Estate Planning

Three Estate Planning Tips to Consider Before Traveling

Heading on a vacation of any length often requires significant planning. Frequently, individuals arrange things like who will water the plants, who will retrieve the mail, and who will feed the pets. While many people might not think about it, it is a wise idea for individuals who embark on a trip to also conduct estate planning before leaving home. In the case that an unexpected tragedy happens, these plans help to make sure that a person’s affairs are in order. This article will review some of the important estate planning tips that individuals must remember to follow before taking a vacation. Review Existing Plans If you have an existing estate plan, you should make sure to revise it before taking a vacation. Some of the events that require an estate plan to be updated include death, divorce, and marriage. These events can result in a person’s estate plan nominating an individual who will no longer be able to take on the responsibility, which is why it is a wise idea to make sure that an estate plan applies effectively to a person’s current situation. While many of these updates include removing beneficiaries who have died or become incapacitated, there     Read More

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Utilizing Burial Directions and Organ Donation in Your Estate Plan

One of the most important parts of successful estate planning is making sure that all possible issues are considered. While many people expect their estate planning to cover subjects like the distribution of their assets, it is also important to consider issues like burial, cremation, and organ donation. By fully addressing these issues in an estate plan, you can remove the chance that your loved ones will make a mistake by attempting to interpret your wishes. As a result, this article will consider two of the topics that are often left out of discussions about estate planning - funeral directions and organ donation. If you have any questions about either of these steps, discuss matters with an estate planning attorney. Be Sure to Document Your Funeral Plans The best way to inform loved ones about what you would like to have happen at your funeral is to write down a list of specific instructions in a document that is kept separate from other estate planning tools like trusts and wills. Some of the common concerns addressed by these plans include whether a person wants to be cremated, be buried, and have a funeral or memorial service, and where the person     Read More

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Are Inherited IRAs Protected From Creditors?

Most people who file for bankruptcy automatically think of their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and 401(k) accounts as the most common type of assets that are exempt from being lost in bankruptcy and kept safe from creditors. As a result, many people believe that they will be allowed to exit the bankruptcy process with their retirement accounts untouched, which will greatly facilitate making a fresh start. The answer, however, is much more complicated if an IRA is inherited. If a person inherits the IRA from a spouse, however, the IRA will not qualify as exempt from bankruptcy and as a result will subject to collection efforts from creditors. In 2014, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Clark v. Rameker that an inherited IRA someone other than a spouse is not classified as a bankruptcy exemption. In drawing the distinctions between inherited IRAs and participant owned IRAs, the court noted three differences - the beneficiary of an inherited IRA cannot make additional contributions to the account but a participant IRA, an inherited IRA beneficiary must take required minimum distributions from the account but an IRA owner can defer distribution until the age of 70 and ½, and     Read More

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Establishing Trusts When a Family has Debt

More than many other estate planning tools, trusts are capable of protecting a family’s assets for future generation. However, if either the person creating the trust or the beneficiary has debt, the trust will likely not be able to protect the assets from creditors. This means that if someone in the family files for bankruptcy, there is a risk that the trust could be seized for the repayment of debts. The Difference Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts The role of debt in the creation of a trust emphasizes the distinction between irrevocable and revocable trusts. A person who creates a revocable trust is in control of the trust until his or her death, which means that assets in this type of trust are considered property during the creator’s lifetime and will pass to beneficiaries after the creator’s death. Irrevocable trusts are not in control of the trust’s creator, but sometimes a “spendthrift”  provision can be added to the trust to protect it from creditor seizure if a beneficiary of the trust later files for bankruptcy. The Advantages of a Trust There are some distinct advantages to both irrevocable and revocable trusts. Irrevocable trusts offer the benefit of reducing estate tax,     Read More

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How to Find the Best Nursing Home for a Loved One

One of the many obstacles to helping a family member perform estate planning is that it is often difficult to accept that a loved needs extra care to survive. It is also a challenge to find a good nursing home for a loved one, particularly when statistics suggest that abuse and neglect are occurring at an increased rate all over the country. There are fortunately several signs that a nursing home is a safe and good fit for a loved one. It is important to weigh each potential nursing home against these criteria to make sure that a loved one ends up getting the best care possible. While the following are five signs of nursing home neglect, if you are interested in learning more, AARP has a list of 10. Sign # 1: Examine the Staff Culture It is important to examine how staff members at nursing homes interact with one another. If staff members are combative or passive with one another, this is likely how they will interact with the nursing home’s residents. The best nursing homes have staff that interact with one another in a pleasant manner. Sign # 2: What Activities do Residents Engage in? Empty corridors     Read More

