estate planning tips for people under 30

Estate Planning Tips For People Under 30

Here is a quick definition. An estate is all of the property that an individual owns. The property of an estate typically includes real property (such as a house or condo) and personal property (such as a painting, a tv, etc.). Personal property also includes bank accounts and money market accouts.. The process through which people arrange the transfer of their estate in anticipation of death is the process of estate planning. Estate planning helps an individual distribute real and personal property to his or her heirs. An estate plan aims to save the maximum amount of wealth for desired beneficiaries and it also provides flexibility to the individual prior to death.

Many people think that estate planning is only about choosing the person who you want to get your money after you die. But it is simply not the case. If you are not married and do not have kids, estate planning is essential for you, regardless the age and the money you possess. Single adults with relatively lesser money and other property, may need to take some important estate planning steps to ensure that their wishes come true after you die. Estate planning ensures that only the people you want receive your property and your loved ones are not burdened with your debts.

We are providing a complete set of information for youngsters about the essential parts of estate planning here:

  1. Will

Will is a legal document that describes who will inherit your properties. Most people fewer than 30 who have negligible assets and do not have children, may want certain people to receive certain possessions. If you want your mother to receive your Tiffany ring or you want your best friend to inherit your laptop, will is the way to go.

  1. Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations

If you have an IRA account, you must make sure that your beneficiary designations remain up-to-dated. If you designated your parents or a sibling as beneficiary and later you got married you will have to update your beneficiary. Your husband or wife will not receive those assets automatically upon your death.

  1. Power of Attorney

Once you are an adult you are on your own and you must assign a power of attorney to a parent or any other trusted individual. Power of attorney can access you accounts if you are in an accident and designated representative can take financial decisions on your behalf.

  1. Health Care proxy

Health care power proxy is the person who takes your heath related decision if you end up at hospital and you are not able to take your decisions regarding heath.

  1. Digital Executor

Apart from these you must appoint a digital executor who can take care of you online accounts such as Google and Facebook after your death.

 

Estate planning may seem unnecessary for young adults but it is a vitally important task to perform. Taking a few steps regarding estate planning today can make sure that you get heath care and your desired people inherit your possessions.

Most important elements of a will

The Most Important Elements of a Will

A will is generally a document which incorporates the process of handling assets of one person. It is written by a person during his/her lifetime. A will can be one of the most important document one will write or sign in his/her life. It is a representation of all the wishes and decision regarding the division or the assets one has. A will can also be decisive for the children of the demised. The children who are not old enough to take their own decisions need to have a guardian or trustee appointed and a will can clarify who would be responsible for them.

There is a personal representative allocated in the will who carries out all the tasks that is written in the will, people choose their representative while writing the will. There are many other things that can be listed down in a will but there are some important points that can help anyone write down a well thought will.

Firstly, it is essential that professional help is sought before writing a will. Most people think that it is very easy to write a will and it just gets implemented as it is. It turns out that every locality has different laws that apply the will differently. Making a will without any help could lead to problems for the people the will is written out to. Consulting a lawyer and drafting your will not only smooth the process but it will eliminate any possible problems with the management of the assets.

Secondly, listing down assets could be tricky in many cases. These days we just don’t have typical assets like land and machinery. There are many intangible assets which are difficult to price and transfer. Listing down the assets accurately is an important element of a will, this will help in figuring out how to transfer the assets and how to manage them hereafter.

Lastly, many wills include who will look after the children after ones demise. Choosing the right guardian defines the life of the children. A guardian is responsible of the children and their well-being, if the guardian chosen is flawed or has any possible ulterior motives, it could backfire very easily. For those who have little extra zeros added to the value of their assets it could be difficult to choose a trustee who would look after the assets and children since the assets are considerably more valuable. Taking enough time to choose the right guardian and trustee is crucial.

Once the will is written and is verified, it should be evaluated time to time. Laws change and there are many other changes that happen during the lifetime of people: Like birth of a new child. Even tax laws change frequently. A will that is up to date will create less hassle for the people associated with it and can execute the wishes of the demised effectively.

What Exactly Happens in Surrogate Court?

What Exactly Happens in Surrogate Court?

