estate planning

Common Mistakes That Will Damage Your Estate Plan

Each estate plan has its weaknesses, but the best ones take their shortcomings into consideration. The less well-written estate plans leave substantial weaknesses that can jeopardize the outcome of a person’s estate. The following reviews some of the most common estate planning errors that people made in 2019 as well as reviews what you can do to avoid making them. # 1 - Naming Yourself as a Sole Trustee There are legitimate reasons why people are often instructed to name someone other than the trust’s creator as a trustee. Each year, many estate plans end up susceptible to unjust influence because a person becomes incapacitated and surrounding loved ones have less than noble motivations. One of the best ways to make sure that your trust is fairly administered is to name someone capable of responsibly acting as a trustee. # 2 - Receiving the Wrong Advice (or None at All) One of the best places to begin creating an estate plan is by considering who you can utilize to best achieve your goals. Estate planning teams should often include elder law attorneys as well as financial advisors who can make sure that you make the best financial actions. When receiving     Read More

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Reasons to Think Twice About Using a Joint Account in Your Estate Plan

On your quest to create the best estate plan possible, at some point, you might have been told by someone that joint accounts are an invaluable estate planning tool. After all, joint ownership allows you to avoid probate. Instead, when you own property as a joint tenant, both property owners have equal ownership in the property. This means that when you pass away, any assets that are jointly owned pass automatically to the other property owner.  While joint ownership does work in this way, this type of property ownership also presents many serious risks. As a result, it is a good idea to be cautious when thinking about jointly titling property. Estate Planning Goals May Not be Achieved After you pass away, the joint owner will receive sole rights over any property that you own. This means that the joint owner will be able to use the funds or property in any way that he or she sees fit. Not to mention, creditors of the other party will now be able to seize your assets. Consequently, there are several ways that your assets might be used or spent before they can achieve any goals that you had for your estate     Read More

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Passing on Assets to People with Special Needs

As the year comes to an end and the holidays approach, many people consider making gifts to their loved ones. Not only is passing assets on an excellent way to show your love and consideration for your family members, but it is also a great strategy to reduce the risk of taxes. This is because current federal tax law allows taxpayers to gift amounts of up to $15,000 each year to a recipient without this being counted against a person’s lifetime gift exemption of $11.4 million.  There is also no better time than the present to make these distributions because the $11.4 million threshold will reduce to $5.49 million in 2026. This article reviews some special considerations that you should remember to follow, however, if you decide to transfer assets to a loved one with special needs. Anticipate the Risks If not properly navigated, passing on assets to loved ones with special needs can end up interfering with that person’s eligibility for government benefits. This is not the only risk involved with transferring assets, though. Even if a loved one does not receive Social Security Insurance or Medicaid, directly transferring assets might still not be a good idea if one     Read More

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Three Critical Estate Planning Considerations for Business Owners

Creating a business presents many challenges. While you are likely worried about day-to-day financial issues including printing payroll and collecting on unpaid debts, there are several other critical factors that you should consider like estate planning.  If your business is part of your estate plan, you should focus on how to best protect the business’s legacy as well as how to make sure that your family and loved ones are financially secure.  Without adequate estate planning, there is no guarantee that you wishes will be carried out. To make sure that your goals are fully achieved, it can be helpful to retain the services of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.  Make Sure You Cover the Basics Regardless of the size of your business, it is important to have several critical estate planning documents, which include: A healthcare power of attorney to appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions for you in case you become incapacitated A financial power of attorney to appoint someone to handle your finances in case you are incapacitated A will that expresses how your assets should be distributed following your death Before creating an estate plan for your business, you should make sure that you have     Read More

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Alzheimer’s and Your Estate Plan: Three Celebrity Lessons

Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Today Dementia refers to several symptoms including memory loss, foggy thinking, and a decline in problem-solving abilities. Several conditions that can result in dementia include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s Disease.  While it can be frightening to think of a time when dementia impacts your ability to make a decision, if you fail to plan for the future, there is a risk that you might end up placing your estate at risk. Unfortunately, after dementia reaches a point where you are unable to control your assets, you will no longer be able to alter your estate plan.  In these situations, the only options that your family has to file for guardianship. To help reduce the risk that you make an estate planning error, this article reviews three lessons learned from how the estates of celebrities with Alzheimer’s were administered. Glen Campbell Glen Campbell first admitted to the public that he had Alzheimer’s in 2011. When Campbell later passed away in 2017, he left eight children and a widow. Even though several of Campbell’s children sued over the administration of the estate, it was later determined that Campbell’s estate planning documents were valid because he     Read More

