When you are creating a will or revocable trust as part of your estate plan, you need to think carefully before selecting someone to act as a personal representative or trustee. Many people just go with their nearest relative, such as a spouse or eldest child, but a fiduciary’s role is not ceremonial. An executor or trustee must be financially responsible and demonstrate the willingness to comply with legal deadlines and court orders. Failure to do so can lead to a substantial delay in administering your estate or trust.
When talking about families and inheritance, studies show that while financial assets are important, family values and family history take the driver’s seat. Most people treasure family stories and life lessons regardless of their age, financial situation, or race. A simple case would be comparing the reactions of siblings on two topics: a family legend or a new car. Chances are, the stories of the new car will stop after one month while the family stories will continue to be told and enjoyed for decades. This is because family stories, family values, and life lessons learned by members of the family are integral to its legacy.
A very recent study though shows that millennials think of inheritance as a “bonus” but expect to get that bonus – and are expecting large sums of up to $100,000. However, they are willing to lower that figure because many parents are already helping their adult children financially with student loans and other expenses.
An article published on www.Marketwatch.com reported that one in three Americans will “blow their inheritance” because they are not prepared to handle it. In fact, those who inherit money tend to spend it quickly and one-third end up with negative savings two years later.
Parents have a responsibility to teach their children money management so any windfall they get will be spent wisely. Inheritance, while a “bonus,” should not be just “fun money.” In today’s economy, a $1,000,000 inheritance does not even guarantee a comfortable retirement for a couple beyond their fifties. Continue reading
The young often think of themselves as invincible in the sense that in their protected world, nothing bad can happen to them, especially with their parents around. Studies show that over 90% of adults under 35 do not have a will, providing reasons like:
- It’s not necessary.
- It’s too complicated for me to deal with right now.
- It’s too expensive.
- My parents will take care of all that.
- I won’t need it for a long time anyway.
- It takes too much time
According to surveys done by USA Life Expectancy, adults aged 15 to 34 rarely die from medical causes but the figures are high for accidents, poisoning, suicide, homicide, and injuries. This suggests that for young adults, death often comes unexpectedly. Continue reading
Estate planning is an essential tool to ensure your money and other assets are transferred pursuant to your wishes upon your death. If you are bequeathing money to a loved one in your will, it is important to keep in mind that large sums of money can be quickly and easily squandered. Financial advisers who work with individuals who suddenly receive a windfall say the money often vanishes quickly. Proper estate planning and the use of wealth transfer tools can ensure the financial well being of your family is protected. Continue reading
Over the years, we’ve discovered that many people make a BIG mistake, catapulting their assets and loved ones right into the probate court system. Most of our clients want to avoid probate court because it has a reputation for being expensive, time consuming, stressful – and public, meaning anyone anywhere can see who got what and how to contact them. Beneficiaries may become victims to nosey neighbors, predators, and unscrupulous “charities.”
Q: What’s the one mistake that causes all these problems?
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.
When computers are being used in kindergarten classes to teach computer skills, it is a glaring sign that our society is fully immersed in the digital age. For some of us, we are completely paperless and perform all transactions online, store all records online, and rush to purchase the latest technology that simplifies our lives. For others, they are in-between jumping in feet first and wading into the digital age. The rest simply refuse to adopt technology and prefer to live as far off the grid as possible.
Regardless of your feelings on the subject, the fact remains that most of us will leave some type of digital footprint when we die. The digital age has forced estate planning professionals to develop new techniques to help estate executors and families identify assets and debts. Furthermore, some of those assets may be digital in nature which could affect how those assets are transferred.
Identifying Assets and Debts in the Digital Age
Will I Owe Estate Tax?
You may have read recently a great deal about the debate regarding estate tax making it appear as if avoiding estate tax is the most important reason why individuals and couples need to prioritize estate planning. However, this is simply not the case. In fact, with the current federal estate tax exemption of $10.68 million for married couples and $5.43 million for individuals, estate tax is not an issue for the majority of individuals who need to begin the estate planning process.
Top Reasons Why You Need an Estate Plan
If avoiding estate tax is not a priority for you in the estate planning process, one or more of the following common reasons for estate planning probably apply in your case. Continue reading
Losing a loved one is an emotional and stressful time regardless of whether the death was expected or sudden. In many cases, family members are in a state of shock when a loved one dies. Many people describe the days after a loved one dies as “operating on auto pilot” as they go through the steps of arranging for the burial and planning a funeral. For some people, taking care of these details can help them feel as if they are in control during a time when they have no control over their emotions.
What Do I Do After the Funeral When a Loved One Dies?
You and your spouse may believe you have plenty of time to plan for your future; however, you never truly know how much time you have or what may happen tomorrow. Losing a spouse or your spouse become incapacitated is a traumatic experience. This experience can be much more difficult and stressful if you and your spouse have not taken steps to protect your family. It is important that both spouses understand the reason or estate planning and the need to ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive and up-to-date.
Below are the most common excuses people give for not beginning the estate planning process sooner.