Why You Want To Prevent Probate

Planning for the guardianship of your friends and family in the occurrence of your death is one of the most personal and imperative tasks you will take on during your life. Trying to avoid the subject will only worsen the situation for your family while they are managing their loss. The lack of a comprehensive estate plan could cause a tremendous amount of stress and financial hardship for those you love most. It is irresponsible to go through life without an estate plan in place, especially since one can be created for you at a low cost and with very minimal effort and time.

Ideally, an estate plan should allow you to control your property while you are alive and healthy but allow you to plan for your loved ones in the case that you become disabled or die. Should you die, your estate plan should carry out your wishes and give what you want, to whom you want, when you want, and in the manner of you are choosing. You can control your assets long after you are gone.

Some people will tell you that probate is not as bad as it sounds. Those people are probably probate attorneys. The fact is, if you have over $75,000 of total assets, you should avoid probate at all costs. Probate is the Court-supervised process of gathering up the assets of a deceased person (called the “decedent”), paying the decedent’s final bills, and then distributing the decedent’s remaining assets in accordance with the decedent’s will (if they had one).

Probate is necessary when the decedent has left assets titled in his or her sole name. These assets may include houses, cars, bank accounts, and even life insurance policies or retirement funds. Many people believe that having a will avoids probate. Probate will be required if the decedent has not left a will and some states provide a “will” for those who chose not to make one through the intestacy statutes.

Hire a probate attorney and make sure the firm is specialized in the will and probate process.

Content Provided By: http://www.bassilaw.com/aop/San-Francisco-probate/

Estate Planning for Family Member with Special needs

The country’s population continues to grow at a fast rate. This is also true for the people diagnosed with mental and physical disabilities. This increases the chances of seeing families in need of an estate plan, and care for member of the family with special needs. There are a many tools available to these families, which can serve to provide long-term care of the individual after the death of his or her parents or caretaker.  It is also meant to provide tax benefits for expenses accumulated that come with the care of the special needs person.

Special Needs Trusts permit the caregiver of an individual with special needs to provide for the individual long after their death. The typical plan provides for a testamentary trust.  After the caretaker’s death, a trustee will be appointed the assets of the trust for the assistance of the special needs individual.   Special are is taken to make sure that nothing will disqualify the beneficiary from being eligible for benefits under certain governmental programs such as Medicaid and Social Security.

The terms of the Special Needs Trust will provide the trustee with good judgment to make distributions from income that is deemed essential or advisable for the satisfaction of the beneficiary’s special non-support needs. Special non-support needs should be defined as necessary to sustain the beneficiary’s good health, wellbeing, and welfare when, in the discretion of the trustee, those essentials are not being provided by any office, public agency, or department. It also is ok in the event that fundamentals are not being provided by other forms of income available to the beneficiary. A non-exclusive list should be included containing what special non-support needs may consist of.  These can include medical, dental, or diagnostic work or treatment in which funds are not available.  These could include plastic surgery or other non-necessary medical procedures, private rehabilitation, dental care, and recreation and transportation. It is crucial, however, to specify that compensation for such special needs can only be a supplement for governmental or private assistance. This is vital to ensure that the assets of the Special Needs Trust never prohibit the beneficiary’s eligibility for the government assistance that he or she may be getting at the current time.

One goal of a Special Needs Trust includes allowing the trustee to take whatever judicial or administrative steps may be necessary in order for the beneficiary to still qualify for public assistance. This also includes specifying that the beneficiary may not have control of the assets. The assets are not to be given to the beneficiary except in the trustee’s discretion.  The trustee needs to control assets in order for them to be working in the best interest of the beneficiary.

Many people worry about what will happen to their special needs loved one when they are deceased.  A Florida estate and probate attorney can help you implement a special needs trust in order to ensure the comfort and well-being of your loved one.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice.

Additional Legal Resources: The Fort Lauderdale Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas. Serving clients throughout Florida and in Fort Lauderdale.

I Haven’t Made A Will!

