplified with the assistance of an estate planning professional such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ locals turn to. Enlisting the aid of a professional is especially important if your estate is complex, or large.

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

What To Do With Estate Items Not Listed in Will


Going through your family member’s items after they pass can be an emotional task, especially while you are in the midst of grieving. You are likely now having to move your loved one’s belongings out of their home and into the hands of chosen beneficiaries. However, you may not be sure what to do if you come across estate items that were not assigned or listed in the will. Here are some tips that can help you decide where the remaining pieces will go.


#1 – Decide Which Items May Be Worth a Monetary Amount

Do some research on your own to find out if any items can sell for a significant amount of money. You can try online searches, visit antique stores and even call auction houses to inquire.


#2 – Hire a Professional Appraiser or Expert

If your search ends without much lead, try consulting with an expert or appraiser. These professionals can give you a realistic estimate of how much certain items may sell for, and which are not worth your time trying to market.


#3 – Allow Family Members to Have First Chance

This may be one of the most important aspects of handling estate items not listed in the will. Make it a point to contact family members so they have a chance to take any belongings of importance. It is likely that close family members will want a cherished object to have in memory of their loved one.


#4 – Host an Estate Sale

You can advertise online and in newspapers about hosting an estate sale on a chosen date and time. Estate sales can be popular because people understand you are trying to help clean out the home, and may be willing to sell items for a thrifty price. It may be sad to see some things go, but in the end it will be less you have to donate or find a way to dispose of down the line.

#5 – Hire a Moving Company to Clean Out

Movers Accokeek, MD, recommends can help you in a couple different ways; either they can assist in moving belongings or may offer much needed cleaning services. Some moving companies can package, dispose, recycle, donate and relocate items based on your needs. Having a professional move especially large, delicate or meaningful items may help alleviate your stress. You will already be dealing with plenty on your plate, so having the assistance of a company can take weight off your shoulders.


Do not be afraid to ask for help during this process from other family members. It can be taxing to deal with the loss of your loved one, in addition to clearing out a home that may have a great amount of sentimentality. It may be your childhood home, and taking on the responsibility of cleaning it out alone may become too wearing. Ask for help or hire others, and take a break when needed.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Suburban Solutions for their insight into moving services.