Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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:

Earlier in 2022, the stock market entered what is referred to as a bear market, which happens when the market drops more than 20% lower than a recent high. Financial experts have cited various reasons why the market has declined including, but not limited to, the war between Russia and Ukraine, energy shortages, and inflation. Each of these elements has encouraged investors to avoid losses. The market’s volatility will unfortunately remain for some time, which might make you wonder how this type of market could impact our estate planning. 

Bear and Bull Markets

Bear markets are often followed by bull markets, in which losses are recovered. The most substantial growth in the stock market often occurs in what follows a bear market. As a result, people who want to make the most of estate planning should realize that bear markets are an ideal time to make the most of the decline in investment values to make the most of gifts that will be appreciated in the future and to take advantage of existing income tax benefits.

People interested in estate planning are increasingly placing digital asset clauses in their estate planning documents. This unfortunately adds another layer of complexity to estate planning.

As focus in digital assets becomes more popular, the need for adequate estate planning also increases. People want to make sure that their financial planning prospers besides that person’s daily use of digital technology.

A large number of people interested in estate planning have even placed clauses addressing bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies into the estate plans of clients. Digital wallets go in combination with digital assets because passwords play a critical role in making sure that your loved ones are able to access your assets after you pass away or become incapacitated. Digital assets including social media, blogs, and email accounts are also playing an increasingly more prevalent role in estate plans.

In contrast to what many people think, the best estate planning considers all 

aspects of your life instead of only the end. The estate planning process requires thinking about what is important to you as well as your expectations for loved ones.

Prenuptial agreements, which a person enters into before marriage, guard those you love as well as create a groundwork for transparency and trust. While some people think prenuptial agreements “kill” the romance in a relationship, these agreements often actually act to strengthen. This article reviews some of the most common advantages for estates that people realize by creating prenuptial agreements.

Imagine you’ve finally met with your attorney to establish an estate plan and are now considering whether to establish a trust. Or a situation where you already have an estate plan that includes a revocable trust. In today’s world of estate planning, revocable trusts have proven to be a common but effective tool for achieving a person’s estate planning goals. This article reviews some of the important details that you should consider about the reality of revocable trusts.

# 1 – Revocable Trusts Are the Same as Revocable Living Trusts

A person can create a revocable trust during their life and maintain the power to revise the trust at any time. Revocable trusts are referred to by various names including a living trust, a revocable living trust, and an inter vivos trust. The terms of a trust are substantially more important than what a trust is called. The critical aspect that distinguishes revocable trusts from other kinds of trusts is the authority to either amend or revoke the terms of the trust. 

The unfortunate truth is that everyone’s parents will ultimately pass away even though the average life expectancy is increasing. While some of our parents pass away while we are children, other people lose their parents when they are adults.  Even though this is a grim reality, it is best to prepare for this eventuality. Because you can lose a parent at any time, you should do everything possible to prepare for this occurrence. It’s important to know just why but also how and what to talk about with your parents when it comes to estate planning.

Why These Conversations Are Important

Without documenting plans for your parent’s approach to what will happen after they pass away, you can end up in a difficult situation. Without access to your parent’s funds, you might be left to pay for the various costs they leave behind when they pass away. Unfortunately, this means that some caregivers end up spending their own money in these situations. Besides the additional costs, your parent’s end-of-life plans are also less likely to be achieved. Having conversations about these matters before your parent passes away or becomes incapacitated makes sure you’re able to tackle these issues.

In the recent case of Eskra v. Grace, a person filed a petition attempting to be named as personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate. The trial court denied her petition based on a premarital agreement waiving her interest in her deceased husband’s separate property. The court named the man’s parents as the estate’s co-administrators.

The Court’s Holding

The court held that the man was entitled to introduce evidence in support of her claim that she and her deceased husband mistakenly believed the premarital agreement only applied in case of divorce instead of after the man’s death. On remand, the trial court determined that the error was a unilateral mistake on the wife’s part and that the wife had no entitlement to rescission. The court expressly found that insufficient evidence existed that the husband either encouraged or fostered the wife’s incorrect impression. 

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