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The Four (or Five) Documents Everyone Needs In Their Estate Plan

Everyone has different estate planning needs; however, all estate plans should have the same, basic documents. A Will. The crux of any estate plan, a will distributes your assets to the persons you want to receive your property when you die. In addition, a will names an executor to manage your estate, and can appoint a legal guardian and trustee for children and grandchildren. A durable power of attorney (POA) authorizes someone to sign your name, and act on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incompetent to handle financial matters.  The person you designate in the POA can pay bills, file taxes and direct investments on your behalf. A Health Care Proxy authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to communicate them for yourself. Without a Health Care Proxy, doctors or hospitals will be required to provide medical treatments based upon their protocols, regardless

COVID-19 Highlights The Need for Revocable/Living Trusts

Revocable Trusts, also known as Living Trusts, are being used with greater frequency in estate planning because they offer families immediate access to money and assets without having to wait for a loved one’s Will to be admitted to probate. In a typical Revocable Trust, the creator of the trust (i.e., the grantor) is also the primary beneficiary and trustee during his or her lifetime.  This allows the grantor unfettered access and control over the assets that were transferred into the trust during the grantor’s lifetime. Upon the grantor’s death, a named successor trustee takes over automatically, and distributes the assets as specified by the grantor in the trust document. Immediate Access to Assets Probate (i.e., the determination by a court as to the validity of a Will, and the appointment of an executor or other fiduciary) can be a lengthy process which delays an executor from gaining access to

Property You Should Not Include in Your Will

There are many types of property that should not be included in your will, property that you may not realize is, or should automatically be earmarked for distribution upon your death. Jointly held property: A house or a bank account that is in joint names with another person will pass to the survivor automatically upon your death. Such joint property has what is called a right of survivorship, that is, it passes to the survivor. Nothing you say in your will can change that. Property held in a living trust: A living trust is specifically set up to facilitate the transfer of property upon the grantor’s death and to avoid probate. Therefore, the beneficiaries of a living trust automatically receive the property held by the trust upon the grantor’s death. You can always change the terms of a revocable trust during your lifetime by amending the trust documents, but you

Planning Your Estate After (or even before) a Divorce

Divorce presents many difficult issues and decisions, and there is one more set of tasks to add to your “to do” list. You need to address your will and estate plan. It could be the will and planning documents buried deep in a filing cabinet that you and your current or soon to be ex-spouse executed 10 years ago, or the one you never got around to signing. Either way, take care of it now. While the divorce is ongoing, your current spouse still has certain rights, and when the divorce is final you want to make sure you meet your legal obligations, protect your children and exercise as much control over your life and assets as possible. Below are five things you need to do: Update your healthcare proxy. If you are ill or injured and cannot communicate for yourself, who will make healthcare decisions for you? Make sure

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