Does A Will Oversee the Distribution of All of Your Assets?

Are you thinking about using a will? It is one of the most important estate planning tools and yet is also one that is frequently overlooked by people who could benefit from a will and other estate planning strategies. One of the biggest myths about estate planning is that a will oversees the distribution of each one of your individual assets.

Estate Planning – Businesswoman hand pressing button on touch screen interface. Business, technology, internet concept. Stock Photo

A will allows you to establish how your belongings should be distributed. Whether it’s family heirlooms, a vehicle or something else, wills do have limitations, however. The will has control over the assets that are in the person’s individual name alone. If an owner has joint accounts or accounts listed with beneficiaries on them, the will has no controlling power over these accounts.

This is a lesson that many people have had to learn the hard way when their loved ones expected to receive benefits outlined for them in the will but instead, these materials were passed on according to the beneficiary designation forms filed directly with appropriate companies. Many different types of companies and accounts do use beneficiary designations that override what is established in the original will. These include retirement accounts, certain types of brokerage accounts and life insurance policies.

A regular review of the beneficiary designations on these policies is helpful for figuring out whether they are outdated or include a former spouse. Since the only information that those companies have to pass on your assets are in the form of beneficiary designations, you must protect yourself by regular review of these materials. Furthermore, you’ll want to establish a primary as well as a contingent beneficiary. The biggest reason for doing this is because if something happens to your primary beneficiary, you will want someone else to be able to receive those assets quickly and effectively.

 

 

Routine Estate Planning Check-Ups Should Happen Regardless of The Political Climate

People are always looking for good reasons to put off the process of estate planning, but one of these shouldn’t be the current political climate and the fact that it seems to alter and change relatively quickly. While it’s certainly true that you need to be informed about estate planning and tax planning issues, largely because of the fact that the political climate is constantly updating, routine estate planning check-ups should occur regardless.

Letting your estate planning documents lapse in terms of their accuracy could mean big consequences for you if you were to become incapacitated or challenges for your family members if you were to pass away suddenly. It is important to always update wills and health care documents specifically. The individuals named in these documents may no longer be accurate if details in your life have changed.

Physicians, such as a health care agent, guardian for the minor children, power of attorney, trustees on the testament to your irrevocable trust, trust protectors or trustee appointers should all be carefully considered and evaluated at least on an annual basis. If your relationship has changed with any of the people named, if your life situation has changed, if the life situation of any of those people has changed such that they would no longer be available, interested or capable of carrying out the roles or if all of the people that are mentioned are not geographically appropriate, these issues should be used to update your estate planning materials.

Furthermore, you will need to look into issues such as whether or not the amounts left to each beneficiary are still appropriate, how your relationship with each beneficiary has unfolded or needs to be updated and are any of the beneficiaries at risk when it comes to inheriting assets. When you account for all of these issues on an annual basis, you can be sure that your estate planning includes many of the most common issues that people overlook and issues that expose them and their family members to difficulties.

Should I Create My Will or Designate Beneficiaries First?

If you have a limited period of time or if you are concerned about accomplishing your estate planning tasks in a particular order, there are certain things you can do to make things easier on you as well as your loved ones. One of the first and most important task you should do is to designate beneficiaries on your financial accounts.

Certain bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies require you to designate a beneficiary. It is strongly recommended that you name a contingent as well as a primary beneficiary. This is because if something happens to the primary beneficiary, another person is able to step in and receive these assets right away.

 

Although it might seem very basic to designate beneficiaries in comparison with putting together a will, but designating beneficiaries is often more powerful than the will process because you can help to ensure that those assets don’t go through probate. Many people probably don’t know that many of the brokerages in the United States will allow you to attach a transfer on death instruction associated with your non-retirement account.

Transfer on death deeds can be used in real estate that is located in 27 different states. Consult directly with your experienced estate planning attorney to figure out what applies to you. After you have done this, you will want to outline all of your liabilities including your credit card debt, your mortgage and your loans.

A contact list of people that your family members can reach out to for assistance is also strongly recommended. Any of the professionals that you have used in the planning process such as your insurance agent, your attorney, your accountant and your financial advisor should all be included on a contact list with their name, business, contact details, and what services they provided. Even if you do already have an estate plan, it’s a good idea to work with an attorney on the estate planning process because you can avoid most common missteps and obstacles.

Why A Sudden Medical Diagnosis Makes End of Life Planning Important

A terminal or serious medical diagnosis can put a person in the position of realizing that they have far less time than expected to get their affairs in order. This raises important questions about the accuracy of your estate planning documents and important steps that you need to take to protect yourself as well as your loved ones.

You need to consider questions such as; what is the best way to leave assets to your heirs? Should you pay off your mortgage or leave it alone? A devastating medical diagnosis has ripple effects that can be felt throughout your family but giving into panic without planning can be a big mistake. When faced with disability or chronic disease, an experienced estate planning attorney should be contacted as soon as possible.

