Showing posts with label Trust law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trust law. Show all posts

Friday, May 30, 2014

5 Tips to Creating a Will that Will Benefit the Whole Family

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No matter how much your assets are worth, writing a will is an important part of ensuring your family’s future. Here are five tips to make your will benefit your family as much as possible.

1. Take Inventory

Because your will “is the document which will record who is awarded your belongings and how to allocate your finances after death,” it is essential that you take an accurate inventory of your belongings (Donnell Law Group). Whether you have several cars and a summer house to take into account, or only a few family heirlooms to consider, it is important that you take an inventory of your assets.

This step can be done under the guidance of an estate planning lawyer or before you meet with one. Make a written list of all your assets. These can include physical things like a house or vehicle, and intangible things like investments. Make sure you do your research, though, as some things, such as retirement accounts, may not pass via your will. A licensed estate planning attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have.

2. Consider a Trust

Think trusts are only for the wealthy? Think again. According to Suze Orman, “A revocable living trust allows your heirs to avoid probate entirely and keeps you in complete control of your finances while you're alive.”

One of the best things about a revocable living trust is you will be able to make changes regarding the management of your assets as needed. After your death, your elected trustee will follow your directions for care and distribution of the trust.

3. Be Specific

As with your inventory, the best way to make your will effective is to avoid generalizations. Don’t hesitate to give brief descriptions of items or add stipulations to the distribution of your assets.

Being specific is most important when you are establishing the care of your children in the event of your death. This is where you outline exactly who should have custody and care of your children.

4. Look into Life Insurance

If you do not already have a life insurance policy, there is no time like the present to investigate your options. Life insurance is one of the easiest ways to provide for your dependents. Life insurance also can be used for settlement of your “debts, funeral expenses, and income or estate taxes” (Nolo).

5. Take this Chance to Discuss Life Planning with Your Children

Whether you have small children or your kids are all grown, the best time to talk to them about the contents of your will is when you’re writing it.

For young children, this can be a chance to introduce and explain concepts like death and funerals. This may seem intimidating, but it is better that your children have a construct of death before they are asked to deal with a death in their family.

For teenaged and adult children, this is a great time to feel out how you would like to divide your estate. Have personal, one-on-one conversations with your children about what property they would like to have pass to them. Having a specific, written will can prevent disputes later on.

Don’t wait to handle your estate planning. Writing a will is fairly simple, but it offers invaluable protection. Having a written will and other legal measures, like a revocable living trust, will provide financial and legal security for your family.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Creating a Will: What Everyone Tends to Overlook

Creating a will is something everyone should do at some point, regardless of the level of financial assets involved. Money, property, and real estate are the common primary considerations when deciding how items should be divided upon an individual's death, but there may be a few other considerations most people do not evaluate. Death can create legal confusion for those left behind, and those who die intestate will have all personal property divided according to the laws of the particular state. A will is a legal method of circumventing that mandated division.


In most states, all personal property is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse at the time of death. Families that include duly entitled children from previous marriages may need to update personal wills regularly to avoid legal contention after an unexpected death. Financial asset transfer can be assigned by the primary individual during the will process, instead of leaving the courts to make the decision later. A will can be contested in court, but overturning a will is different from suing for entitled assets, and usually more difficult. Savings and investment growth should be considered when making the will, as these financial instruments tend to fluctuate in value. The same is true for real estate property. An intestate court transfer order for financially valued articles can mean a much larger settlement for the plaintiff without a valid will.


Transferring property before death is a good way to avoid taxes and ensure your personal property is divided according to your wishes. This can be a crucial financial decision, regardless of financial asset level. The concept of the death tax is real, and normally applies when not addressed in a valid will. This can also include practically any type of property. Wills should be done with careful prior evaluation, and early transfer often gets left out of the equation. It is always important to allow for all options, especially when it means the inheritor maintains as much total value as possible.


There is more to making a will than merely assigning financial assets. Minor or disabled children are a family asset as well and proper instructions should be left indicating the guardian decedent's wishes on custody. This can include disabled adult children who live at home or with a guardian individual. Do not leave this important issue out when it applies, as the decedent has the legal right to recommend a living situation for either minor children or disabled legal dependents. In addition, this can also apply to the primary will maker with respect to predesignated power of attorney and health care before a health condition could render the primary incompetent. Property is not the only component to a valid will. These dispositions could even include custody of a pet.


Married couples should always have independent wills because it leaves clear designation for property that may be later contested, especially when ex-spouses and step-children are involved. Many married couples have there own personal property, as well as community married property, so it is easy to have a complicated situation. Procrastination is not a good idea either, as the most complicated will cases come when the decedent was not prepared and no acceptable personal will can be located. Accidents happen all of the time, so being prepared is always best.

It is not necessary to retain an attorney to prepare a valid will. Even in simple situations, a will can be prepared with one of the many available do-it-yourself will kits, including instructions on notarization of the document. As long as it is properly notarized, it can even be written on scratch paper when acceptable. It may be a good idea to check into purchasing a fire proof safe before or shortly after making the will. If there is only one document, a SafeWorld a division of Dial locksmith may be the safest protection device and it always at the individual's disposal. Fire proof safes from Edmonton are also excellent for protecting other legal instruments and significant amounts of cash, deeds, and ownership documents. Wills should be re-evaluated each year at tax time, and potentially each quarter for those individuals with significant wealth who monitor growth on a daily basis.

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