Starting a new job is an exciting new chapter in your life. Depending on your company’s onboarding process, there can be a lot of moving parts. You may feel overwhelmed by the introduction and review of the many different types of employee benefits. Not only are there forms to be filled out, they need to be filled out properly to ensure that your true financial and estate planning wishes are carried out.
Do you know that, according to the National Association of Home Builders, May is National Home Remodeling Month? Many people associate spring with cleaning out the old, brushing off the dirt accumulated from the long winter, and starting projects around the house that have been neglected for far too long.
After the death of a loved one, such as a parent, there are a variety of tasks that must be handled to wrap up your loved one’s final affairs. Selling your deceased loved one’s real estate is one of the more daunting ones. But before you call a real estate agent, you should take some time to get familiar with and consider a few of the key issues as you work through this process.
The chances of a married couple dying in a common accident or within a very short time of one another are probably quite slim. However, it does happen. And it happens frequently enough that most states have laws to address the issue and the problems that can arise from simultaneous deaths. What are these laws, why do we need them, and can we work around them if we need to?
It’s All in the Family: Understanding Common Legal Terms That Describe Loved Ones in Estate Planning
Using the correct terms is critical in wills, trusts, and other legal documents because words have significant implications. The wrong word can lead the courts to incorrectly interpret your documents and therefore cause an unintended result. Here are a few commonly confused words, their proper meanings, and some usage scenarios.
One common storyline in Hollywood movies is the rich father disinheriting the family outcast. The story usually traces the child’s attempts to win the father over and be considered a part of the family again. But can fiction imitate reality? Can you actually disinherit a child? The answer, in most circumstances, is yes. You can disinherit a child under most states’ laws, but you must understand the limitations and additional factors if you are considering this option.
When reading through a will or trust agreement, you may see language that grants a right to an individual to purchase certain property from the estate or trust at “fair market value.” At first glance, this phrase may seem a perfectly reasonable method of setting a suitable purchase price for a property to be sold at a later date. But a recent court case out of Virginia teaches an important lesson to those who have a will or a trust that relies solely on the term “fair market value” to set a future price of property.
Now, more than ever before, Americans are using a variety of tax-deferred accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs to save for retirement. And while the laws are currently designed so that people must start withdrawing the money when they retire, it is not uncommon for many of these accounts to still have significant value at the owner’s death.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), from 1986 through 2018, tens of millions of firearms were both manufactured in and imported into the United States. Where are those guns today? They are most likely filling gun safes, closets, nightstands, and desk drawers in homes all across this country. Regardless of whether you think that is a good thing, the fact remains that firearm ownership is very common in America. When you are handling a deceased loved one’s final affairs, you must consider the chance that your loved one owned one or more firearms at the time of death.
Most people think of probate (the process of collecting, managing, and distributing a deceased person’s money and property) as a private process. However, because wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means your nosy neighbor Nellie can simply go down to the courthouse or hop online and find out about your probate. Really.
A critical question to ask yourself when creating an estate plan is who will get your stuff when you pass on? While most people think about who they would like to receive the major items—homes, retirement accounts, savings—personal property such as jewelry, clothing, sports equipment, vehicles, and other possessions are often overlooked. The truth is that while some mementos and sentimental items may be very valuable to you, the people that you want to give them to at your death may not need or want them. Who, then, will get your remaining property and possessions if no one wants them?
When an individual passes away, tax issues are one of the many things that must be considered. For most individuals who pass away, a final income tax return must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state (if the particular state also taxes income) to settle any income tax liability that may exist.
Conversations about death and dying are rarely fun. Most people avoid them because they invoke feelings about our inevitable demise. Broaching this subject can be particularly difficult for parents and their adult children. Adult children may avoid bringing up the topic because they do not want to think about their parents’ mortality, and they may also want to avoid sounding as though they are waiting for their parents to die.
If a loved one has recently died or become mentally incapacitated, finding the person’s estate planning documents is essential. The estate planning process and associated documents are critical to making decisions on the loved one’s behalf, gaining access to accounts, and discovering your deceased loved one’s wishes regarding how to distribute the individual’s money and property.
Owning real estate continues to be a very popular investment vehicle for individuals and couples alike. One attractive feature of investing in real estate is that investment property can also double as a personal residence. In other cases, real estate investments may be rental, recreational, commercial, or farm properties. Whatever the case, it is important to understand that real estate can be owned in several ways, each of which has important legal consequences when it comes to leaving that real estate to your loved ones upon your death.
The death of a loved one is never easy. Regardless of your relationship with the deceased (blood relative, life partner, or close friend), you need space and time to process and grieve your loss. Once you have had time to cope with all that has happened, you should consider updating your estate plan in light of your loved one’s death.
When a family member or other loved one dies, grief and shock can sometimes be overwhelming. The last thing most people want to think about is making phone calls or funeral arrangements. Some things do not need to be done immediately, but there are some steps that should be taken soon after the loss of your loved one. We hope the following guide will help facilitate this process during a stressful and emotional time.
If you want to provide for a loved one who is disabled or has special needs when you are no longer here, care must be taken to ensure that the inheritance you leave will help rather than harm your loved one. An inheritance received outright could negatively impact your loved one if he or she is currently receiving government aid or benefits or will need to apply for aid in the future.
Even the most capable, well-intentioned successor trustees can make mistakes when managing affairs, however. Here are five surprisingly common mistakes along with steps to take to prevent them from happening.
When you create a living trust, you must name a successor trustee to take over for you if you are unable to act due to incapacity or death. It is crucial that this decision be given careful consideration and that the right person be selected for the job.