A surrogate court, which is also commonly known as a probate court, is a specialized court that hears the cases about the affairs of a deceased person. It deals with the matter of probate of wills and the administration of estates. A surrogate court basically, administers the appropriate distribution of the assets, checks the validity and reliability of the wills and refrains wrong doing by executors. Under the availability of a will, the probate court examines the authenticity of the will and properly distribute the assets while in the case of intestacy, the court decides the equal distribution of the deceased’s property according to the law declared by the legal affairs associations. Probate proceedings are held in the city where the decedent had permanent residence or had a domicile of.

In the case of appeals, process at surrogate courts involves a complete process to distribute the property. It initiates with the process that whether the deceased person has left any will or not. But even before that, a case is filed in the local surrogate court which technically needs the death certificate. The requirements of the courts also vary.

  • If the will is not available, the court checks the attorney, whether the person has filed their attorney or not.
  • If the will is available, action is taken on it. The executor claims the will to the local surrogate court to approve the will under his or her name.

The next step is to file a petition. If the decedent left a will, then a Petition for Probate must be filed. The person died intestate, then a file or a petition for Letters of Administration is used. After it gets done, the court would require all these and other necessary documents.

After all the legal processes involving heirs, interested parties agreements, the court appoints the executor to be the representative of the deceased property. The court also issue a decree granting probate by issuing Letters Testamentary to the executor. Letters Testamentary is a document that gives the executor the responsibility of administering the estate. Once this process has be legally formulated, the court handovers all the essential assets to the executor that has been assigned as the representative of the property. The essential assets and property enlist the following:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Securities
  • Real Estate Properties

The executor will also be responsible for paying the debts, taxes and will also be bound to distribute the estate property to all the beneficiaries.

Important Factors about Probate:

  • The Will made from fraud will be denied under the law.
  • All separated papers, important documents, requirements and original death certificate should be submitted to the court for further process.
  • As per the rules of the court, all the original documents should be submitted, copy of documents or damaged ones will not be accepted by the court.
  • The Will created in other or foreign languages will be accepted only if the tester understands the language of the Will.

The process of probate in surrogate court is not difficult until and unless all the necessary measures are taken into account.

why a probate lawyer is important

Why It’s Important To Hire a Probate Lawyer

There are some point in one’s life wherein you will need the help of a probate lawyer. A probate lawyer will help manage filing one’s will or the last testament of a deceased person. Hiring the best probate lawyer will provide an assurance that the family members will receive the property that an individual will left behind after their death. Hiring a probate lawyer while the individual is still alive will not need require you to have some sense of urgency and you will also have the right time to shop around for the best lawyer who will represent your best interest.

In this area, the law may be straightforward and simple or it can also convoluted and confusing. Because it will depend on the degree of the estate planning by the deceased, while they are still alive. However, hiring the best probate lawyer will lessen your stress and will provide you great importance to have a complete will, while ensuring that your families members will no longer experience additional distress after you have passed away.

Probate is a kind of process that may occur after an individual passes away in which it involves taking care of all debts and fair distributions of assets. However, this kind of process only takes place when there is no estate planning or will. Probate lawyers will help you create the last will and testament to ensure that your family members can have real security in the event that you pass away. They also have the ability to assist you with the trust planning and even the medical powers of attorney. Furthermore, your probate lawyer can help some individual regarding their asset protection and can prepare and file all of the needed documents that are required by the court. Aside from the probate process, your probate lawyer can also perform and deal with some matters like income tax issues, requesting permission to the court of various actions that is needed and retitling decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries.

There are some people who find lots of questions if they do really need to hire a probate lawyer. With this kind of question, there is no doubt that the answer is a big yes even though the choice is up to an individual. Having a legal lawyer at your side will provide you security and protection of your family in the future. Even though they will not have to write the estate planning or your will, they have the capability to handle your case. Ensuring everything before you pass away is crucial if there are some mistakes that will set back to the executor of the wills by months. Therefore, an experienced probate lawyer is very important because they know everything that you will need to conduct the probate in a timely manner. Always keep in your mind that having a last will and testament is one of the greatest gift that your family members will receive once you pass away.