Give Me 10 Reasons Why I Need To Write A Will

A large proportion of the population have not made a Will. Many people either just don’t want to think about the possibility of their own death, or assume that if they die, what they own will go to the people they want. Unfortunately, in many cases, it won’t. Here are the ten most important reasons why you should make a Will.

1. Fundamentally, it is a matter of choice. If you make a Will, you decide what happens to what you own when you die. If you don’t write a Will, but die “intestate”, the general law makes the decision for you.

2. If you are married with children, your wife or husband will not necessarily inherit everything you own. Without making a Will, if your estate is large enough, part will go to your children, and part of what does benefit your wife or husband will be held in trust.

3. If you are married but have no children, without writing a Will, your wife or husband may have to share your estate with your closest relatives.

4. If you are you living with someone to whom you are not married, and haven’t made a Will, your partner will receive… apart from your share of any assets which you own jointly together… absolutely nothing.

5. If you have young children from a second marriage, and adult children from a previous one, without writing a Will, your second family may have to share your estate with your first.

6. If you are in a second marriage, with no children together, but with children from previous relationships, and don’t make a Will, one family will lose out very significantly in favour of the other.

7. If you have step-children, without making a Will, they will not inherit directly, but may inherit indirectly if your estate passes to your wife or husband.

8. If you are unmarried with no children, without writing a Will, your nearest relatives will inherit your estate, rather than the friends or charity you might prefer.

9. If you do not make a Will, you cannot decide who will have the responsibility for dealing with your estate after your death, or who will be trustees or guardians for your children.

10. If you don’t write a Will, you cannot decide the age at which your children should take control of anything they inherit from you. Many consider eighteen too young.

This is a general guide which cannot cover all possibilities, and there are many other reasons to make a Will. It isn’t hugely expensive, and it won’t kill you. The Wills team at Hedges will be happy to give you further advice.

Hedges Solicitors

Email: robert.keyes@hedgessolicitors.co.uk

Financial Consequences of a Husband

Some superstitions are harmless, like knocking on wood, carrying a rabbit?s foot or believing that if you get on a plane with your right foot, the plane won?t crash. I do this last one myself. Silly, but harmless.

Many superstitions fall into a different category where they affect other people and cause difficulties for them. For example, the millions of husbands who are superstitious about estate planning and, therefore, refuse to do it. Or do it partway but won?t complete the process.

Ed and his wife Cynthia, worked with an attorney to set up their estate plan. Ed signed all the documents except for one – the durable powers of attorney. The papers have been sitting on his desk for over a month.

Cynthia is angry and feels helpless because of Ed’s continued delay. She feels like a hostage to Ed’s superstition that if he signs the durable powers of attorney papers, which are necessary to complete the process, God is watching and will snuff him out.

If Ed can’t make medical or financial decisions for himself, Cynthia won’t be authorized to act on his behalf. Unless Ed signs the papers giving Cynthia the power to make those decisions, his adult children from his first marriage will be calling the shots, not always in Cynthia’s best interests.

?Ed signed the other papers but won?t sign the durable powers of attorney” Cynthia says. “He assures me he will, but when I remind him that the planning isn?t complete unless he does sign, he accuses me of nagging. He knows it?s not rational, but he says it makes him feel better.?

Is there any difference between that kind of thinking and not walking under a ladder, wearing garlic around your neck to protect you from vampires or crossing the street when you see a black cat?

When I was researching my book, I discovered in interviews that many men intentionally leave loose ends in their estate planning. Some men procrastinate; others have great intentions, but ‘forget’ to fund the trust. Most eventually get around to completing the process, but usually cause themselves and their wife unnecessary anxiety and frustration.

For example, William just kept ?forgetting? to fill out the papers to fund the revocable trust he and his wife Lila had set up. The lawyer reminded them that until a trust was funded with all their assets, the trust wasn’t legally in place. Consequently, if something happened to William, the trust couldn?t provide Lila with the legal or financial authority to act as the trustee.

When I interviewed William, he said he?d been busy, had other things on his mind and just never got around to it. He intended to make the transfers as soon as he had a minute. Ed’s lawyer offered to do it if Ed was busy. Ed refused and said he’d prefer to take care of it himself.

