Probate

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...

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....

Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples

As the previous posts demonstrate, estate planners still struggle with how to structure estate plans for married couples in order to accomplish both the tax and nontax objectives of such couples. Introducing the portability election into the arena has only made such choices even more varied. If you asked 10 different […] Read...

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...

“Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?” To Avoid a Do-it-Yourself Disaster!

Our firm frequently comes into contact with prospective clients who want to know why they should pay attorneys’ fees for an Estate Plan when they can produce “the same product,” for a fraction of the cost, by filling out a form online. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of being a DIY Estate Plan owner are common, as evidenced by a story in this month’s ABA Journal. In the article, Ann Aldrich used an “E-Z Form” to create a will which left all of her property to her sister, and then to her brother if her sister had already passed away. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? The client had simple wishes—why should she pay an attorney to memorialize something that only amounts to two lines of text? The answer is that even if the wishes are simple, drafting a document to ensure those wishes are followed can be complex. Ms. Aldrich didn’t know that a will should include a residuary clause, which directs how assets not specifically named in the will should be handled. Because the E-Z Form that Ms. Aldrich used did not contain this clause, a considerable amount of property was subject to disposition by the provisions of the law: not Ms. Aldrich’s wishes. When property isn’t mentioned in a will, it is disposed of according to the legal rules of intestacy applicable to that state, treating it as if Ms. Aldrich didn’t have a will at all when it comes to that property. The end result of this oversight was that the daughters of one of Ms. Aldrich’s brothers (who was long dead by the time of her...