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....
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...
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...
If you are like many homeowners, your home is likely your family’s most valuable and treasured asset. In light of this, you want to plan wisely to ensure your home will pass to your heirs in the most efficient and safe manner possible when you die or in the event you become incapacitated by illness or injury.
Indeed, proper estate planning is as much a part of responsible homeownership as having homeowners insurance or keeping your home’s roof well maintained. When it comes to including your home in your estate plan, you have a variety of different plan designs to choose from, but for a variety of different reasons, putting your home in a trust is often the smartest choice.
Although you should consult with us your Personal Family Lawyer® to identify the best estate planning strategies for your particular circumstances, in this two-part series we’ll discuss how trusts work (both revocable and irrevocable), and then outline the most...
3 Estate Planning Issues For LGBTQ Couples—Part 2
Whether you are married, in a committed partnership, or buying homes with chosen family (platonic or otherwise), estate planning is about much more than planning for death—it's about planning for life. It's the way to ensure your beloved will be protected and provided for in the event of your death or incapacity. As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it's more important for us and our families to get a handle on our estates than anyone.
Although marriage equality (for the LGBTQIA+ community) is legally recognized in all 50 states, long-held prejudice at both the political and family level continues to create complications for both married and unmarried queer families. For example, suppose you have family members who are opposed to your marriage/chosen family living situations. In that case, your estate plan may be more likely to be disputed or even sabotaged by unsupportive relatives. This...
Let's be honest, most families have disagreements, disputes, or just plain drama even in the best of times, so when you're considering what will happen to your estate when you die or if you become incapacitated, why leave it up to chance? This quick read can help you avoid uncomfortable family dynamics even if you're not around to play peacemaker.
No one wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-saving medical treatment, but we see it all the time. This is especially true for those who rely on do-it-yourself estate planning documents found online. (You may think that most lawyers would try to convince you to do otherwise, but did you know that many lawyers actually love those online platforms?? Estate administration is a very lucrative hourly billing model, and the worse the documents, the more it costs your family to fix after you die! I would rather you get the guidance to do it...
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