Meanwhile, Lila?s hands are tied because he doesn?t want her to take care of it either. ?My husband?s friend had a fatal heart attack on the tennis court the day after he and his wife signed their living trust,? she said. ?You try convincing my husband that the same won?t happen to him.?

Superstition is a powerful, if irrational and usually subconscious, belief that keeps many men from taking action to protect their wife in case they die. It presumes a causal relationship between something we do or don?t do and the outcome of some future event.

Wouldn’t we enjoy being that powerful. If only we were the center of the universe, where what we do matters on a cosmic scale. It?s comforting to think that a higher power is watching and rewarding or punishing, waiting until all the papers are in order and everything is signed before taking us away.

It sounds so simple and silly, but this kind of thinking is real and widespread. Unfortunately, superstition impacts the lives of too many wives whose husbands won?t follow through with the necessary arrangements to protect them in case they die.

Helga Hayse is author of “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial intimacy. She teaches women about participating and understanding their marital finances. She teaches financial and legal professionals how to stimulate legacy planning through Conversations from the Heart.
email: helga@financialintimacy.com

Everything You Must Know Before you Fill out Your Last Will and Testament Form

A Last Will and Testament is the legal document that controls the disposition of your property at death and may provide for guardianship for your children after your death. A will is not effective until death. As long as you are living, your will has no effect and no property or rights to property are transferred by it.   Your estate consists of all your property and personal belongings that you own or are entitled to possess at the time of your death. This includes real and personal property, cash, savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, and automobiles. Although the proceeds of insurance policies may be considered part of your estate in some states, a will does not change the designated beneficiaries of an insurance policy. The proceeds of an insurance policy will normally pass to the primary or secondary beneficiary designated on the face of the policy. Even if you do not have very much, you probably still have some things you would like to pass on to your loved ones. Your estate grows daily in value through repayment of mortgages, appreciation of real estate, stocks and other securities, possible inheritances from other relatives and other factors.   Avoid family disagreements. Many families struggle over who should get what. A will allows you to give your things to whomever you want, not to whomever a judge decides will get it.   SOME TERMS YOU SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH

ESTATE: All that one owns in real estate, personal property and other assets. EXECUTOR: The person appointed to manage the estate of a person who has died. Unless there is a valid objection, the judge will appoint the person named in the will to be the executor. This should be a competent person that you trust and who has the time to carry out the terms of your will. It can also be an attorney or a bank. GUARDIAN: A person who will take care of your minor child if the other parent is unable. Naming a guardian for your child only expresses your wishes. The court makes the final decision in the appointment of the guardian. HOLOGRAPHIC WILL: A handwritten Will that is written, dated and signed by the testator. (The person making the will.) INCAPACITY: Lacking the ability to understand one’s actions. INTESTATE: When a person dies without leaving a valid will. PROBATE: The process of proving a will is valid and then doing what was stated in the will. TESTATOR: A person who has written a will. BENEFICIARY: A person who receives property through a will is known as a beneficiary. SECONDARY BENEFICIARY: Those who inherit property in the event the primary beneficiary dies before you. CODICIL: A written modification to a person’s will, which must be dated, signed and witnessed just as a will would be, and must make some reference to the will it amends.

