Serving as executor of an estate is an honor and a weighty responsibility. This being the case, most executors take the role seriously and do the job to the best of their ability. For some executors, though, the job is just too much. Whether the responsibilities of administering the estate are overwhelming or there are outside duties to attend to, on occasion an executor will simply neglect his or her duties, and allow a decedent’s estate to languish. When this happens, what can family members … [Read more...] about What Happens When an Executor Doesn’t Finish the Job?
Wills and Trusts
One of the risks inherent in opting for a do-it-yourself estate plan is that, without the help of an experienced attorney, you can’t spot any missing pieces of the puzzle. Such is the case with the residuary clause, an essential part of any will, but one may be missing in wills not prepared by attorneys. A residuary clause is a provision in a will that gives instructions as to what should happen to property that is not specifically disposed of in other parts of the will. For instance, if your … [Read more...] about Estate Planning Term: Residuary Clause
If you intend to leave a substantial inheritance for your spouse, children or other loved ones, you might want to think twice about having money or other assets distributed to them “outright” when you pass away. Simply handing over an inheritance to a beneficiary in one lump sum can spell trouble, and it can deprive your loved one of the protections provided by a lifetime trust. What is a Lifetime Trust? When you establish a lifetime trust, you appoint a trustee to manage certain assets on … [Read more...] about Why Choose a Lifetime Trust?
Everyone needs a basic estate plan. This is a set of documents you put in place that helps to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled when it comes to the management of your personal life and your finances in case you become disabled, and that controls the distribution of your property when you pass away. The Makeup of a Basic Estate Plan Generally, a basic estate plan will include the following documents: A Last Will and Testament: You use your Will to express your wishes regarding how your … [Read more...] about Basic Estate Planning and Advanced Estate Planning: What’s the Difference?
What are the first steps in settling a loved one’s estate? Whether the foundation of your loved one’s estate plan was a will or a trust, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a probate attorney relatively soon after the death – within a few weeks, if possible. And, you’ll want to gather the following paperwork to take with you to the appointment. Estate Planning Documents: If there’s a will, you’ll need the original, plus any original codicils. If there’s a trust, a copy of the trust … [Read more...] about Essential Paperwork for Settling an Estate
Probably the second-best estate planning advice you’ll ever receive is to make sure you keep your plan updated to reflect changes in your family, your finances, and the law. (The best advice, of course, is simply to make an effective estate plan in the first place.) But, this brings to mind the question, once you’ve updated your estate plan by making a new Will, what do you do with your old one? The answer is to destroy it. The easiest way to do this is simply run it through the … [Read more...] about What to Do With Your Old Will
How do you know if someone is of sound mind when he or she makes a Will? And, if you don’t think that a loved one was of sound mind when his or her Will was made, can you challenge the Will? The legal term for being of sound mind is “testamentary capacity”, and there are a number of elements that go into having testamentary capacity. A person can challenge a Will on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity. In order to do this, he or she has to prove that one of these elements was missing … [Read more...] about Challenging a Will: Lack of Capacity
The blended family has become the most common family arrangement in America, and if you’re a member of one of these families, you know firsthand how complicated the family dynamics can get. When it comes to estate planning, it can be a challenge to make sure you’ve protected everyone’s interests and taken care of everyone’s needs. Despite the best of intentions, unless you have the proper guidance it can be easy to unintentionally disinherit a child or step-child. Here are two scenarios: 1) … [Read more...] about Blended Family? Make Sure No One is Left Out in the Cold
When you’re making an estate plan, it’s easy to become so focused on making sure your large assets go to the appropriate individuals that you don’t pay enough attention to what should happen to your personal possessions. After all, your household “stuff” isn’t that valuable, so there’s no real need to address it as thoroughly as you do your big, financial assets, right? Wrong! Even though your personal possessions might not have much monetary value, certain items are likely to have an immense … [Read more...] about Who Will Get Your Personal Possessions When You Pass Away?
If you own real property or certain types of tangible personal property outside of Texas, your loved ones could be in for an added complication when it comes to settling your estate. In this situation, not only is any Texas property titled in your name subject to probate here at home, but certain out-of-state property will have to go through a probate process – called Ancillary Probate – in the state where it’s located. If you plan ahead, there are ways to avoid Ancillary Probate. Here are a … [Read more...] about Avoiding Ancillary Probate