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Advice on Avoiding Probate

Many people have heard of probate, and those who have heard of the word likely know that they want to avoid it. You also might be uncertain about why you should avoid probate, as well as what probate entails. Unfortunately, if probate is not properly anticipated, it can be unexpectedly costly as well as time-consuming. Here are some reasons why it can prove advantageous to create assets that bypass probate as well as the downside of what the process entails. What Probate Means Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone passes away. Overseen by a court, probate is a multi-step process. The probate process involves establishing in court that a deceased person’s will is valid and then identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property. Subsequently, property is assessed to determine its value. Afterward, any outstanding debts or taxes are paid off. Lastly, the remaining assets in the deceased person’s estate will be distributed either according to the terms of a will or according to state law if no will exists or a will has not been established as valid. The probate process involves a substantial amount of paperwork as well as the appearances of lawyers.  The purpose of [...]

2021-10-18T20:43:54+00:00Tags: , |

Tips to Reduce the Risk of an Estate Planning Crisis

Regardless of what assets you currently, it is a good idea to consider having some legal documents written to address what will happen when you become incapacitated or pass away. All too often, family members are left in a frantic and undesirable situation after a loved one passes away or has a medical crisis. The following are some helpful steps that you can follow to avoid creating an estate planning crisis for your loved ones. Created a Detailed Trust One of the best ways to avoid family disagreements after your passing is to create a living trust, which is a legal document that appoints a trustee, which is someone who will be responsible for your assets when you pass away or become incapacitated.  If you decide not to create a trust, the chances are much greater that your loved ones will end up in a disagreement about who should be responsible for managing your assets. When these matters must be resolved by a court, it results in additional fees for your estate. Your loved ones will have to wait much longer for a resolution and to collect any assets you have left for them.  If you choose to establish a [...]

2021-10-18T20:39:18+00:00Tags: |

Deciding Whether to Update Your Estate Plan

If your life changes for reasons like death, divorce, marriage, or birth, you should make sure to update your estate plan. Unfortunately, while many people appreciate the importance of updating their estate plans, a large number of people fail to do so. While it is tempting to think of written documents as written in stone, in reality, estate planning is an evolving process. After undergoing several life changes, some people find that the terms of their estate plan have changed so much that they no longer fit the creator’s situation. Reviewing your estate plan every few years is one of the best ways to ensure that your needs and goals are met. Review Distribution Terms To make sure that your asset distributions goals are satisfied, you should review the terms found in your last will and testament or revocable trust. These estate planning documents address how your assets will be distributed at the time that you pass away. As your children age, these provisions might need revision based on the particular facts of each child’s circumstances. For example, one child might have special needs or another child might have a gambling addiction and would have a difficult time preserving assets.  [...]

2021-10-18T20:34:38+00:00Tags: |

What You Need to Know About Qualified State Tuition Plans

If you or a loved one plans on contributing money to the education of a child or grandchild, a qualified state tuition plan is an excellent idea to make the most out of your contribution. Each state has certain plans that address how you can tackle contributions including savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. The Role of Section 529 Saving plans involve tax-sheltered contribution techniques which are permitted under the Internal Revenue Code’s Section 529. These plans receive favorable income tax treatment provided withdrawals are used for permissible reasons. Another attractive feature of 529 plans is that they combine five years of annual exclusion gifts to one year. This ability lets the person who creates the 529 plan give minors an early and significant start toward paying for college.  The contributions to 529 plans must be made in cash. If you select an option to make five years of annual exclusion gifts, you will not be able to make other types of contributions to the plan or any other annual exclusion gifts until another four years have passed.  Oklahoma is just one of many states that permit investors to utilize 529 plans. The Internal Revenue Service also now permits the [...]

2021-10-01T19:53:35+00:00Tags: , |

Not Keeping Estate Plans Current Can Destroy Your Planning Goals

Nearly half of Americans who are over the age of 55 do not have a will. Only 18% of people in this age range have the recommended legacy planning elements, which include advanced health care directives and powers of attorney. While it remains uncertain how many people fail to update their estate plan routinely, this is likely also a large number. Estate planners often must invest a great deal of energy to establish estate and wealth plans that fit a person’s needs and make sure that their estate goals work together. As clients’ situations change, however, they often fail to inform estate planning lawyers so that adequate changes can be made to the corresponding documents.  Life Changes Warrant Updating Your Estate Plan After the births of new family members, deaths of close loved ones, and even after a divorce, the best practice is to update your estate plan. Over time, parents’ relationships with their children will change. Children can also encounter various problems throughout life that alter the way that a parent wants assets to be distributed. Changes in a child’s life can also end up influencing that child’s ability to act as an agent or trustee of a parent’s [...]