 

the irrevocabl trust

What Is the Irrevocable Trust?

Trust is a very important factor in any arrangement.  However, there is one trust, which is also very important that everyone can consider and this is the irrevocable trust which cannot be terminated after it has been finalized. An irrevocable trust is one that is cannot be revoked, changed, modified or amended or in other words, once it has been created and already finalized, the agreement will be now made and cannot be tweaked for any reasons in the near future, no matter what happens. This trust is commonly used in planning a property and allows the grantor to replace or change the arrangement stated in the trust. any time he or she wanted. Basically, there are types under irrevocable trust and below are some of these.

  • Testamentary trusts. What does this type of trust tells about? Nearly all stated testamentary trusts are said to be irrevocable. This is because this is a type of trust that is being funded and created after the death of a person. In other words, all the information or last will testament included has already been finalized, according to what the person wants.  Therefore, no one has the ability to change the information in the terms of this type of trust.  In addition, this will be the arrangement made by the person before he or she dies.
  • Irrevocable living trusts. This type of trust is called as the Inter Vivos irrevocable trust, which is finalized and created by a living trustmaker. This includes charitable remainder trust, spousal lifetime access trust, irrevocable life insurance trust and other trustmaker who have the authority to use this kind of trust.

These are the two main forms of irrevocable trust which you need to consider also, especially if you want to make a trust arrangement or written arrangement to someone.

Benefits of irrevocable trust

Well, for  the irrevocable trust, another significance of having this is that it provides an additional protection on the part of the creditor. Once the property or assets have been transferred to the trust, they will no longer belong to the grantor or in other words, the property has become the legally part of the board of trustee to hold the beneficiaries. Similarly, the creditor of this trust generally cannot place any lien against the trust of assets until such property and assets have been distributed to those who will benefit from it. This is just one of the significance of having this trust, which is really important on the part of the grantor.

Who can get benefits from this trust?

Actually, anyone other than the grantor may be named as the beneficiary of the irrevocable trust. For instance, in the testamentary trust, the family of the person who made the testament trust can benefit from it. However, not all are qualified because it depends on what is written or included in the testament trust. Now, you already know what an irrevocable trust all about and why having this is very important for both the grantor and the beneficiary.

 

what is a living will

What is a living will?

The living will refers to the legal document which let people state whatever wishes they have for the end-of-lie medical care. It is also known as advance directive or health care directive. This is used in order to ensure that he/she will be able to communicate decisions in times he/she cannot express his/her wishes.

Without the presence of the living will document, which expresses such wishes, the doctor as well as the family members, will be left to guessing, what a seriously ill person would want in terms of his/her treatment. In most cases, this may end in some painful disputes that sometimes make it all the way to the courtroom. This event is something that you do not want likely to happen, so it is better to have your living will document as soon as you are still able to communicate your wants and desires.

How does a living will work?

Most states have provided forms for the advance directives to allow the residents to state wishes in as much as few details as they like. In order for a living will to be considered valid, it must meet the state requirements about the witnesses or notarization. It can also be revoked anytime.

A living will can only take effect as soon as it is signed or the person can no longer state or communicate his/her wished regarding the treatment. In relation to this, any doctors will rely on the personal communication instead on a document as much as possible.

How to create the living will?

When it comes to the requirements regarding the creation of living will, they vary from one state to another. That is why most people would tend to hire a lawyer in order to prepare the living will. However, anyone can create this simple document without paying high legal fees. This is through the quality software application that accounts for the law of the state. Once you need to update or write a trust or will, you can take care of the living will simultaneously.

What does a living will cover?

The living will cover not only the direct health care providers that withhold the treatment, but also it allows the person to ask for all the available treatment options as well as medical techniques. It also allows the person to reject others and to choose some of the medical options.

Since a living will are involving most of the complicated medical issues, the consultation with a doctor can help in clarifying the different treatment types and assisting the patient to make the living will decisions.

A living will would not take effect legally unless otherwise the patient is medically determined being in the permanent terminally ill or vegetative state, so the patient can no longer communicate his/her medical preferences.

