After someone dies, their remaining assets and property are identified and then distributed dependent upon existing instructions, legal mechanisms (such as trusts), and laws. This may bring to mind dramatic will readings held in wood-paneled rooms among a gathering of the family and friends of the deceased. In reality, the process is often straightforward and absent of shocking moments worthy of daytime soap operas.
However, it’s common for a portion of the process to take place in a courtroom—namely, probate court. The probate process takes different forms depending on how prepared someone’s estate was before they passed away. On the most general level its purpose is to validate an existing last will and testament, determine the executor of the estate, identify and locate the deceased’s assets, paying debts owed to creditors through estate assets, and then distributing remaining assets among inheritors.Read More
As with every year, there are certain law changes that are proposed and may or may not be enacted. Two very important and potentially very impactful issues have come to light in the last several months that may affect all estate plans in general. For clients of Family Estate Planning Law Group, please be sure to read on regarding our recommendations for reviewing and updating your estate plans as part of your client care program membership in light of these potential law changes.
The first potential change is the SECURE Act. The SECURE Act, or Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, contains 29 provisions with the goal of helping our country overcome the retirement crisis by seeking to prevent Americans from outliving their assets by increasing access to tax-advantaged accounts. This act was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year and will make sweeping changes to qualified retirement assets and procedures. To learn more about the act click here.Read More
The tiny home trend has become a very popular topic among retirees and millennials and those who want to downsize and spend less money. A tiny house might actually be a great idea for your aging parent(s) or if you want to change your living situation in retirement, there is less maintenance for the home since there is less square footage and in many cases it’s cheaper than a full-sized home.
Millennials are notorious for minimalist practices and trying to save money and retire comfortably or early (if you missed our article, New Millennial Retirement Method: Spending Nothing and Trying to Retire Decades Early, read it here). Millennials are also into the tiny house trend, yet another millennial trend that could be extremely beneficial if you are preparing to retire or trying to figure out what is next for your aging parents.Read More
It’s incredibly important to have documentation for everything that could happen to you or your estate, even if some of the documents deal with potentialities you’d rather not think about. Among those is a set of directives for health care should you or someone in your family not have the capability to express their own wishes.
This formal document is known as a living will, which differs from a last will and testament in that the latter deals with the distribution of remaining assets after someone’s death. A living will provides a lot of necessary direction should someone slip into a coma, become unresponsive in long-term care, or are incapacitated after a health issue such as a stroke. There can be added thoroughness to living wills as well, such as directives in cases of diseases that cause mental degradation like Alzheimer’s disease. The direction contained within a living will largely has to do with life-prolonging care. One of the hardest things a family member may have to do is determine when it’s better to let someone pass on than to continue living in an unresponsive state. A living will removes that burden from them by clearly expressing a person’s wishes for what should happen upon entering a dire medical state where they are rendered unable to communicate.Read More
Special needs trusts (SNTs) are a specific tool to be used in estate planning when parents have a child with physical, mental or developmental conditions that require persistent care and make it difficult for the child to support themselves. An SNT provides parents with a means to take care of their child after they are gone with the help of a trustee to manage the assets on their son or daughter’s behalf without jeopardizing any governmental benefits they are receiving now or may receive in the future.
If there is one overarching piece of advice across all estate planning, it’s ‘better sooner than later’ and this, too, applies to special needs trusts when they are applicable. But there are some timing considerations to keep in mind specifically with SNTs.Read More