2021-10-01T19:49:44+00:00Tags: |

What We Learn From Celebrities Who Have Failed to Estate Plan

At the time that he passed away, the award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had a limited estate plan. He only had a will that mentioned establishing a trust for his eldest son. Desiring his children to never become spoiled by large trust funds, however, Seymour Hoffman left the remainder of his estate to his girlfriend. Hoffman is far from the only celebrity who has made estate planning mistakes in recent history. Over the last few years, countless stories have emerged of actors, athletes, musicians, and other celebrities passing away without estate plans. Because estate planning laws must be followed by everyone — even famous people — intestate estates are ultimately distributed in a way that the deceased individual did not intend.  While you may not be a celebrity, there are some notable lessons to be learned from them about why you must make sure to adequately document your assets and establish an estate plan.  Crisis Planning It is a good idea to obtain the assistance of family members to help you navigate a crisis. Estate planning addresses what will happen if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated as well as what will happen after you pass away. If you are [...]

2021-09-09T15:17:45+00:00Tags: , |

Ways to Reduce the Risk of Family Disputes Over Estate Planning Issues

Losing a loved one is often a painful time that unites families and friends. Each family is different, however, and sometimes fights can arise regarding how the deceased individual’s estate is handled. While it can certainly be difficult and uncomfortable to think about the best ways to avoid family fights over an estate while a person is still alive, taking the time to do this can avoid unpleasant situations as well as reduce costs for friends and loved ones. The following are the most common fights that arise among families during the estate planning process. Someone Exerted “Undue” Control Over the Estate Owner In a legal sense, undue influence, occurs when someone coerces an individual into making decisions that are against their wishes but in the wishes of the person who is doing the coercing. Whether it is manipulation, influence, or any other type of abuse, it is not uncommon for people to exercise this type of power over others in order to profit financially. One of the best ways that you can avoid being a victim of such coercion is to place measures in your estate planning documents to protect both you and your assets from another individual who [...]

2021-08-26T20:36:42+00:00Tags: , |

Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Estate planning is one of the most difficult aspects of navigating the financial planning process. Among other complexities, no one likes to face the possibility that they will one day no longer be alive. Estate planning, however, is a critical process if you want to make sure that your assets are divided in the manner that you desire. MISTAKE: Not Estate Planning at All One of the most widespread problems with estate planning is that some people fail to engage in the process at all. There are various reasons why people decide not to engage in estate planning, such as the process’s complexity, a desire to avoid confronting mortality, and assuming that estate planning is unnecessary. In reality, most people can benefit from at least some type of estate planning.  MISTAKE: Believing You Do Not Have Enough Assets Many people fall into the trap of thinking that estate planning is only for people with a large number of assets. While it is true that some estate planning strategies should only be utilized by those with the largest estates, mostly all people can benefit from creating an estate plan. If a person does nothing else, writing a will is one method [...]

2021-08-26T20:35:43+00:00Tags: |

How to Tackle Estate Planning as a Married Person

Getting married is an exciting and memorable time in the lives of most people. As you prepare to get married or if you already have, there are likely some issues that you have only just begun to consider. There are some key details about estate planning that you should remember whether you recently got married or have been in a marriage for several decades. Be Open With Your Spouse One of the best places to begin when estate planning with your spouse is to be honest about your future and one another’s expectations. Not only does this include adequately planning for the future, but you should also make sure to address how you would like the situation handled if either one of you passed away.  Do Your Best to Equalize Estates People commonly overuse the marital deduction, which only ends up delaying the taxes that a person ends up facing. The spouse who is left with the couple’s estate should instead engage in some creative estate planning to reduce the amount of taxes that they will owe. Remember, a person can utilize the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption to pass some assets to a loved one without this amount [...]

2021-08-23T17:34:35+00:00Tags: , , , |

Helpful Estate Planning Tips for Clients with High-Net-Worth Estates

Regardless of the number of assets you own or your life situation, estate planning can be difficult. For high-net-worth individuals, however, estate planning can present some unique obstacles. Additionally, estate planning laws and taxes are constantly evolving, and it can be hard to keep up to date with these various changes. Here are some important estate planning tips to remember if you are an individual with a high-net-worth estate.  Recognize the Obstacles High-Net-Worth Individuals Commonly Face High-net-worth estates commonly encounter one of several estate planning obstacles. By understanding these challenges and planning for them in advance, it is often possible to avoid these hardships. Some of the obstacles you should consider include: Many high-net-worth individuals fail to revise the terms of their estate plans after major life events like births, marriages, and divorce. As a result, it is common for these individuals to end up with outdated estate plans.  If you own a business, create a detailed succession plan. While this might involve passing your business down to children, it could also involve a much more nuanced succession. Despite the value of adequate succession planning, not everyone takes these steps.  Because high-net-worth individuals often have a diverse set of income [...]

2021-08-16T20:04:06+00:00Tags: , |