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Blog - Michael Weinstein
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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

What Are The Components of an Estate Plan?

What is an Estate Plan? The dictionary definition of an estate plan is “the arranging for the disposition and management of one’s estate at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance policies, and other devices.” All adults should have a plan for their estates, and as we age the importance of estate planning increases. People often avoid dealing with estate plans because thinking about end-of-life decisions can be uncomfortable. Some people believe that estate planning is only for wealthy people. Although thinking about end-of-life decisions may be difficult, it is very important, and the level of one’s wealth has nothing to do with the need for an estate plan. What is Included in an Estate Plan? An “estate” is all of the property you own individually, or jointly if married. This includes bank and investment accounts, real estate, jewelry, vehicles, family heirlooms, and any other items of value.  An

Some Details in the Estate Settlement Process

Whether you need to appoint someone to be the executor of your own estate, or whether you have been chosen as the executor of someone else’s estate, it is important think about the complexity of the task and the order in which you will complete it. The responsibilities of an Executor can include: Contacting the funeral home and making arrangements, Communicating with family members, local businesses, and agencies, Organizing and creating a schedule for what needs to happen and when it must be done. It is easy to overlook essential details if you do not have a clear plan or professional guidance. Death Certificates/Legal Notices Immediately upon someone’s death, it is necessary to acquire a legal pronouncement of the death from either the decedent’s hospital, nursing facility, or hospice care in the home. Eventually, death certificates, which are most often obtained from a funeral home, will need to be sent

The Legal Documents You Need When You Travel; The Legal Documents You Need When Your Child Turns 18

It may seem morbid to prepare or assemble estate planning and health care documents for healthy young people, or in anticipation of traveling for a vacation, but accidents and illnesses happen, and for young adults about to leave home, it is especially important that they have appropriate planning documents once they reach the age of 18, because parents will then no longer have access to or control over their children’s health care information, decisions, or finances. There are two essential planning documents that everyone should have digital copies of on their phone or tablet when they travel, and make sure that their 18 year old children sign to insure that proper measures can be taken in the event of an emergency: a Health Care Proxy, and a Durable Power of Attorney. When your children turn 18, you no longer have the authority to talk to their doctors or make healthcare

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

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