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The year 2021 began with President Biden assuming his role in office. Democrats now control the House as well as the senate. As a result, many people are anticipating what changes the left has in store. While the introduction of tax changes has been discussed, it’s still too early to anticipate what will happen. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, will likely postpone estate planning changes. Given the changes that likely lie ahead, it’s important to do what you can to stay ahead of what might be coming.

Estate Tax Exemption Level

One anticipated change is that the estate tax exemption will drop to $5 million or lower. This change would lead to people utilizing various unique estate planning strategies. Some people have voiced the concern that if they pass away up to the current estate tax exemption of $11.7 million and later pass away when the exemption has been lowered to $5 million, they will owe estate tax on the lower amount as well as whatever assets are still found in their estate. The Treasury has provided directions as well as stated that they will not claw back gifts made before 2021, which afforded taxpayers the option to decrease their federal estate by transferring assets immediately and then drawing appreciation.

Disputes involving conservatorship and guardianship fall under the purview of probate litigation, while trust and will debates also fall under this category. The best approach to not mitigating the risk of probate litigation is to plan. Your plans may very well include comprehensive estate plans as well as measures to resolve incapacity issues and documentary evidence that supports gifts. 

The Creation of Wills and Trusts

Creating a will before a person passes away allows the creator the chance to both control and communicate their wishes for how their assets should be handled. The creator of a will is also able to nominate either their personal representative or the person charged with administering their estate. By creating a will, your estate plan will not be subject to the control of New York’s intestacy law. Individuals who create wills are instead permitted to have the terms of their will dictate the distribution of their estates and resolve their affairs. A nominated personal representative has the capacity to act in such a position. Without this appointment, surviving loved ones are often left to fight over how an estate is administered. Without the will’s creator appointing such a person, loved ones often fight over who is suited for the job. Additionally, the terms of a will must be clear and inarguable to anyone who reads them to reduce the risk of future litigation. 

Second marriages can help individuals cope with the pain associated with losing a spouse through death or divorce. If other beneficiaries are involved, you should consider what will happen to your assets after you pass away. You cannot guarantee that everyone in a blended family will be happy with the arrangements associated with your second marriage. Fortunately, however, it’s possible to avoid some mistakes so your family does not lose out on receiving an inheritance. With adequate estate planning, you can also make sure that your former spouse does not receive an inheritance if you do not intend so.  To better prepare your estate if you’re in a second marriage, this article reviews several estate planning tips that you should consider utilizing. 

# 1 – You Don’t Have to Treat All Heirs Equally

Most spouses do not marry while they are in equal financial positions. This is even more true for second marriages. If your new spouse moves into your residence, you might want your children to receive proceeds when your home is sold instead of your new spouse. Remember, in these situations, there is no established order that your assets must pass on equally to your children. There are various reasons why you might decide to treat your children unequally including children with disabilities, children who suffer from gambling conditions, or various other factors. 

Many times when a widow remarries, unseen financial challenges in addition to a new marriage occur. Unfortunately, this means that many times what widows see as great matches quickly evaporate into economic despair. Fortunately, financial advisors and estate planning attorneys can help to avoid such undesirable results. 

     Remarriage leaves widows financially exposed. Various strategies, however, can greatly reduce this risk while also protecting assets from a new spouse who might have questionable intentions. Many couples, unfortunately, overlook the fact that what most widows want more than anything is to feel safe and secure about the future. This article reviews some helpful estate planning steps whether you’re a recent or long-time widower to make sure that your assets remain protected.

 Beneficiary Designations

As they look towards the end of their lives, most people want nothing more than to spend every day independent and in their own homes. In reality, however, this is not always possible. Deciding to play a loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision and can leave those who helped make the decision plagued with uncertainty and guilt. Despite these negative feelings, it’s often necessary to place a loved one in a nursing home. 

Fortunately, even if your loved one has recently had to enroll in a nursing home, you can still be there for them. While you might not be your loved one’s primary caregiver now, you still can play an influential role in making sure whether or not they are happy. This article reviews some helpful strategies to remember if you want to continue playing a positive role in your loved one’s care after they enter a nursing home. 

Acknowledge that the Change Is a Necessary One

Understandably, many clients want to appoint children or grandchildren to receive their assets. Appointing a minor beneficiary directly to an account, however, can present its fair share of challenges. Unfortunately, clients often assume that the estate planning process is complete after they sign a will and trust. These individuals often then name the same individual named in their estate planning documents as the direct beneficiaries of their accounts. Remember, if a designated beneficiary is a minor at the time of an account owner’s death, several undesirable results can occur. This article reviews just some of the most important reasons why you should be careful when appointing a minor beneficiary. 

Problems with Naming a Minor

Some substantial reasons exist to dissuade you from naming a minor as the beneficiary of your estate. The most substantial of these problems include the following:

In the recent Texas of Marshall v. Marshall, a beneficiary initiated legal action against a trustee as well as five co-trustees of two trusts addressing claims that they had breached fiduciary duties. After the original lawsuit was filed in Texas, the trustee filed a petition seeking declaratory relief and requesting that the court declare the co-trustees were sufficiently appointed. The beneficiary obtained a temporary injunction preventing the co-trustees from receiving compensation as well as disposing of trust assets or participating in litigation.

The court of appeals reversed the litigation on the grounds that permitting the lawsuit to continue did not constitute a miscarriage of justice. The court of appeals also reversed other aspects of the temporary injunction on the grounds that there was no evidence to support that irreparable harm would occur otherwise.

The Role of Co-Trustees

Many people were forced to think about how to adequately manage their estates in 2020. While a will and last testament was for many years the most common estate planning, trusts have grown in popularity. As part of a will, a person must specify how his or her properties should be distributed after that individual passes away, while family trusts are established for either a specific individual or a group of people who are not specifically named. This article reviews some valuable details you should understand in deciding whether a will, a trust, or both a will and trust are right for you.

Critical Differences between Trusts and Wills

While the critical differences with trusts and wills teal with the time when the assets are transferred, some of the  other vital differences between trusts and wills include the following:

As we proceed into 2021 and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many fundamental aspects of daily living have been challenged. Among many lessons people learned from the pandemic, one of the most critical ones is the importance of asset protection. Private placement life insurance provides individuals with the opportunity to allocate alternative investments in a tax-efficient manner while creating efficient strategies that do not exist with other life insurance options. Various factors make it an ideal time to consider using private placement life insurance including high lifetime exemptions and attractive federal estate and income tax rates. This article reviews some critical details that you should consider about deciding whether private placement life insurance is right for you.

 How Private Placement Life Insurance Functions

Private placement life insurance trusts are a special type of life insurance that has a high cash value compared to a low death benefit. To minimize fees, the life insurance aspect is kept as affordable as possible, which permits the cash value of the policy to drive death benefits. The purpose behind private placement life insurance trusts is to amass a substantial cash value within a life insurance policy to take advantage of the tax-free handling of income as well as gains from the underlying investments in the policy. 

One of the most important elder law decisions is picking the best nursing home. While this decision is often financially motivated, it’s also critical to find a facility that offers the best possible care to fit your needs. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are capable of meeting everyone’s needs. To help process best, Medicare has implemented a five-star rating system.

The Separate Nursing Home Ratings

Not all nursing homes meet Medicare standards. After an in-depth review of a nursing home, Medicare assigns facilities with a rating based on a one to five scale with one being the worst and five being the best. Five-star ratings for nursing homes are based on the following separate categories:

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