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What to do Now That You Have an Estate Plan

If you have finally made the substantial step of creating an estate plan, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are done planning for the future. In reality, you are not finished yet. Instead, there are several important steps that you should take to make sure that your estate plans are properly maintained. Monitor Asset Ownership Your estate plan should consider how you own your assets. In many cases, you will likely want your loved ones to be able to easily access your assets in case something suddenly happens to you. It might be a good idea to create joint ownership with accounts or take other efforts to define who can access details about your accounts. Regardless of what options you choose, it is important to understand that asset management is often one of the most critical issues following a person’s death or incapacity. Monitor Beneficiary Designations Beneficiary designations are important for deciding how assets that are not included in your will pass on to beneficiaries. Some of the most common accounts where beneficiary designations are found include 401(k)s and IRAs. It is a good idea to routinely check beneficiary designations to make sure that     Read More

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How Life Insurance can Help After a Divorce

A large number of marriages do not last. Not only is the ensuing divorce process emotionally challenging, but it also introduces many stressful challenges. One often overlooked complication that many people must navigate during this time involves estate planning. One particularly helpful strategy that can be utilized during this time is obtaining life insurance. The following will take a brief look at some of the benefits that people realize through the use of life insurance during this difficult time. Provide Funds for the Divorce Process If a divorce involves hostile partners or includes child custody issues, the process can take an extended time. During this time, it is common to incur several fees. If you have an established life insurance policy, it is possible to take withdrawals or loans from the policy’s cash value to pay for these expenses. If the policy is designed effectively, clients will not be required to liquidate other assets or pull money from an estate that would have been passed on to beneficiaries.  Protect Your Income After a Divorce It is common to discover that your income substantially changes after a divorce. To help the lower-earning spouse transition to life after divorce, courts award alimony     Read More

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Techniques to Strengthen Your Estate Plan

If a person passes away in Oklahoma without an adequate estate plan, established Oklahoma probate laws will determine how the person’s estate is divided. Despite this fact, many people pass away without creating adequate estate plans.  If you have created an estate plan, however, it is often not the case that there are no additional steps to take. The following will break down some important strategies you should utilize to further strengthen your estate plan. Keep Beneficiary Designations Up to Date Probate is a costly and lengthy process, but there are fortunately some types of accounts that can be passed on without having to go through this process. Instead, these assets are passed in terms of beneficiary designations. As far as beneficiary designations are concerned, it is often possible to divide accounts.  It is often a good idea to review these forms every few years particularly after major events like births, deaths, or divorces occur. By making sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date, you can make sure that your assets properly transferred to your loved ones. Utilize Life Insurance  Life insurance exists for several reasons including to protect against the loss of income in case someone passes     Read More

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How to Make Sure Estate Planning Wishes are Carried Out

When tasked with estate planning, individuals with many assets often face unique challenges, which include planning for how certain assets will be passed on to subsequent generations. Many people discover that they have a variety of questions regarding how to best handle their assets. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you think about how your assets should be handled as well as how to ensure your beneficiaries receive everything to which they are entitled.  This article reviews some strategies that individuals with large estates should consider implementing to make sure that their wishes are fully carried out. Have Conversations About How Assets Should be Handled One of the biggest challenges that individuals have regarding estate planning is that they are never sure how to bring up the conversation with their family and loved ones. In reality, it is never too early to begin having conversations with your loved ones about estate planning.  When you do have these conversations, you should make sure that they include everyone who might be involved in your estate. Many individuals with large estate choose to make estate planning lawyers, wealth advisors, and other estate planning professionals part of these conversations, as well.  The goal     Read More

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New Parents Need Wills

It is understandable that as a new parent, you want the best possible life for your child. Among the many things that new parents think about, wills are often one of the last. In reality, though, creating a will is an important step to take for your family’s future. The following will review just a few of the important things that new parents need to know about wills. Always Make Sure to Clearly State Your Intentions Wills, as well as other estate planning documents, are best viewed as instruction manuals for your executor and the court to follow after your death. You must clearly express your intentions regarding your wishes, or a New York court will likely interpret how your estate should be administered.  Beneficiaries on Financial Accounts Play an Important Role Most financial accounts allow a person to name a beneficiary. After you pass away, the funds pass to the beneficiary who is named on the account. If you create a will with a child in mind, it is a good idea to review your financial accounts to make sure that you have not named any inconsistent beneficiaries elsewhere. Name an Executor You can Trust To make sure that     Read More

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