Any person may make a will who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and of sound mind. Being of sound mind means that you have the ability to understand the consequences of your actions. Your will can be challenged if someone feels you were not of sound mind when you made the will. In addition to being eighteen years old and of sound mind, in order for a will to be valid, it must be in writing, the testator (person making the will) must sign it, and, if typed, two or more witnesses are needed. Oral wills are not valid. Your legal residence is the state in which you have your true, fixed and permanent home, and to which, if you are temporarily absent, you intend to return. Voting, paying taxes, owning property and motor vehicle registration are some indications that one is a legal resident of a state. Your legal residence may affect where your will is probated and the amount of state inheritance or estate tax that may be paid at death. Generally speaking you are free to give your property to whomever you desire. However there are some exceptions. Most states have laws that entitle spouses to at least part of the other spouse’s estate. This statutory share ranges from 1/3 to 1/2 of the other spouse’s estate. Some states also provide shares of the estate to children of the decedent. Insurance proceeds and jointly owned property may be controlled by other provisions of the law.   A guardian should be named in a will to ensure that the minor children and their estates are cared for in the event that both parents should die. Your guardian should be chosen with great care as this person will be charged with the duty of raising your children and managing their legal affairs. Do not automatically assume that your parents or any other relative will be suitable guardians. A substitute guardian should also be chosen with the same care as the primary guardian just in case the primary guardian cannot serve in that capacity. This decision on your part will be of great assistance to the court in determining who will be granted custody of your children.  Joint bank accounts and real property held in the names of both husband and wife with right of survivorship usually pass to the survivor by law and not by the terms of the deceased’s will. There may be cases in which it is not to your advantage to hold property in this manner. When a person dies without a will (intestate) the property of the deceased is distributed according to a formula fixed by law. In other words, if you don’t have a will you don’t have any say as to how your property will be divided. Usually a person would prefer that all of his estate go to the surviving spouse. If there are any children under 18 the property cannot be delivered to them and a guardian must be appointed for them. Probate is the process of proving a will is valid. You must file the will with the clerk of the court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court approve the will and appoint an executor (or executrix, if female). The court will then determine if the will is valid. It usually costs less to administer an estate when a person leaves a will. A properly drafted will can take advantage of Federal and State tax laws.  You can change your will with a writing called a codicil . A codicil can add to, subtract from or modify the terms of the original will. Keep the codicil with the original will. Choose a safe place where someone else can find the will after you are gone. Someone you trust should know that the will exists and where it is located. A will does not have to be recorded or filed with anyone until after death. A will can be be deposited with the probate court for safe keeping.

LegalFormsBank.biz has been serving the online do-it-yourself legal community for over 5 years. I recommend getting your [last will and testament template] (link: http://legalformsbank.biz/will.asp) where you simply fill few blank spots, which you can edit and print on your computer or fill in with pen.

Information You Need To Know About Your Living Will

A living will gives your doctor permission to withdraw or even withhold life support systems under certain conditions. Filling out a living will form will declare that you desire to die a natural death, and that you do not want extraordinary medical treatment nor do you want hydration used to keep you alive if there is no hope for recovery.  Each and every one of us has what is called “patient’s rights”, as a patient you have the basic right to control the decisions about your medical care and treatment. This includes the right to declare to never be given artificial life support. If you are not competent or able to communicate you no longer have patient rights and the doctor will make your medical decisions for you. If you fill out a living will form before you become incapacitated you can designate some one to make decisions for you and write any decisions you`ve made about your medical treatment.  For a living will form to be legally effective you must meet 3 requirements. The first requirement is you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind when you sign it. The second requirement is your living will must contain specific statements. The third is you must sign your living will in front of two qualified witnesses then get it signed by either a notary public or the clerk of superior court.  The two witnesses are not allowed to be related to you or your spouse, they can not be people who will inherit property from you, you can not get your doctor or his/her fellow employee’s to sign it, and you can not have some one with a claim against you to sign it.  How you store your document is by putting the original copy in a safe place you can access, and giving every appropriate person who needs to know about your living will a copy.

Definitions: Artificial nutrition or hydration describes the use of feeding tubes or other invasive means to give someone food or water.

Extraordinary means or medical treatment includes any medical procedure which artificially postpones the moment of death by supporting or replacing a vital bodily function.

You are considered to be in a persistent vegetative – state if you have had a complete loss of self-aware cognition (you are a vegetable), and you will die soon without the use of extraordinary medical treatment or artificial nutrition or hydration.

Click these links to find your state’s [download printable online legal forms] (link: http://www.legalformsbank.biz/livingwill.asp).

How to Reduce Or Eliminate Your Estate Tax

I bet you probably didn’t know that your heirs might have to liquidate ( sell off ) your home or commercial/residential rental properties immediately after your death. This is unless you create an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust or ILIT.
I bet you probably didn’t know that your heirs might have to liquidate ( sell off ) your home or commercial/residential rental properties immediately after your death. This is unless you create an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust or ILIT.