You just found out that your favorite aunt, Aunt Melba, has died. In the midst of your grief and sadness, you receive a notice from the attorney handling Aunt Melba’s affairs stating that you are a beneficiary. Your best friend advises you to get an attorney. What should you do? Will Aunt Melba’s attorney help you? After all, Aunt Melba’s attorney has been helping your family for years. Since this attorney knows Melba and the family affairs, shouldn’t her attorney be able to help you as well?
Timeshares have come a long way since they first arrived in the real estate market back in the ’70s. In the early days of timeshare ownership, high-pressure sales tactics, exceedingly vague contracts, and inflexible scheduling policies caused many people to quickly regret such purchases. Over time, however, timeshares have become more consumer-friendly with greater transparency in the terms of the contract, more flexibility in scheduling timeshare weeks, more diversity in the location of the vacation properties, and less pressure during the sales experience.
In early 2020, married actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson became honorary citizens of Greece. The president of Greece bestowed this honor upon them due in large part to their humanitarian work in the country after a deadly wildfire swept through Athens in 2018. Hanks and Wilson spend considerable time in Greece as it is one of their favorite spots for extended vacations, so when this honor was offered to them, they graciously accepted. Although neither of them gave up their US citizenship, there will nevertheless be important estate planning considerations that Hanks and Wilson must address.
Any US citizen with dual citizenship must be prepared to carefully consider a variety of complex legal issues when planning for death. This is particularly true if the dual citizen owns property in one or both countries.
Misconceptions about who needs an estate plan abound. Most people believe that estate planning is only for extremely wealthy business moguls or celebrities. But that could not be further from the truth. Estate planning is the process of making decisions about what happens to you, your money, and your property when you pass away or can no longer make decisions for yourself. Thus, estate planning should be standard practice for every adult age eighteen or older.
One way to think about estate planning is to compare it to a classic recipe you should have in your cooking repertoire by your twenties. Like that satisfying meal, your estate plan should have the right ingredients—or in this case, people.
The death of an iconic figure can sometimes impact us deeply because it reminds us of our shared humanity. With a celebrity’s passing, we realize that death is an equalizer. It also reminds us of the importance of estate planning to protect a person’s money and property. Estate planning is not reserved for those with large amounts of wealth or larger-than-life personalities. Life’s difficulties challenge all of us regardless of our relative fame or obscurity.
Gone are the days when you can write up a quick will or trust and be assured that everything you own will pass to your heirs or beneficiaries according to the terms of those legal documents. Instead, it has become critically important for families to understand both the laws applicable to wills and trusts and the complex laws governing retirement plans. Failure to understand these laws can exact a heavy price. The following are some of the crucial considerations if you end up inheriting a qualified retirement plan.
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Nothing can truly prepare a person for such a loss. However, dealing with the financial stress of frozen bank accounts can exacerbate the stress. Without proper planning, your significant other could struggle to gain access to your accounts. The frustration is especially distressing if the frozen account was the primary source for paying joint or household expenses.
It is natural to want to protect our loved ones no matter what. However, you may be finding it difficult to provide a prosperous future for your loved one if that person will be, is, or has been incarcerated. Unfortunately, this event will forever change your loved one’s life, but with the right planning, you may still be able to provide the kind of future you envision for your loved one.
Upon seeing the words medallion signature guarantee (MSG), you may envision some shiny grand medallion, signifying a level of greatness few attain. However, that is far from what this guarantee means. An MSG is a unique tool used to protect the transfer of certain accounts and property from fraudulent transfers and may be required during the transfer of certain stocks and bonds.
It can be hard to get motivated about your estate planning; it sounds about as fun as getting a root canal. However, you also probably want to make sure that your loved ones are protected and receive your hard-earned money and property – regardless of whether you have $10 million or $10,000.
Estate planning attorneys are occasionally asked by clients whether an estate plan can include a right of first refusal (ROFR) (sometimes called a first right of refusal) on certain items or parcels of property. The following example helps to illustrate the way this legal tool is used and why it might be useful in your own situation.
We collect stuff throughout our lives. This “stuff” is known as our personal property. Some items are valuable, like jewelry, baseball cards, and works of art. Other items are sentimental, like grandma’s tea set, old Christmas ornaments, and photographs. Regardless of the value, it is important that these items be distributed the way you want when you die. Consider the following to ensure that your wishes for your personal property are honored.
For many snowbirds, cooler weather means it is time to head south. If you are thinking about heading for warmer weather this winter, there are a few things you should…
Although it is rare for anyone to look forward to the passing of a loved one, many people cannot help wondering about a future inheritance. Often when a person dies and leaves money or property to heirs or beneficiaries, the first thing the heirs or beneficiaries want to know is the overall value of the estate.
The unpredictable can occur at any time: fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, pandemics—you name it. Because September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, we want you to be prepared for whatever life…
Estate Plan Issues for Parents with Minor Children – Naming an Adult as Beneficiary (and why you shouldn’t)
As we discussed in a prior blog, naming your minor children as beneficiaries of your assets can lead to some major problems, all of which are fixed by the living…
Many of our clients have minor children or other minor beneficiaries (e.g., nieces, nephews, godchildren) that they include in their estate plan. Our goal in advising these clients is to…
In recent news, presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed what he is referring to as the “For the 99.8% Act.” The purpose of this Act would…
One of the most common concerns we hear from clients who are parents with minor children is: How do I appoint a guardian for my children if I die while…
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