Which Of These Powerful Secrets Could You Use To Build Your Ideal Estate Planning Legal Program
- Keep your estate settlement simple;
- Avoid the court-supervised Probate process when you die;
There are some things we just don’t like to think about, much less speak about. The universal truth is we are all going to pass away one day. The legacy you leave can either simplify the process of dealing with your personal and financial property, or it can be a worrisome burden for those you leave behind.
We recently had some discussions with a Madison family that was trying to make the most of their father’s IRA and had questions about naming the beneficiary of an IRA. The family wanted to make sure that after the father died, the IRA would benefit one of the children, and then after that child died, the family wanted the IRA to be shared among the other children.
The family kept asking: “Should we name the child as the beneficiary, or should we name a trust (for the benefit of the child) as the beneficiary.
One of the children was married to an accountant. His suggestion (whether it has merit or not is debatable) was, “Don’t name a trust as the beneficiary of an IRA because I hate trusts.”
One of the children stated, “Dad wants it left to a trust for the benefit of a child so that Dad has the assurance that when the child dies, the remaining IRA would go to the child’s siblings.”
What should they do?
What Types Of Trusts Are Useful In Protecting Retirement Plans?
There are a number of schools of thought here. In our practice, we feel a revocable living trust is not a good vehicle to handle retirement plans. Often these are not drafted with the appropriate language to comply with the IRS service regulations to be what’s called a “see-through trust”. A Retirement Plan Trust is specifically drafted to comply with the service regulations and meet all the criteria so that if this trust is designated as the beneficiary, you will be able to preserve the tax deferral for those named beneficiaries to get the stretch advantages.
No, it does not. It transfers by beneficiary designation. Much like life insurance that goes to the individual named in the policy, the retirement plan goes to the individual named on the beneficiary designation in the plan document. If you don’t have a beneficiary designated or the individual that you designated is deceased, the account value can wind up in your probate estate; and if this happens, the only choice is that all the taxes are due right away, and there is significant inflexibility. But in general, it will avoid probate.
If you are a farmer or a rancher, you are hardworking and dedicated. Your farm or your ranch is more than just a way to make a living — it is your legacy. You have spent your life building something that you can be proud of and that you want to pass down to your children so that they can preserve what you have built and they can continue to provide for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, if you do not make an estate plan, your land and your assets may be liquidated cutting your legacy short and ending your family’s unique lifestyle choice.
Estate planning is important for everyone but especially for those who own their own business such as farmers and ranchers. If you avoid making or updating an estate plan, your assets will be subject to state intestate laws. Instead of you deciding how your estate will be settled upon your death, the courts will make that decision for you. Below are three common estate planning mistakes farmers and ranchers make and how to avoid them.
Yes, they fit the broad definition of a blended family, but the story of the “lovely lady” and a “man named Brady” was, of course, simply that. A story. When turning off the TV and looking at today’s blended families, a first observation is how very unique and different they all are. (Or as one estate planner remarked: “If you’ve seen one blended family, you’ve seen one blended family.”)
Estate planning is usually low on a person’s list of priorities until a life event occurs that forces the person to contemplate their own death. The most common life events that cause someone to begin to think about estate planning is getting married, having children, amassing a large asset or amount of money, or the death of a parent, relative, or close friend.
One question about estate planning that our attorneys are asked quite often is, “Why do I need a Will if I do not have children?” Our answer, “Because everyone needs a Will and a comprehensive estate plan regardless of whether they have children, are single or married, or have a little or a lot.” Failing to have a Will results in the state of Wisconsin deciding what happens to your property upon your death. Furthermore, failing to prepare for your incapacity prior to death may result in your healthcare wishes not being honored if you cannot speak for yourself.
Even though we have moved into the electronic age, we still receive a significant amount of paper mail. For some, the amount of paper mail may be higher, especially for those who never embraced email or the internet as a means of communication. Therefore, one of your first steps as an executor for the probate estate is to contact the post office and submit a change of address form. You need to ensure that all of the deceased’s mail is coming to your address so that you can review bills, statements, etc. and take the appropriate measures according to the decedent’s Will or state law.
Unfortunately, along with the important pieces of mail that you receive, you will also receive junk mail, catalogs, magazines, and other items. At some point, you will want to stop mail from being delivered. Bills and statements typically end once the account is settled; however, junk mail will continue until you take steps to stop it.
It has been a bit over a year since the tragic death of actor and comedian Robin Williams; however, the family has yet to settle their battle over his estate. Williams took his life in August of 2014 in his California home. The actor had a Will but his kids from a previous marriage and his current wife have been battling for a year over some of the terms contained in the Will.
Williams’ wife, Susan, petitioned the court to prevent his children from taking possession of the contents of their San Francisco Bay home. She claimed the items in the home should be excluded from the estate. William’s children responded to the petition claiming their stepmother was trying to change the terms of the trust to deprive them of their father’s personal belongings and memorabilia.
Now one year later, the parties have narrowed down the fight to about 300 items and an issue regarding a monetary distribution to Williams’ widow. In June, a judge gave the parties until July 29 to settle their differences and reach an agreement. It is not clear if the parties met that deadline yet or if they will be able to settle the dispute without court intervention.