One of the things you’ll have to do as you put together your estate plan is appoint fiduciaries to manage an assortment of tasks on your behalf once you pass away; or, even if you become unable to manage your own affairs while you’re still alive. If, like many people, you decide to use a trust as one of your estate planning tools, you’ll need to appoint a successor trustee. Many people ask if they should appoint co-trustees to manage their trust; two of their children, perhaps? This is a very … [Read more...] about Should You Appoint Co-Trustees?
Wills and Trusts
Estate planning is one of those things that we know we need to do, but so many of us put off until it’s too late. Here are a few simple estate planning “do’s” to get you on the right track. Make a Plan: Depending on which statistic you look at, over half of all Americans die without a simple will. And without a plan, it’s state law that decides who gets your property. It could be a judge whom you’ve never met that decides who’ll be raising your children. And without a plan, the process … [Read more...] about 5 Estate Planning Do’s
Fortunately, from the standpoint of time and expense, the probate process in Texas is not always the nightmare that we often hear about in other states. Especially for smaller estates, the process can be streamlined and may take only a few months, if there are no problems to resolve. Larger estates, or those where there’s conflict, take longer to go through the probate process. Even if you have a relatively small estate, there are still reasons why you might want to avoid probate. Here are … [Read more...] about Three Reasons for Avoiding Probate
An essential part of establishing your estate plan is nominating certain fiduciaries. These are people who will serve in positions of responsibility, such as Executor and Trustee, and will help ensure that the wishes contained in your estate plan are carried out. Many people simply name a spouse or an adult child to serve in one or more fiduciary roles, but this isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, you know from the start that your close family members will be too emotional to take on … [Read more...] about What is an Institutional Fiduciary?
As you make your estate plan and update it over the years, you’ll need to nominate several fiduciaries. What exactly is a fiduciary? It’s a person or an institution who will have the power to act on your behalf (or on behalf of your beneficiaries) in carrying out different elements of your estate plan. A fiduciary is responsible for acting in the interests of another person – and not necessarily in his or her own interests. Here are a few examples: Executor: An executor is the person … [Read more...] about Estate Planning Glossary: Fiduciary
If you have, or are considering, a Revocable Living Trust, it’s important to know that having an effective trust is takes more than one step. It’s not enough to just have your attorney draw up your trust agreement and sign it – you also have to fund your trust. Funding your trust means transferring property out of your individual name, and into the name of the trustee. Any property that is owned by the trust falls under the terms of the trust and is within the control of the trustee. So, he … [Read more...] about Have You Funded Your Revocable Living Trust?
Many married couples have “I Love You” wills. These are simple wills that mirror each other and leave all your assets to the surviving spouse. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this type of will, unless you’re in a very limited financial situation, “I Love You” wills may not be the best option for your family. Here are some of the things that this type of will just can’t do: Tax Planning. If your estate is large enough to be taxable – and starting in 2011, this just might include … [Read more...] about Do You and Your Spouse Have “I Love You” Wills?
With the estate tax sure to make a comeback next year, estate tax planning is once again at the forefront of many peoples’ minds. And in calculating your gross estate for tax purposes, the IRS includes the value of any life insurance policies you own. For people whose life insurance policies drive the value of their gross estate into the taxable realm, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT)can be an effective estate planning tool. How does it work? You establish an ILIT and name a … [Read more...] about The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
You’ve worked hard all your life to build a financial legacy to leave to your children and grandchildren. One concern you might have is making sure your beneficiaries understand and carry on the values you’ve lived by and tried to instill in your family. Another concern might be making sure that your beneficiaries manage their inherited wealth wisely. An incentive trust might be the way to address these concerns. An incentive trust is not a separate type of trust, it’s just a trust with … [Read more...] about Estate Planning With an Incentive Trust
As a rule, you’re allowed to do whatever you want with your property when you pass away. Whatever instructions are left in your will are supposed to control where your assets go, right? Well, not necessarily. There are some pretty big exceptions to this general rule, and one of them has to do with the property your spouse is entitled to after your death. There’s no state in which you can completely and totally disinherit your spouse, unless of course, he or she agrees in writing in the form … [Read more...] about Can I Disinherit My Spouse?