Estate Planning

A SHORT LIST FOR WHY TRUSTS ARE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS THAN A WILL

    1. A living trust brings all of your assets together under one single estate plan with ONE set of instructions. This arrangement makes your wishes easier to carry out. Trusts are designed to facilitate the distribution of your estate in that it will be simplified, unambiguous, and clear-cut. Provisions made to ensure the correct titling of your assets/beneficiary designations from your retirement savings plans and life insurance policies are given the highest priority. This preemptive action guards against legal contests and family squabbles that can easily erupt due to poor estate planning. 2. A clearly written and legally correct living trust is a private matter which is not obligated to be a part of the public record, plus they are not easily prone to litigation (as wills frequently are). Probate is a court supervised set of procedures that are mandated by law to be carried out in public. Disappointed or disinherited heirs are free to retain counsel to contest the validity of your will, and to call into question your state of mind when you signed/executed it. In addition, opportunists with varying motivations and self-interests can gain easy access to your family’s personal and financial information. This results in unnecessary expenses, animosity, and delays in settling your estate. Having a trust in place bypasses this very real possibility entirely. 3. A trust can help you avoid court interference should you become incapacitated. Any reasonable person would much rather have their long-term care and assets managed privately by those they know and trust. Without having appointed a trustee/attorney beforehand, the probate court must become involved and appoint a...

WHY “DO IT YOURSELF/FILL IN THE BLANK” WILLS & TRUSTS OFTEN RESULT IN DISASTER

WHY “DO IT YOURSELF/FILL IN THE BLANK” WILLS & TRUSTS OFTEN RESULT IN DISASTER Retaining the services and expertise of an attorney who can assist you in preparing a smart estate plan requires a serious investment of time and money. The benefits (however) far outweigh whatever the upfront costs may be. Having the assurance and peace of mind that you and your family will be legally and financially protected in taking on the challenges of the future is inestimable. However, these guarantees vanish immediately when one chooses to forgo retaining experienced legal advice and opting for the “do-it-yourself” approach to estate planning. Many unpleasant scenarios and real potential dangers await those who want to save a few dollars in the short-term; and whose loved ones will probably end up having to pay tens of thousands of dollars correcting their mistakes. Everyone is unique. No two families are the same. The slick advertising that online legal services utilize (especially with using formercelebrity attorneys to pitch their offerings) cannot deny this simple fact: virtual legal document preparers that promise cheap, fill in the blank options for estate planning will never replace the professional, confidential relationship between a lawyer and his/her client. When circumstances require urgent technical advice and counsel, these do-it-yourself websites are of no use to a distraught client. Their staff is prohibited from rendering any kind of practical legal guidance to consumers. If you are making a terrible mistake in your estate planning, they can’t prevent you from doing so (the   unauthorized practice of law is a criminal offense in all 50 states). In addition, these online services...

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...

Samuel B. Ledwitz Joins the The National Advocates Top 100 Lawyers

Samuel B. Ledwitz Joins the The National Advocates Top 100 Lawyers Link to Samuel’s Profile at The National Advocates The National Advocates: Top 100 Lawyers is an invitation-only national organization composed of America’s Premier Lawyers. Membership is extended solely to a select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and profile as lawyers practicing in designated aspects of the law. Members of The National Advocates are carefully screened prior to receiving an invitation for membership. The criteria used in the evaluation process include, but are not limited to, the following: Reputation among peers, the judiciary, and the public The previous year’s achievements in the practice area of specialty Board Certifications in area of specialty Nominations received from leading lawyers, current members and/or our executive committee members Leadership and membership within other national and state lawyer or specialty organizations Rankings and ratings of the attorney by established associations or organizations The National Advocates’ mission is to promote excellence in the legal profession through advocacy training, marketing, networking and education of lawyers....

MISTAKEN IDEAS REGARDING ESTATE PLANNING

There is a great deal of confusion and mythology regarding estate planning. It’s a subject that healthy, busy people really don’t want to think about. Understandably, the thought of suddenly becoming unable to function (due to disease or a catastrophic illness) and needing to depend upon someone else, along with having to come to grips with the inevitability of death, can really be distressing. However, by taking methodical, concerted action by creating a well-advised estate plan, one can at least confront these unpleasant realities in a rational way.     The following are some examples of erroneous information some people have regarding estate planning:   1. “I don’t have a will and I don’t really own a lot of property, so what’s the problem if I die without one?” You DO have a problem. Without having a witnessed will that is also valid within your state, if you die as a single custodial parent, your surviving minor children run the chance of being taken care of by blood relatives of the probate court’s choosing—not yours. In addition, any remaining financial assets in your name will be evenly distributed to your immediate family members. Without a clear-cut estate plan, your surviving spouse may not have enough of your money to supplement his/her retirement income.   2. “If I become incapacitated, my executor will take care of everything.” WRONG . Your executor is someone you have designated in your will to carry out your wishes after you pass away. If you’re still alive, and find yourself in failing health, your executor can’t help you. With a smart estate plan, you can...