While it may be uncomfortable, awkward or even filled with guilt because you haven’t done enough planning in the past, it’s important to use a professional to bridge some of the most common issues. Estate planning usually does occur with an emotionally charged event, but all kinds of issues that you hadn’t previously considered might suddenly boil to the surface. Make sure that you have a notebook so that you can keep track of all of your documents, the questions you need to answer and personal details. 

Having all of this information in one place makes it much easier if you are suddenly unable to make decisions on your own behalf. You can allow a power of attorney or other agent to step in and get things tied up quickly. The first and most basic estate planning document is your will.

If you do not currently have one, a good place to start is making a list of all your assets including retirement accounts, real estate, and financial accounts. The will includes most of the important details related to things that do not have a beneficiary. Property is best spelled out in a will and this should always be done with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Plenty of celebrities have provided for case studies for what not to do when it comes estate planning and thankfully, you can avoid these obstacles by working directly with an experienced and dedicated lawyer.

 

Asset Protection Planning: Move Assets Off of Your Balance Sheets

If you are thinking about the best way to protect yourself, regardless of the current political laws surrounding estate and tax planning, it’s a good idea to engage with a lawyer who also has a background in asset protection planning.

Most people don’t understand what asset protection planning includes until it’s too late. Shielding your assets from creditors and predators in advance, however, is essential if you don’t want to learn the lesson the hard way.

As a client, you will want to consider all real estate, family business, investments accounts and life insurance interests by transferring them into a trust, if possible. Issues like a family business can complicate your estate planning significantly. Since a family business usually seen as a long-term investment, you might want to sell it into a trust. This will give an income stream to older people who want to give up the day to day operations and responsibilities of the business without losing all of their access to the security of the financial security provided by the asset. Business interests should typically be sold when the value is modest, so that growth can occur outside of the individual person’s estate. Selling off a business interest also allows for things known as valuation discounts, such that greater equity goes into the trust. Life insurance can also be sold into a trust in order to avoid three years look back issues.

In the event that you choose to gift life insurance into an irrevocable trust and pass away within three years, typically the internal revenue service will put that asset back into the estate, but a sale of the life insurance policy into a trust can avoid this problem. Finally, real estate can be sold into a trust for similar reasons as family businesses. asset protection lawyer

If you wait until a legal claim or issue has already come up, the options for really protecting your assets are much more limited. That’s why you need the support of an attorney months or years in advance.

Protecting these assets and also considering the different ways that a family business or an individual could be exposed to the risk of lawsuits and other challenges should be carefully considered with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney when you are planning to look forward into the future and to do as much as possible to prevent problems and personal liabilities.

 

New Study Shows That Many People Expect to Delay Retirement

Plenty of Americans have not started the process of retirement planning at all or admit that they feel that they are in over their head and haven’t set aside enough money. With increasing longevity numbers and rising cost of long term care, retirement planning has become increasingly important.

However, a new study completed by Northwestern Mutual indicates that many people expect to delay their retirement years as a result of financial concerns. This comes from the 2018 planning and progress study known as Living Long and Working Longer, which discusses some of the long term financial security threats currently facing the older generation. 

More than 2,000 adults were included in this study and 8 out of 10 people say they are somewhat or extremely concerned about being able to achieve an affordable retirement. Up to two-thirds of U.S. adults who responded in the study believes that it is possible that they will outlive their retirement savings.

A total of three quarters of Americans believe that it was only somewhat likely or not at all likely that social security benefits would be available when they retire. Unfortunately however, nearly half of adults who participated in the study said that they took no specific to prepare for the potential of outliving their individual savings.

However, one quarter of them did say that they had increased the amount of money they were putting aside each month. Less than 20% of people who responded in the survey had put together a financial plan to help get them to retirement and beyond.

More than half of the American people who responded in the study who anticipated living past the traditional retirement age said they had to so as a result of necessity, due to a lack of confidence in social security’s ability to protect their needs and inadequate savings.

Other concerns that came about as prominent in these responses included having to care for loved ones or rising health care costs. If you or someone you know has not thought carefully about how your retirement plan intersects with your estate plan, set aside time to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer.

 

Anthony Bourdain’s Will Could Be Open to Legal Dispute

A trust was initially created for the daughter of the celebrity chef who recently passed away. However, if the divorce wasn’t finalized, the ex-wife may be eligible to obtain one third of the estate. Details from his will reveal that his estate may be not have been as large as many people expected.

Documents were filed recently with Manhattan’s Surrogate Court, estimating that the estate was worth approximately $1.21 million. Some people estimated that he was worth as much as $16 million.

The 11-year-old daughter of Anthony Bourdain was listed as the primary beneficiary and the trust established will distribute assets to her when she is 25 and 30 years old and she will then be able to act as the balancer when she turns 35. Since Anthony Bourdain’s daughter is still a minor, a guardian will be selected by the court to ensure that the inheritance is safeguarded. Trusts that pay out over a period of time are extremely popular for young beneficiaries to ensure that they do not face the challenges of getting a big inheritance all at once. 

A beneficiary can benefit from the assets that are inside over the long run and this information can be especially helpful and valuable for someone who is thinking about drafting a trust.