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The Nature of Pet Trusts

Most people who have pets understand that a significant bond is created between the animal and its owner. Many people, however, fail to consider what to do if something happens to their animal after they die. Statistics suggest that over 500,000 animals each year are abandoned due to the death of the animal’s owner. With adequate planning, however, these pets can be protected. Some of the advantages of including a pet in an estate plan are that it helps to make sure there is someone to take care of the animal after the owner’s death. Also estate plans help to provide clear instructions about the animal’s care. There are fortunately several available methods for a person to make sure that their pet is care for after their death. Outright Gifts Some people decide to leave their pet as well as a gift of money or property for the care of their pet directly to a family member or friend. This gift is often made on the condition that the caregiver receives the assets on the condition that they be used to care for their pet. This option is often best for people who are certain that their chosen caregiver is     Read More

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The Role of Disinheritance Clauses in Estate Plans

There are many reasons why people are disinherited from obtaining another person’s assets through an estate plan. No matter the reason why a person wants to disinherit an individual, however, it is important to understand that disinheritance clauses are the most common and effective way to disinherit someone. Important Things to Understand About the Law To disinherit a person, it is essential to use clear language in estate planning documents. Sometimes, however, you might not be able to completely disinherit certain types of heirs. During a consultation, an attorney can help you determine if it is possible to disinherit the desired party. People Who Should Not be Disinherited Before making any changes to your will to disinherit a person, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, it is often not necessary to disinherit a person who is not a relative because that individual would not be to able to inherit under the laws of intestate succession. It is also a wise idea to refrain from disinheriting anyone who needs to handle certain matters after your death. Using a Disinheritance Clause for a Former Spouse If you have been involved in a divorce, but did not revise your     Read More

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Advice if You are Denied Medicaid Benefits

People who are denied Medicaid or have their benefits terminated are frequently left confused and uncertain about how to proceed. Fortunately, there are some measures that a person in this situation can take to preserve his or her rights. This article will review some of the important steps that a person should take after being denied Medicaid. Request an Administrative Hearing A person who receives Medicaid should make sure to request an administrative hearing within 45 days after being denied Medicaid or having Medicaid terminated. To request an administrative hearing, a person must complete an administrative hearing request form (MSC 0443) and submit the document to to the Department of Human Services. Continue Receiving Benefits Request forms allow a person to keep the same Medicaid benefits while waiting for a hearing. This can be done by selecting this option on the hearing request form. It is important to note that a person must request to continue receiving benefits within 10 days of Medicaid being terminated. Many people benefit from this decision because the rate of Medicaid reimbursement is frequently less than the private pay rate. Prepare for the Hearing Before a Medicaid hearing, states are required to review applications and     Read More

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Common Concerns of First Time Executors

Many people are not aware of the various responsibilities of an executor until they have been assigned to serve that role. The role of an executor often involves juggling various time demands as well as learning what the process entails. For executors who are uncertain about what their role entails, it is often a wise idea to speak with a knowledgeable probate attorney like Jim A Lyon, who has several decades of experience helping people navigate the executor process. It can also help to anticipate the various responsibilities of an executor, which is why this article will review some of the questions most commonly asked about the probate process. Do All Assets Proceed Through Probate? No. Not all assets proceed through the probate process. Some of the assets that rarely proceed through probate include assets held in trusts, retirement accounts, and property that is titled in certain ways. As a result, there some situations in which a person might not end up having to act as an executor. There are also some assets that an executor will not be tasked with overseeing. How Much is an Executor Personally Liable? During the probate process, an executor is held personally liable for     Read More

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Common Trust Mistakes

Many people use living or revocable trusts as part of their estate plans. Trusts are powerful estate planning tools that can help people achieve a variety of goals including avoiding probate and protecting beneficiaries. A large number of trusts are signed and then placed in a deposit box not to be looked at again for many years, which can create unintended obstacles. To make sure that your trust is used in the best manner possible, it is best to remain informed about the most common mistakes involving trusts. Not Properly Titling Assets in the Name of a Trust Because some assets may still be in your name after your death, it is critical to make sure that all assets are properly placed in you trust. In many cases, with the exception of qualified retirement funds, all assets should be transferred into your trust during your life. Assets that are properly placed in your trust will be distributed in accordance with the terms that you used to create your trust. Failing to Properly Update Your Trust It is critical that a person reviews his or her trust at least once a year to make sure that it still satisfies all needs.     Read More

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