Articles Posted in Estate Planning

You should strive to review your estate plans every few years. While it might not seem like it, many events can occur during this period that impacts your estate planning goals. Besides personal changes, the country also experiences national elections every four years which often lead to changes in estate taxes.

Consider Role Appointments

One of the most critical parts of estate planning is appointing who among your friends and family members will act in the role of executor, power of attorney, and other estate planning positions. You should also question whether the parties you nominate to act in such a role remain fit and willing to act in these positions. It’s also important to remember that the suitability of appointments can change. While a person might seem like a good executor, they might not be a suitable executor a decade from now. 

After a person is named an executor, the individual takes on the obligation to adequately and promptly complete the estate’s administration in addition to distributing an estate’s assets to anyone listed as a beneficiary. Assuming that the executor appreciates the duty that he or she owes to the estate and pursues appropriate assistance, an estate’s administration can be performed in a timely manner, and assets are distributed appropriately.

It’s not unique for new challenges to appear during estate administration. This article highlights some situations where a court might remove an executor after paperwork is filed by an estate beneficiary.

A common issue faced by beneficiaries is when executors do not timely administer an estate. Even though estate administration is nuanced, executors have a duty to administer estates in a timely manner. Unfortunately, executors sometimes do not expediently process how an estate should be administered. Instead, executors sometimes take too long to complete estate planning processes. 

When participating in estate planning, many people focus solely on large assets like real estate or retirement accounts. This often means that people end up downplaying the value of personal property planning. People who make this mistake often overlook the point that personal items can have a value that far surpasses anything measured by monetary value. As a result, everyone should spend adequate time planning for personal assets. Certain items require special focus. Firearms are one of these unique items. Making matters even more complex, firearms are one of the unique items of personal value that carry a distinct risk of danger including liability for accidents that might result. As a result, a person should be cautious but deliberate when it comes to estate planning and firearms. 

Be Careful to Whom You Give a Firearm

A personal representative or trustee is the individual that you select to function in a fiduciary role or administer your estate in reflection of your wishes. Transferring your favorite firearm to a relative can end up being a complex issue if the person is a prohibited individual. The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it against the law for certain types of individuals to not just ship but also receive, transport, or possess firearms. Some categories of individuals prohibited by the Act include individuals who have been convicted of felonies, users of illicit drugs, people with mental illnesses, and people who have been convicted of domestic violence. Simply transferring a firearm to a prohibited individual can create a wide range of complex issues. 

Although it was long predicted, the country is currently in the middle of the biggest transfer of assets in current history. The Federal Reserve reports that at the end of 2021’s first quarter, people in the United States who are 70 years of age and older had net worths of approximately $35 trillion.

The question of whether people in the United States will prepare to transfer assets depends on the extent of funds that pass on to attorneys, courts of love, and needy loved ones.

When someone you love passes away, assets are ideally passed to people and organizations chosen by the deceased individual. Many people are not adequately prepared to pass on assets, though. One study reveals that approximately 46% of Americans own wills, which are vital estate planning documents. Estate planning helps a person appoint who will take care of loved ones and determine how assets will be assigned after you pass away. While some people make the mistake of thinking that only the wealthiest individuals need estate plans, everyone including people of modest means need estate plans to achieve their estate planning goals.

The estate tax exemption is slated to return to $5 million in 2026. For married individuals, the exemption is considered portable”, which means that the estate of the second spouse to pass away can benefit from the unused amount of the exemption that was available to the first spouse who passed away.

This change in tax law means that wealthy individuals’ estates can be protected from the claw of federal law through a $10 estate tax exemption. The indexed amount is $12.06 million for people who pass away in 2022. Meanwhile, transfers among spouses remain exempt from taxation due to the unlimited marital deduction. Consequently, many people do not need to be concerned about the federal estate tax.

The portability election, which has been titled by legislatures the “deceased spouse unused exemption” (DSUE) is an election utilized by an estate’s executor.

Many adults with special needs children routinely worry about how the child will survive when the parent can no longer support them. Often, leaving money directly to a special needs child can end up jeopardizing that child’s ability to receive any support from government-funded programs including Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income. To receive funds from these programs, beneficiaries often must have below a few thousand dollars in assets.

In these situations, special needs trusts can help to provide for the beneficiary once the parent or loved one is no longer around. Because the special needs trusts are viewed as owning assets, they are exempt from asset limit tests associated with government programs. Special needs trusts can meanwhile help to support quality-of-life improvements for a beneficiary. Special needs trusts also help to avoid situations where a family member receives funds and the other relatives are left to face the burden of this responsibility as well as the cost of care.

Due to the interest in special needs trusts, the number of these trusts has been growing substantially. Despite these benefits, special needs trusts come with certain regulations regarding who can qualify to use them as well as how earnings are taxed, which can end up influencing situations that warrant using these trusts.

Many people want to avoid involving children in conversations about trusts. This article reviews some ideas that are helpful to consider when people decide whether to establish a quiet (or “silent”) trust or a trust that allows keeping the trust’s existence or details about the trust from beneficiaries as well as for the extent of time that the trust will remain quiet. 

Research reveals that approximately 70% of wealth transfers do not operate properly by the third generation. Not operating properly in this context involves the receiving generation losing control of assets in the trust. Routinely, this is not due to inadequate wealth planning or unwise investing, but instead to an absence of trust, transparency, and lack of planning. Before considering quiet trusts, it’s a good idea to consider the wider picture of family governance as well as preparing children for the assets that they will one day receive. Instead of considering quiet trusts as an alternative to wills, you should also consider involving your beneficiaries directly in discussions about the trust once they reach the appropriate age. What constitutes an appropriate age is influenced by the structure of a family, but in many cases is earlier than a person thinks.

How Wealth Is Transferred

In the recent case of Boyle v. Anderson, the Virginia Supreme Court issued what has the potential to be an influential decision about arbitration statements found in trusts. 

The Story Behind the Case

Before his death, a man established an inter Vivos irrevocable trust that he intended to be divided into three portions. One third was to be given to the man’s daughter, one to his son, and one to the children of the third child. After the man’s death, his daughter became both the trust’s beneficiary and trustee. The trust included an unambiguous arbitration clause that stated any dispute that is not amicably resolved through mediation or any other method should be resolved through arbitration. 

After a loved one passes away and you learn about that person’s estate plan for the first time, it’s common to encounter various emotions as you respond to the terms of the plan including shock, sadness, or even anger. Based on the estate plan’s appointments, beneficiaries, or other times, you might be left wondering if you will be able to raise any type of claim to challenge the terms of the estate plan. This article reviews some of the basics that you will need to follow if you plan on raising a strategy based on either undue influence or incapacity.

# 1 – Not Everyone Can Challenge a Will

Beneficiaries do not acquire protected interests in a person’s property until after that person passes away. Often, a person cannot attack a will until after that person’s death. This is because the person who creates the estate plan can theoretically alter the terms of an estate plan any time before the creator passes away. If a person is interested in challenging a Durable Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, however, a person can challenge these documents during a person’s lifetime. No restriction exists regarding who can challenge a person’s will. Often, one or more family members of the person who created the estate plan can challenge the document’s terms.

Many people are curious about what happens after they are no longer able to manage their assets. Many chances are created when it comes to estate planning arrangements and trusts play a large role in estate planning. If you choose wisely, trusts fortunately can prove to be an excellent way to reduce the taxes ultimately placed on your estate.

Establishing a Trust

Trusts are a type of arrangement used to the advantage of entities or people that the trust creator selects. Trusts vary greatly in activation as well as how they are accessed. Trusts tend to break down into the following kinds:

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