From the word itself, living will, it does no longer have power to take effect after the death of the person. Creating a living will as early as now will definitely ensure your medical assistance and treatments according to your own preferences.

how to avoid probate

How to Avoid Probate

Throughout our life, the process of acquiring property and assets are common and often considerable for most of us. Upon death, there’s often a great deal or effort and concern placed into what will happen to their belongings and as to when these assets goes to when your death comes. With these issues being a growing concern for many people, one must therefore understand the essential and simple method as to how to avoid probate for all or any possession that you are going to leave behind. Though probate process is being considered to be complex and also time consuming, “avoiding” probate doesn’t need to be difficult at all.

Probate process is a process that is being administered from the public court system, which rightfully and legally distributes the assets of a diseased individual that is in accordance to their binding wills. Of course, undergoing trough these public system is generally difficult and very tedious, and often brings great concern for those who are involved with it. Fortunately, there are some easy and legal ways on how you can help your beneficiaries or living heirs avoid the trouble of undergoing these process. Knowing what these ways are and how to use them is often a very effective process to implement for any banqueted possessions. Below are some of the successful ways on how you can avoid probate:

‘Pay-on-Death’ Accounts and Registration

Converting your retirement accounts and bank account into a payable-on-death account is one of the helpful tools at hand to help you with our probate. Under POD account, money is automatically passed to the heirs/beneficiaries upon the death of its owner. You can do this by filling out a form in which you need to list your beneficiary. Whilst, when you die, the money will directly go to the beneficiary without the need to pass from the tedious probate process.

‘Transfer-of-Death’ Account and Registration

Applying for POD (pay-on-death) and TOP (transfer-of-death) are almost similar, but there’s a huge difference when it comes to the scope of this process. Unlike POD where the original owner’s money and bank accounts are being transferred to their heir when they die, in TOP, the owner’s “property” and “assets” are the one which is being passed on the beneficiary. Some states  also do allows owner to name a TOD beneficiary for their vehicle, thus automatically transferring their car to their heirs instead of just sitting unused while waiting for the probate process.

Revocable Living Trust

Living trust is especially intended to help people make an ‘end-run around probate’. One of the best thing about holding your asset or property to trust is that, the trust property will no longer be part of your probate estate after your death. This is because trustee will own the trust property. After the original owner’s death, trustee can quickly and easily transfer the trust property to the family, spouse, relative, child that you left it to, yet without the need to undergo probate.

What do estate lawyers do?

More than half of Americans leave the world without a proper will or an estate plan. Since they have not created the financial plans in their living, the state often transfers the assets to the deceased person’s closest relatives. The state also decides where the young children of the deceased are sent as well as their property if the other parent is unable to take care of them. However, with the help of an estate lawyer, these decisions can be made thoughtfully in advance.

An estate lawyer is a bar certified attorney who helps and guides their clients in choosing the correct options for maintaining their estates and property after death, mental disability or incapacity. Every person has different wishes. Some wish to distribute their wealth and property equally between their family members while others may have other desires about their assets. A qualified estate lawyer will not only describe the various options available but also make sure that your last wishes are carried out according to the law.

It is important to choose an estate lawyer who is experienced and understands your unique family and financial situations. The estate attorney should also be well informed about the laws of your certain state. You should also be comfortable with your estate planning lawyer in order to share the most intimate details of your life.

An estate planning lawyer can help you in various ways such as:

  • prepare a power of attorney according to the requirements of law
  • advice ways on how to reduce taxes on your estate property
  • prepare a will
  • establish a living trust
  • pass the property to the client’s family members as desired
  • makes sure that your property is protected from inheritor’s creditors and predators
  • And much more.

Who should hire an estate lawyer?

Estate planning is an important and often the most neglected part of any financial planning. Of course, it may seem simple for those who have few assets as well as no complicated family situations. But in truth, Estate planning is beneficial in assuring that finances are properly handed over to the heirs as well as medical decisions are made in advance and the heirs receive fair amount of the total assets.

An experienced and qualified estate planning attorney can help ensure that your property is managed smoothly even after your demise and makes sure your wishes to distribute your property and other wealth is carried out the way you want.

trusts

All About Trusts

Different Types of Trusts

When it comes to proper estate planning, it pays to examine all the features that will help you pass along the greatest amount to your children or designated party that avoids as many taxes as possible. This is where a lawyer experienced with estate planning can be most effective in helping you make the best decisions.