Most people have the expectation of passing on their wealth to their children or spouse. With the demise of the baby boom generation approaching there will be an enormous transfer of wealth, the government plans to capture some of that wealth with the estate tax. The estate tax is imposed upon death.

As of now if your assets net worth is less than $1.5 million dollars your exempt from the Federal estate tax. For married couples, their exempt up to $3 million dollars. Unfortunately, any amount over the exemption will be taxed under the Federal Estate Tax, which is usually around 45%. This tax must be paid within nine months of the day of your death.

Since few estates hold enough cash to pay for the estate tax, you will be forced to start selling off assets to raise enough money to pay the estate tax on time. The time restraints can sometimes cause people to rush into unfavorable transactions.

Fortunately though, you can use an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust ( ILIT ) to reduce or eliminate your estate tax cost. ILIT’s can be used to generate enormous amounts of cash for your heirs, which you can use to pay the estate tax. When you purchase an ILIT the proceeds are not included in the estate of the insured. The proceeds are strictly for the decedent’s beneficiary, which completely avoids the estate tax. You get 100% of the money estate tax free.

Any ordinary life insurance policy is not the same as an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. An ILIT is estate tax free; a life insurance policy is taxed. This is because a life insurance policy is under the insured’s estate.

This article was brought to you by Legal Forms Bank .Biz. Download legal forms online. We have your state’s Living Will Form, and Last Will and Testament Form.

The Last Will And Testament – A Model NOT To Live By

The death of Anna Nicole Smith has at least one valuable outcome, even if it is simply serving as a model of what happens if you die intestate, i. e. without a last will and testament. One immediate point to take here, by the way, is the youth and vitality of the deceased. Few people who knew her, or knew about her, would have believed on that February morning that later that day they would hear that she was dead.

Wasn’t there something about, “Ye know not the day nor the hour”?

I may have the quote wrong, but you get my drift. It’s best to be prepared at any age if you have real concerns about what is going to happen to your estate, your heirs, or even your remains.

Even if you have not been purposefully following the televised “audition” as some are calling it, it has been hard to escape being exposed to some of the regretful details.

* Multiple claimants for the remains of Anna Nicole Smith – including her mother and at least two boyfriends.

* Multiple claimants for the custody of the child of Anna Nicole Smith – including her mother and at least two boyfriends.

* Multiple claims as to where the remains of Anna Nicole Smith should be buried.

The list goes on, but perhaps worst of all, is the complete uncertainty about the fate of her newborn daughter.

There are lawsuits in progress that may result in large sums of money.

While having an up-to-date last will and testament would not necessarily have solved all of these problems, it could have given the court a clearcut knowledge of her desires and wishes, and that is the ultimate goal of these proceedings…to determine the “will” of the deceased.

Looking at the time, expense, and trouble that this is costing the potential and possible heirs, would-be custodians, and supposed rightful mourners is bad enough, but realizing how much of this cost is being borne by the taxpayers of the state of Florida is adding insult to injury.

Okay, you and I don’t have millions of dollars to allocate upon our deaths, and we are sure that our mother, father, spouse, significant other, ___________ (fill in the blank) knows exactly what are wishes are. Do we really? Is it just and fair to assume that these people know who gets the money in the bank, who gets the house, or where we are to be interred. Is it to be the funeral of a veteran, or the burial of a civilian. Do we want to rest in that lovely cemetery beneath the pines overlooking that beautiful lake in northern Arizona, or ashes sprinkled over the Gulf of Mexico?

Years ago, my father died without a will. He and my mother owned the house they had paid for together over the years where my sister and I were raised. They had a shared bank account and some Certificates of Deposit which contained all the money they had been able to save out of both their paychecks. My mother’s only income was to be her (reduced) portion of my father’s retirement. Under the laws of the state of Florida, my sister and I had equal claim to all of that with our mother.

Fortunately, she had raised us right, and we signed over our rights to the estate without any hesitation or discussion, but, within our own extended family, we have seen the fights that can break out when the “will” of the deceased is not known, and we have seen the divisions and animosity that can develop between previously loving siblings and other family members.

