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If You’ve Been Asked To Serve As Trustee, Here’s What You Should Know

If a family member or friend has asked you to serve as trustee for their trust either during their life, or upon their death, it’s a big honor—this means they consider you among the most honest, reliable, and responsible people they know.

That said, serving as a trustee is not only a great honor, it’s also a major responsibility, and the role is definitely not for everyone. Serving as a trustee entails a broad array of duties, and you are both ethically and legally required to properly execute those duties or you could face liability for not doing so.

In the end, your responsibility as a trustee will vary greatly depending on the size of the estate, the type of assets covered by the trust, how many beneficiaries there are, and the document’s terms. In light of this, you should carefully review the specifics of the trust you would be managing before making your decision to serve.

Remember, you don’t have to take the job. That said, depending on who...

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How To Pass On Family Heirlooms & Keepsakes Without Causing A Family Feud

 

When creating an estate plan, people are often most concerned with passing on the “big things” like real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles. Yet these possessions very often aren’t the items that have the most meaning for the loved ones we leave behind.

 

Smaller items, like family heirlooms and keepsakes, which may not have a high dollar value, frequently have the most sentimental value for our family members. But for a number of reasons, these personal possessions are often not specifically accounted for in wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. 

 

However, it’s critical that you don’t overlook this type of property in your estate plan, as the distribution of such items can become a source of intense conflict and strife for those you leave behind. In fact, if you don’t properly address family heirlooms and keepsakes in your estate plan, it can lead to long-lasting disagreements that can tear your family apart....

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10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Your Family Can’t Afford to Make—Part 2

 Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind. 

To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms. 

In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity, along with knowing how it applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious...

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10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Your Family Can’t Afford to Make—Part 1

 

Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and chronic disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind. 

To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms. 

In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity and applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious mistakes when...

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Protect Your Children’s Inheritance With A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust

 

As a parent, you’re likely hoping to leave your children an inheritance. In fact, doing so may be one of the primary factors motivating your life’s work. But without taking the proper precautions, the wealth you pass on is at serious risk of being accidentally lost or squandered due to common life events, such as divorce, serious debt, devastating illness, and unfortunate accidents. 

 

In some cases, a sudden inheritance windfall can even wind up doing your kids more harm than good.

 

Creating a will or a revocable living trust offers some protection for your kid’s inheritance, but in most cases, you’ll be guided to distribute assets through your will or trust to your children at specific ages and stages, such as one-third at age 25, half the balance at 30, and the rest at 35.

 

If you’ve created an estate plan, check to see if this is how your will or trust leaves assets to your children. If so, you may not have been told...

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Probate: What It Is & How To Avoid It—Part 2

Unless you’ve created an estate plan that works to keep your family out of court, when you die (or become incapacitated) many of your assets must go through probate before those assets can be distributed to your heirs. Like most court proceedings, probate can be time-consuming, costly, and open to the public, and because of this, avoiding probate—and keeping your family out of court—is often a central goal of estate planning. 

 

To spare your loved one’s the time, cost, and stress inherent to probate, last week in part one of this series, we explained how the probate process works and what it would entail for your loved ones. Here in part two, we’ll discuss the major drawbacks of probate for your family, and outline the different ways you can help them avoid probate with wise planning. (See what you missed in Part one!)

 

What’s At Stake For Your Family
Probate court proceedings can take months, and sometimes even years, to...

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Probate: What It Is & How To Avoid It—Part 1

Uncategorized May 03, 2022

 

Unless you’ve created a proper estate plan, when you die many of your assets must first pass through the court process known as probate before those assets can be distributed to your heirs. Like most court proceedings, probate can be time-consuming, costly, and open to the public, and because of this, avoiding probate—and keeping your family out of court—is a central goal of most estate plans. 

 

During probate, the court supervises a number of different legal actions, all of which are aimed at finalizing your affairs and settling your estate. Although we’ll discuss them more in-depth below, probate typically consists of the following processes:

 

  • Determining the validity of your will (if you have one).
  • Appointing an executor or administrator to manage the probate process and settle your estate.
  • Locating and valuing all of your assets.
  • Notifying & paying your creditors.
  • Filing & paying your taxes.
  • Distributing your assets to the...
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How Naming Guardians For Your Kids In Your Will Can Leave Them At Risk

If you are a parent with children under the age of 18 at home, your number-one estate planning priority should be selecting and legally documenting both long and short-term guardians for your kids. Guardians are the people legally named to care for your children in the event something happens to you.

 

And if you’ve named guardians for your children in your will—even with the help of another lawyer—your kids could still be at risk of being taken into the care of strangers

 

One of the most disturbing aspects of this situation is that you probably have no idea just how vulnerable your kids are, since this is a blind spot inherent to the estate plan of countless parents around the world. Even many lawyers aren’t fully aware of this issue—and that’s because most lawyers simply don’t understand what’s necessary for planning and ensuring the well-being and care of minor children.

 

Why? Well, most estate planning over...

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5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk—Part 2

Do a Google search for “digital wills” or “online estate planning,” and you’ll find dozens of different websites offering low-cost, do-it-yourself (DIY) and sometimes even free estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

From LegalZoom® and Rocket Lawyer® to TrustandWill.com and FreeWill.com, these DIY legal documents may seem like a cheap and easy way to finally cross estate planning off your to-do list—and do so without having to pay a lawyer big bucks to assist you. After all, you’ve been able to prepare and file your taxes online for years, is estate planning really that much different? And aren’t lawyers using the very same forms you find on these DIY document websites? 

An Inconvenient Truth
This kind of thinking is exactly what DIY and online estate planning services would like you to believe, but it’s far from true. In fact, relying on DIY or online estate...

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5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk—Part 1

Do a Google search for “digital wills” or “online estate planning,” and you’ll find dozens of different websites offering low-cost, do-it-yourself (DIY) and sometimes even free estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

From LegalZoom® and Rocket Lawyer® to TrustandWill.com and FreeWill.com, these DIY legal documents may seem like a cheap and easy way to finally cross estate planning off your to-do list—and do so without having to pay a lawyer big bucks to assist you. After all, you’ve been able to prepare and file your taxes online for years, is estate planning really that much different? And aren’t lawyers using the very same forms you find on these DIY document websites? 


An Inconvenient Truth
This kind of thinking is exactly what DIY and online estate planning services would like you to believe, but it’s far from true. In fact, relying on DIY or online estate...

Continue Reading...
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