A will can be contested if it appears to have been procured through undue influence or if the person signing it was not capable of understanding the act or the will itself, among other reasons.

Although Anthony Bourdain’s will might become subject to passing up majority of the assets inside to his wife from whom he was separated, this is an important lesson for people to sit down with their experienced estate planning attorney to verify that any separated spouses are excluded from these documents and that legal details have been addressed.

 

Can Probate Really Take as Long as Six Months?

One of the most common reasons for people to initiate the estate planning process early on is to avoid the process of probate. Probate is a public matter and one that can have substantial time and expense for your loved ones after you pass away. Not having a will or other estate planning tools means that your estate will transfer into probate. Any person who has to administer a deceased loved one’s estate knows that it can take up to six months after someone passes away or even longer in the event there are contests and challenges that emerge.

The word probate on a stamp on a big folder of paperwork

Assets that are governed by contracts, such as certain bank accounts and life insurance are governed by applicable roles inside the contract, but there are other assets that are governed by probate law. The value of contracts like bank accounts, real estate transfers and life insurance is triggered by death, and these have significant value related to affordability and speed. Probate process, however, can be extremely lengthy and frustrating largely because the primary purpose of probate is to ensure communication and fairness.

There is a great deal of grief associated with the passing of a family member, which means that other family members may become extremely impatient during probate administration. However, estate administration going through the probate process usually takes at least six months. The six-month period is because of the many different elements of closing on a person’s estate that needs to occur as soon as possible after someone passes away. Each of these stages, however, can take some time.

For example, all debts must be paid, all paperwork must be obtained and properly filed, and if someone comes forward to challenge the validity of the will or the estate itself, this can lead to additional challenges on behalf of the loved ones who were anticipating that probate would be closed out as soon as possible.

If you would like to streamline the probate administration process by conducting appropriate estate planning well in advance with the support of a lawyer, an estate planning attorney can walk you through every phase of what to anticipate and can help you avoid some of the most common missteps.

A lawyer can tell you the best strategies to use to avoid probate so that your loved ones can move on sooner rather than later.

 

What Makes Baby Boomer and Millennial Women Different with Regard to Wealth Planning?

Whether it’s planning for your own retirement or even setting aside time to think about your legacy plan with your estate, you need to ensure you have a lawyer to support you. Women in particular must be concerned about long-term needs because they often live longer and must factor in these additional years.

Far too many women are unprepared for retirement and especially for the risk of long-term care needs down the road. If their spouse passes away, the challenges can amplify.

A study recently completed by RBC Wealth Management indicated that there has been a major change in the attitude about wealth shared between millennials and the baby boomer generation. Approximately half of boomer women who participated in the study said that they took the lead on financial planning, whereas up to 72% of millennial women were responsible for this area of their households. This trend was consistent across charitable giving, will planning and day to day banking.

Friends Together at Beach

The wealthier the household, the higher the chances were that a woman was leading the financial planning and was actively involved in the legacy and estate planning. For those households that had greater than $5 million in investable assets, women were the primary decision maker. Key differences also recorded in the study between the two generations were shifts away from thinking about money as a method of providing security, and instead towards the opportunity to do more for the world. Approximately 41% of boomer women said they intended to pass on their wealth to their children, whereas only 15% of millennial women responded the same.

A total of 65% of women classified as millennials felt that it was their responsibility to use their wealth to benefit society at large compared with only 52% of women in the boomer category. Women who are wealthy as millennials are much more likely to have developed their wealth on their own when compared with boomer women. If you have recently found yourself in the position of needing the services provided by an experienced estate planning attorney, now is the time to schedule a consultation to talk about leaving behind a legacy, asset protection and other important issues connected to estate planning.

 

Stan Lee’s Elder Abuse Conflict Holds Lessons for Estate Planning

 

 Everyone can benefit from estate planning and every so often, there is a celebrity controversy or story that shows the challenges of financial predators and elder abuse. The 95-year-old creator of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, has a fortune apparently under attack from financial predators.

Los Angeles – USA – October 31, 2015: Stan Lee American comic book writer during Comikaze Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The creator of X-Men, Black Panther, Spiderman and the Fantastic Four has an estate that is valued at more than $50 million. However, his current memory, vision, and hearing impairments are being used to claim that he is unable to resist undue influence from caregivers, family members and business associates. Experts believe that increasing numbers of people who are closely connected to Lee will try manipulating him to get control of his assets.

Financial advisors and estate planning professionals have shared that this type of circumstance might become more prominent in coming years as people benefit from increased longevity and living into their nineties or hundreds, but might not have the mental faculties in order to manage their affairs effectively during this time period.

Estate planning accomplishes the overall picture about distributing someone’s wealth after their death, but all too often, skips out on later life planning and other issues connected with aging. Consolidation of financial accounts can help to ensure that the simpler balance sheet is easier to oversee, and appointing someone else to take over financial affairs, as well as using revocable trusts, are powerful tools for accomplishing the clients’ goals without putting them at risk of elder abuse.

Schedule a consultation today with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more about what you can do to protect your best interests.