Estate & Probate

Estate Planning Tips To Keep Your Money With Your Loved Ones

In managing your estate and keeping wealth in the family, it’s easy for things to go wrong. This is especially the case if the correct documentation is not in place or your desires are not clearly outlined in these documents. Luckily, this is avoidable so long as you give your estate plan proper attention.

By applying these estate planning tips to your unique situation you can remove worry, gain confidence, and keep your money with your loved ones long after your death.

Know the Difference Between a Will and a Trust
A fair amount of people cannot easily differentiate a will from a living trust. When managing their assets, they may not have the best solution for them in place. Knowing the difference between a will and a trust allows an individual to make the best decision for their estate so that their wealth is both accessible and easily distributed based on their exact wishes.

A will is a document that outlines what should happen with your assets after you pass. It also includes critical details such as your appointed executor, who will become the guardian of your children, how you’d like outstanding debts and taxes to be paid, and from what financial accounts both will be paid from.

With a will in place after your death, the executor can then pay any debts or taxes that remain in your name and distribute your assets to the listed beneficiaries.

A trust, although similar to a will, appoints a trustee to manage and distribute your property instead. Essentially, the trustee takes the place of the executor in interfacing with probate courts. This means that any property listed in a trust does not go through probate court, saving your loved one’s time and money.

A trust is a great option if you have a sizable estate or are concerned your beneficiaries won’t be wise with their inherited money. A living trust allows you to create certain stipulations, providing you with more control over your wealth. To prevent your property from entering probate court, and to clearly define conditions as to how you’d like your assets distributed, a living trust is a better option than that of a will.

Keep Your Designated Beneficiaries Up to Date
A beneficiary is someone you’ve named in your will or living trust and is the recipient of certain assets after your death. Assets a beneficiary may inherit vary; a specific financial amount,

property such as your home, car, or collectibles, or the funds stored in your retirement, checking, and/or savings accounts.

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Is A Trust Necessary?

Question: Some friends, who I’m sure are far wealthier than I, suggested creating a trust document for my assets. How do I know if this is appropriate for me?

Answer: Many high-net-worth people create trusts to help with estate and tax planning, yet there are other reasons for a trust. Trusts can be used to help retain control and management of assets in the event of disability, protect estate assets from creditors, maximize philanthropic giving, and avoid probate.

The 2017 Tax and Job Acts increased the exemption amounts for estate, gift and generation-skipping for tax purposes from $5 million to $11.8 million; in 2022 this increased to $12.06 million. With proper planning, the bill allows couples to have a combined gift and estate tax exemption amount of about $24.12 million to pass on free of federal estate taxes upon their death. Anything above that amount may be subject to a 40% tax rate. Since most of the population doesn’t fall into this high-net-worth category, let’s look at other reasons why establishing a trust might be beneficial.

A living or revocable trust can be used to retain control of your assets. As the trustee, you map out your inheritance plan and can make changes during your lifetime. At your passing, the trust cannot be changed and eliminates the possibility of undue influence from children, stepchildren, current or past spouses, and any external parties. Another reason for a trust is if there are young children or adults not yet ready to assume financial responsibility, a trust can ensure assets are not mismanaged or recklessly lost. Think of a trust as an umbrella of protection for assets to be controlled by a trustee of your choosing, rather than by your beneficiary, who may be influenced by others.

Protecting assets from creditors, divorce, litigation, and malpractice are additional scenarios to consider when creating or revisiting your estate plan. Asset protection planning discussions should be considered before they’re needed to protect your assets. Certain types of irrevocable trusts may allow assets to transfer and grow outside of your estate. It’s important to work with an estate planner familiar with tax law to determine if, and what type of trust(s) would be effective in your planning.

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Is My Ex-Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance?

If you are divorced, recently separated, or are considering divorce proceedings, you may be wondering if your ex-spouse is entitled to make a claim for any of your inheritance. In this article, we help to put you in the picture as to what you can expect in a number of instances related to divorce and inheritance.

Read on to see how things could affect you.

When inheritance is received during or before the marriage
If you received an inheritance before you were married and your ex-husband or wife benefitted from it, then it’s possible that your ex can make a claim on it. In cases where your inheritance was received during the marriage, inheritance can often be classed as ‘joint property’ or as a benefit to the family unit and your ex could therefore make a claim on it.

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Probate Funding: A Useful Option for So Many

Why is Probate Funding Needed?
Probate Funding is growing in importance due to the increasing percentage of the population (i.e. baby boomers) who die annually and have their Estates and/or Trusts go through probate administration. In theory, the process of distributing a Decedent’s estate should not be complicated. But in practice, administration is rarely quick and easy. Even simple or uncontested Probate administrations take no less than eight (8) months to a year to finalize, while the vast majority of administrations of Probate or Trust Estates take much longer.
Due to funding and short staffing issues, many Courts set hearings months out even on uncontested petitions. Quite often, because of questions relating to the admissibility of a Will, the location of intestate heirs, and/or questions

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