Estate Planning

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: , |

Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid if You are in a Second Marriage With Children

Second marriages are often rife with challenges. Whether it is coping with the end of a marriage, rebuilding a career that was put on pause, or blending families, you will likely feel overwhelmed for a time, but it is still important to consider what will happen to your assets when you pass on. It is rarely possible to create an estate plan with which everyone in your family agrees, though. Regardless, you should still do your best to avoid some of the most common estate planning errors committed by people who enter into second marriages and who have children. Here are  some critical estate planning errors that you should avoid if you are in such a situation.  NOT Routinely Reviewing (and Revising) Your Estate Plan Unfortunately, some people never change their estate planning documents, even after major events like births, marriage, or divorces. In second marriages, this might mean that your first spouse is still named in your estate planning documents. By changing your beneficiary designations, you can make sure that your assets pass on in the intended manner. While you are reviewing estate planning documents and beneficiary designations, it is just as important to make sure that your medical [...]

2021-08-16T19:59:25+00:00Tags: |

Estate Planning Steps You Must Take After Your Spouse Passes Away

One of the most challenging moments in the lives of many people are the days and weeks following the loss of a loved one. If you find yourself in such a situation, it helps to understand what tasks you must achieve. This article reviews some of the most important things that a person must remember to do after their spouse passes away. Before taking any of these steps, however, you should make sure to collect financial records, bank accounts, tax returns, insurance policies, mortgages, debts, and other statements.  Close Bank Accounts When the Time is Right Some people postpone closing a bank account that is only titled in a deceased individual’s name. If you close a bank account that is receiving Social Security too soon, payments for the month of death might be reversed and lead to a negative balance.  Contact Your Spouse’s Life Insurance Carrier Before making a call to the company that holds your spouse’s life insurance, you should make sure that you have all of the necessary documents in order. You should also understand what benefit options are available because there is frequently more than one way that a surviving spouse can claim a life insurance benefit.  [...]

2021-08-16T20:04:31+00:00Tags: |

You are Never Too Young to Start Estate Planning 

Most people between their 20s to 40s think that they have their entire lives ahead of them. For this reason, most younger individuals do not engage in estate planning. Sadly, many older individuals hesitate to put together their estate plans. No matter how old you are, though, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from putting together a solid estate plan.  There are several good reasons why a younger person should have an estate plan in place that includes an advance health care directive, a durable power of attorney, and a will and last testament, for starters. In the hopes of convincing younger individuals to engage in estate planning sooner, the following are some of the tricky situations that can be avoided by adequately planning for the future today.  The Capacity to Choose One of the most common reasons why people decline to create a will is that they believe they do not have enough assets to justify needing a will and last testament in order to pass them on. Another common reason why people decline to create an estate plan is they are not married and do not have kids, so they believe it is not important [...]

2021-07-23T15:18:30+00:00Tags: |

Estate Planning Challenges That Come With Cohabitation

Cohabitation without marriage has become an increasingly common way of life for people in the United States. For older individuals, cohabitation is often intended to be a way to enjoy the companionship of another without risking losing assets for the future generation. While attempting to preserve assets, however, cohabiting couples frequently overlook common pitfalls when putting together their estate plans. The following are some estate planning challenges that go hand-in-hand with cohabitation.  Challenges Involving Medicaid Cohabitation does not offer the same protections under Medicaid rules as marriage. Under Medicaid rules, a person must have less than $2,000 in resources to qualify for Medicaid. Some exceptions, however, exist to this rule which permit the protection of assets. One exception to this limit involves community spouses. When a person is institutionalized at a facility, the spouse who still resides at home cannot end up destitute. Substantial allowances are permitted for community spouses. Community spouse exemptions do not include unmarried partners who lived together. Allowances are only for spouses.  Lack of Legal Protection When a cohabiting person passes away, no legal system exists to protect the surviving cohabitor as if they were a surviving spouse. After all, when a married person passes away, [...]

2021-07-23T15:10:47+00:00Tags: , |

Challenges With Naming Minors as Beneficiaries

It is a natural impulse to want to name children, grandchildren, or other descendants to inherit a portion of assets in your estate plan. The naming of a minor beneficiary directly on an account, however, can create unforeseen challenges with your estate plan. The following reviews some helpful reminders about naming minors as beneficiaries as well as why you might want to consider other options. Unintended Consequences Might Ruin Your Plans Clients often assume that their estate plan is complete after they have signed their will and trust. These clients will often then proceed to name the same beneficiary on all of their estate planning documents. If you name a minor as a beneficiary, some substantial and undesirable situations might occur. For example, assets might require the appointment of a conservator, which can lead to a time-consuming and costly process.  The person appointed by the court to act in such a role also might not be the same individual that you would want controlling your assets. Additionally, many jurisdictions require an inventory as well as annual accountancy to be filed with the court even if the conservator is a parent of the minor. Assets held in a conservatorship then pass [...]

2021-06-18T00:54:50+00:00Tags: |