As part of the process, you will need to understand the two basic types of trusts that are available which can help you in planning accordingly. By understanding how trusts can affect your estate in a positive manner, you can make the best decisions when it comes to what you want to leave behind and avoiding the taxes involved.

Living and Testamentary Trusts

There are essentially two types of trust, living and testamentary that can be used in association with your estate. A living trust which may also be called an “inter-vivos” trust is created during the lifetime of the person. A testamentary trust is set up in a will and it becomes active only after the death of the person and the will is being executed. In both cases, you will need to work with your lawyer to ensure that your wishes are carried out and the proper taxes avoided so that your estate will not place an undue burden on the inheritors.

Living trusts can be divided into two different types, revocable and irrevocable.

Revocable Trust: This will allow you to retain all control of the assets in a trust where you are free to make changes at any time that you want. There are benefits to this type of trust, most notably if the recipient is in your view no longer capable of receiving the money that the trust holds you can always change where it goes or the terms that you have imposed.

Irrevocable Trust: Here, the assets of the trust are no longer yours to do with as you please. Instead, any changes that you make must be done with the consent of the beneficiary in order for them to apply. This may seemingly be a big disadvantage of the trust. However it is not subject to estate taxes which is a big benefit.

In addition to the irrevocable and revocable trusts, there are a number of other, more complicated versions of trust that can be used in specific situations. Again, it is imperative that you get the best advice from a trusted lawyer with experience in estate planning to see which of these specialized types of trusts work best for your needs.

Credit Shelter: Also known as a “family trust” or “bypass”, this is a type of trust that you put into a will that bequeaths a particular amount to the trust that is up to, but does not exceed the estate tax exemption. At that point, you will then pass the rest of your estate to your spouse which will be tax-free. In addition, there is an additional bonus in that the credit shelter trust will always be free of estate taxes even if it grows in value because the original amount was below the personal tax exemption when it was created.

Dynasty Trust: Also called a “generation-skipping” trust, this allows you to transfer a large amount of money tax-free to beneficiaries at least two generations removed from you and down the road which means that they must be younger. This generally means that you will leave money to your grandchildren which will skip your children. This is an excellent way to make sure that your grandchildren benefit from your estate without having to pay the estate taxes. In addition, the beneficiaries may also be grand nieces and nephews or even great-grandchildren and beyond depending on the limitations as explained in the rules and regulations that govern this type of trust.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust: This is a trust that removes your life insurance from the estate that is taxable. It is designed to help pay the estate costs and provide your beneficiaries with cash that they can use for a variety of reasons. There are many who do not realize that the benefits of their life insurance policy is considered part of their overall estate. So, to remove it from consideration you will need to surrender the ownership rights of the policy.

The bad news is that you can no longer use your life insurance policy to borrow against or change the beneficiaries if you wish to make such decisions. However, the good news is that the proceeds from the policy may be used to help pay off estate costs after you pass away and provide your recipients with a tax-free income.

Qualified Personal Residence: This is a type of trust that may remove the value of your home or vacation residence from your estate. This particular type of trust is quite valuable if your home is likely to appreciate considerably over the years. Basically, this is the type of trust that works well if you see the value of your property going up considerably which may exceed the personal exemption for estates. By putting it into this type of trust, you are removing a potential issue for those who receive your estate and still providing them with a home.

Qualified Terminal Interest Property Trust: If you are part of family that has experienced divorces, getting remarried, and having step-children, then you may want to focus the assets to a particular group of relatives with this type of trust. This means that your surviving spouse will receive the income from the trust along with the beneficiaries that you stipulate. This means that those whom you do not stipulate may get the principle or the remainder after your spouse passes away. This type of trust is designed to avoid any confusion when it comes to how you want your estate divided when there are multiple beneficiaries that are available.