Most of such results can be averted by simply drawing up a last will and testament and clearly stating your desires and wishes. While the services of an attorney, or at least a paralegal, can be invaluable, there are will forms and do-it-yourself last will and testament forms and software available for those who feel that an attorney may be too costly.

Whatever the discomfort of confronting the fact of death or the monetary cost now, however, having a last will and testament will often save a lot more expense and pain in the future.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, a member of Mensa, and is retired from the U. S. Army. Learn more about the importance of your last will and testament at http://legal-forms-supermarket.com/about/last_will_and_testament.html .

Remarriage and Estate Planning

Estate planning assumes significant importance in view of the above-mentioned conditions. If you apprehend facing a similar situation, it would be prudent to have a proper estate plan in order to overcome such complications. It would be best if you could do this just before remarriage, but even if you have already tied the knot, it is never too late. Firstly, both spouses need to sit together and formulate a plan about the estate. To begin with, both can prepare separate lists of assets that he/she is bringing into the marriage. Then you can share the lists and discuss the future financial issues that you will face as a couple.

For example, building a new house and the contributions each is going to make towards it. Retirement plans also need to be taken into consideration. It is vitally important to discuss how each would like his/her estate wishes to be carried out in the event of death of each spouse, especially with respect to children from previous marriages as well as the present one.

Make a list of life insurance policies each of you has with details of the company, death benefit amounts, and the beneficiaries and so on. Make sure that the name and other details of the beneficiaries are correct. Apart form the assets that may be acquired in the future, there may be inheritances that each spouse may have, which need to be disposed in favor of a particular set of children. There may also be a need to discuss the support of aged parents and whether suitable provisions need to be made in the estate plan.

It is best to take the help of an estate-planning attorney to prepare a formal estate plan. Where substantial property is involved in a remarriage situation, trust-based estate planning with two separate revocable living trusts, one for each spouse as grantor, is the correct way to go about it. Thus, each would have the right to sell, manage, spend, buy, invest or otherwise use the assets in his/her trust, even when the de jure owner will be the trust and not the individual person. When one spouse dies, his or her revocable trust is transformed into an irrevocable trust, with the surviving spouse having access to the income (even the corpus in certain cases), in addition to his/her own living trust. On the death of the second spouse the assets of the trust will be distributed to the grantors (first spouse) heirs and the assets of the other trust would be distributed among heirs of the second spouse/grantor.

While eliminating the complications discussed earlier in this article, trust formation in estate planning also leads to substantial tax benefits. It serves to avoid the costly, time consuming and tedious process of probate, allowing a much greater portion of your estate to be distributed among your loved ones instead of being wasted in taxes and undue legal expenditure.

California Tax Help is easier than ever with former IRS agent Murray and Young a Sacramento CPA Firm. To view our services and new articles for 2007 Estate Tax Planning please visit our award winning site http://www.april15.com.


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Estate Planning 101

Estate planning is planning to ensure that your final property and health care wishes are honored and that loved ones are provided for in your absence. The estate planning process should begin with you explaining to your attorney what you want to happen to your assets during your lifetime and at your death, then exploring the different options in which to accomplish your goals. During your initial consultation with an attorney, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire in which you list in detail your assets and describe your family structure. You should be prepared before you consult with your attorney because your estate plan is not a one size fits all type of product. You are in control of the way your assets are distributed and the family members or loved ones who will receive your property. Be sure to discuss your goals with your attorney. If your attorney does not know what is important to you, he or she will not be able to establish an estate plan that accomplishes your goals. Two areas are key when developing your estate plan: 1) preparation and 2) communication.

Your estate is made up of all of the assets that you own at your death. Your estate consists of real and personal property. Real property includes land, improvements to land and oil, gas and mineral interests. Personal property includes all property that is not real property. Some examples of personal property are: cash and bank accounts, clothing and personal effects, household furnishings, vehicles, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, and retirement benefits.

The development of a well drafted, well thought out estate plan takes preparation by you and good communication with your estate planning attorney. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of defining your goals and clearly stating those goals to your attorney.

The author of this article operates a website to help you find a Hillsboro Attorney and Lawyer. Visit this website to learn more about law in Hillsboro.