Estate Administration

SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS REGARDING LIVING TRUSTS

SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS REGARDING LIVING TRUSTS: 1.  “They cost too much.”  A properly written and legally enforceable living trust typically has a higher initial price tag than what a will does. But, when you take into consideration the privacy, legally enforceable provisions that will protect your assets, and expeditiousness with regard to taking decisive action to safeguarding your interests, a living trust is a very worthwhile investment. In addition, living trusts address such contingencies as making arrangements to care for your (or your spouse) should you become incapacitated, the rights and duties of the acting trustee with protecting your real and personal property (if you’re unable to), and in carrying out your detailed instructions for the dispersal of your estate to your loved ones upon your death. Once more, living trusts are invaluable in that they can enable you to avoid both conservatorship court proceedings and probate altogether. 2.  “I’ll lose control of my assets!”  With you and/or your spouse acting as trustees of your own living trust, you have the unquestioned authority to do anything with your assets as you see fit. You can make purchases, open/close banks accounts, take extended vacations, appoint/remove designated trustees, and you can even dissolve your living trust at any time (as long as you can make your own decisions).  Plus, you alone control who (and at what time) will inherit from your estate. 3.  “Trusts are just for the ‘well-to-do.”  On the contrary, a living trust can provide protections for a wide range of estates.  Wealthy clients are able to avoid having to pay excessive income/estate taxes.  Families of modest means can...

So You Have Been Named Executor of An Estate – What Does It Mean?

An executor is a person named by a Will in charge of wrapping up the decedent’s estate and making sure that the wishes of the decedent are followed. Often, people name close friends or relatives as executors of their estate, reflecting on that person’s trustworthiness, reliability, and managerial ability. People named as an executor frequently feel a sense of validation or honor at their designation, recognizing that it is a big deal to be left in charge of someone’s Will—but perhaps not recognizing the staggering amount of responsibilities and potential liability that accompany this distinction. An executor’s duties are imposed upon them by the probate code, and though the task of concluding an estate seems simple on the surface, it can be fraught with complications. The marquee duty of an executor is known as a “fiduciary duty,” meaning that the executor must act honestly, in good faith, and in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the estate. Any breach of these duties may expose an executor to personal liability if the beneficiaries choose to sue—something few executors expect. A typical estate, without any complications, can still take up to one year or more to conclude. During this time, an executor can expect to doing the following: Paying debts of the Estate Paying taxes due by the Estate Distributing assets to beneficiaries Creating and managing Estate accounts for handling expenses File the Will with the probate court, follow filing deadlines and instructions, notifying beneficiaries and named parties It is important to distinguish the role of an executor from that of a trustee. A trustee is a different type of...

Estate Planning News – April 22nd, 2014 – IRA Inheritance

In this week’s Estate Planning News, our firm has highlighted the oft-overlooked area of Estate Planning and IRAs. We chose three articles that explain different IRA planning strategies, ideas, and perspectives on how IRAs can and should be used in an Estate Plan. Retirement accounts, in general, are governed by strict regulation and need to be handled carefully by well-informed parties. This digest should arm readers with information to adequately discuss their plans with a qualified professional. If You Are the Surviving Spouse of an IRA Owner – Fidelity.com If you are the spouse of an IRA owner who has named you as his or her beneficiary, it’s critical that you-and the owner of the IRA-understand the rules that govern IRA inheritances. Read More at https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/surviving-spouse-IRA Ed Slott and Company – IRA, Tax, Retirement Planning Articles, Insight Previously, same sex married couples did not have the spousal IRA benefits of opposite-sex married couples under the tax code. These benefits include the ability to make spousal IRA contributions, tax-free splitting of IRAs in a divorce, and spousal rollovers at death. However, the IRS recently issued guidance that gives same-sex married couples the spousal IRA benefits. Read More at http://www.theslottreport.com/2013/09/spousal-ira-rollovers-for-same-sex.html Understanding Who Should Be Beneficiary of Your IRA How To Turn A Modest Tax-Deferred Account Into Millions For Your Family How would you like to turn your modest tax-deferred account into millions for your family? Depending on whom you name as beneficiary, you can keep this money growing tax-deferred for not only your and your spouse’s lifetimes, but also for your children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes. Read More at...

Estate Planning News – April 14th, 2014

In this week’s inaugural edition of Estate Planning News, our firm has selected some helpful articles from around the web that cover problems commonly encountered by clients during the Estate Planning process: so our readers won’t make them! In an article from CNBC, authors highlight mistakes Estate Planning clients frequently make. The problems discussed occur all too often, as clients consistently regard Estate Planning as a “one-time” action rather than the lifelong process it ought to be. This is great reading for people who have not reviewed their estate plan recently. Along similar lines, Professor Gerry Beyer of Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog identifies the “Ostrich Syndrome” associated with Estate Planning, where clients do not want to begin the process because it is difficult to confront the questions associated with drafting a comprehensive plan. We wholeheartedly agree with him that this creates more problems than it solves. The article about an Estate Planning checklist is a good place for people overcoming the aforementioned “Ostrich Syndrome” to start when they realize they need a plan. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the steps that need to be taken when planning for the future, and having an easy-to-understand list of potential considerations is a big help. Finally, we conclude this week’s Estate Planning News with an interesting piece about digital assets and estate planning. In an age increasingly dependent on intangible assets and cloud technology, considering things like email accounts, subscriptions, and other digital property are often an afterthought when it comes to Estate Planning. Avoid the top 5 estate-planning blunders – CNBC.com CNBC.com Avoid the top 5 estate-planning blunders...