All in all, understanding the nuances of estate planning, irrevocable and revocable trusts and the many different types of specialized trusts that are available will help you make the best informed decision about your estate.

estate tax

All About Estate Tax

Estate Tax

When someone passes away, they leave behind what is known as an estate. The estate represents the culmination of their personal property and depending on a number of factors there will be a tax imposed upon the estate when it is passed or given to another party. The estate tax or gift tax as it is sometimes called only applies to estates that leave behind $5.43 million in value. Anything less than that and the estate is not taxed when it passes from the deceased to another party which is usually the children.

The History of the Estate Tax

The first recorded history of the estate tax in the US occurred in the War Revenue Act of 1898 when it was applied to all distributive shares of personal property that exceeded $10,000. This particular tax was based on succession and did not affect distributions of the land. The duty was scaled at 75 cents per $100 up to $5 per $100 if the legacy was under $25,000. Over that amount resulted in the rate being multiplied 11 times on estates valued at $100,000 and progressively upwards as the value of the estate increased. This law was challenged and upheld in the US Supreme Court.

Over the decades, the estate tax has changed in form many different times in order to adjust to the growing wealth of Americans. For a brief time in 2010, the estate tax itself was abolished. However, today the estate or gift tax is now set at $5.43 million in value which is designed to only affect the very wealthy. However, there is still a movement to abolish the estate tax on general principle since many view it as an unnecessary burden when property is being passed to another generation.

However, as with virtually any tax there are exemptions and deductions that are present which takes away some of the tax burden imposed on those who receive the estate.

Different Types of Exemptions and Deductions

The number of exemptions and deductions will sometimes vary depending on what new tax laws are passed. Plus, there are a number of states that have their own tax penalty or deduction which may apply to the estate.

Personal Estate Tax Exemption: This is an exemption that allows for a particular dollar amount of property to pass without any taxation no matter who is the recipient. For those who passed away in 2014, the amount of the exemption was $5.34 million and in 2015 it was $5.43 million. Since the amount is indexed for inflation, it will most likely increase in the future on a year by year basis. So, for estates that are worth less than the amount exempted which constitutes roughly 99% of all estates, there will be no federal estate tax imposed upon your passing. However, if you have made taxable gifts during your life, then the amount of the personal exemption will be reduced by the amount of the taxable gifts.

Marital Deduction: Property that is left to the surviving spouse is free of all federal estate taxes. This includes same-sex couples who are legally married and recognized in the state where they live. This type of deduction is not valid if the property was left to a non-citizen of the US who is also a spouse. However, the personal estate or gift tax exemption still applies to non-citizens that are also spouses.

Basically, the surviving spouse will get a considerable tax break when being left the estate of the deceased assuming that he or she didn’t use up their individual tax exemption. Assuming this is the case, the survivor can use what is left. That means the couple gets a total exemption that is twice the individual amount which can be split between them in a manner that provide the best tax benefit.

A good example is if one spouse dies and leaves $4 million to their widow, there is no estate tax because the amount is considerably below the $5.43 million. If the widow passes away and leaves behind $6 million which includes the $4 million left to her by the spouse to their children, the estate still will not owe any taxes because the $6 million is still below the combined amount that the first spouse did not use for their exemption which would be $5.43 million plus the $1.43 million from the previous spouse equals $6.86 million in exemptions.

Charity: All the property left to a charity organization that is tax-exempt is also free of any estate tax. This means that a person who wishes to donate part or all of their property to a recognized tax-exempt charity will not have any estate taxes placed on the property that is donated. This is a common tactic of those who are very wealthy who wish to leave part or all of what they own to causes they believe.

Estate Taxes from the State

Depending on where you live, the state may also take a bite in terms of estate or inheritance taxes that may be owed. You will need to review the rules and regulations in terms of your state’s estate or gift tax policies to see exactly where you stand. In most cases, there will be little that you can do short of moving to another state when it comes to getting deductions or having the overall tax reduced.

For those who believe their estate will be large enough to be subject to the federal estate tax, it is best to get advice from an experienced estate planning lawyer so that you can fully review the options. You may find that there are certain planning tools that will reduce the total liability owed for the estate tax. It is best to take steps as soon as possible in order to avoid as many penalties as you can. For those who own estates that are close to the personal exemption, it may pay to sell parts of it so that the total amount remaining will be below the stated exemption. However, keep in mind that it is indexed and the overall amount will go up each year.