Estate Planning

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Probing Probate: What You Should Know

Probate is a term that is used in several different ways. Probate can refer to the act of presenting a will to a court officer for filing — such as, to [more…]

Benefits of Setting Up a Trust

Trusts are an important part of your estate plan when you want to leave money to your minor children. Trusts ensure that money, managed by a trustee, is set aside and made available to them when they reach [more…]

What Is a Trust?

A trust agreement is a document that spells out the rules that you want followed for property held in trust for your beneficiaries. Common objectives for trusts are to reduce the estate tax liability, [more…]

What to Include in a Simple Will

Almost always, a simple will is the will of choice for you. A simple will is a single legal document that applies only to you (unlike a joint will for you and your spouse). A simple will describes [more…]

Avoiding Estate Taxes with an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

One common way to get around estate taxes on your life insurance is to create an irrevocable life insurance trust. You transfer the ownership of your life insurance policy to the trust, effectively taking [more…]

Estate Planning with Protective Trusts to Cover Your Assets

Protective trusts — spendthrift, supplemental needs and special needs, education, and minor’s trusts — let you parcel out money when you feel the time is right or specify exactly how the trust money is [more…]

What Are Grantor-Retained Trusts All About?

Grantor-retained trusts let you create a “noncharitable” trust. Instead of the property in the trust eventually going to a charitable organization, the property goes to [more…]

Trust Fund Payment Plans: Intervivos and Testamentary

A trust that makes annual payments to a beneficiary while you’re still alive is an intervivos trust. If you set up a trust to become effective and start making payments after your death, you’ve set up [more…]

Status of Your Will: Testate or Intestate?

If you have a valid will, you are said to die testate, meaning you have spelled out your intentions completely and legally in your last will and testament. A will status of intestate [more…]

Beyond the Simple Will: Other Kinds of Wills

Although the simple will is right for just about everyone, you do have other options for your will. Other types of wills, along with the drawbacks of each, include: [more…]

How to Bypass Probate with Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy means that you share ownership of property. Property held in joint tenancy isn’t part of the probate process; creditors don’t have access to property held as joint tenants. [more…]

How to Protect Your Property from the Estate Recovery Act

The Estate Recovery Act technically isn’t a tax, but it involves the government taking money out of your estate after you die. In fact, the Estate Recovery Act can have a far more devastating impact on [more…]

Making Sense of Your State's Inheritance and Estate Taxes

Some states are repealing or phasing out their inheritance or estate taxes, but other states that currently don’t have estate-related taxes are instituting an inheritance or estate tax. Whereas most state [more…]

How to Make Your Will a Reflection of Your Wishes

Even the simplest wills are filled with confusing legal terminology. Discuss your will requirements with an attorney: Cover the value of your estate and your tax situation, the individuals and institutions [more…]

Reasons Why You May Want to Change Your Will

Your will is a living document. Although a will’s intent is to provide for what happens to your estate after you have died, your will needs to change as your life changes. Don’t make the mistake of putting [more…]

What Are Charitable Trusts All About?

Setting up a charitable trust to leave property to a qualified charitable organization can reduce your estate taxes similar to the way giving gifts to charitable organizations offers the charitable deduction [more…]

Using Will Substitutes to Reduce Estate Taxes

Why would you want to use a will substitute (a legal agreement that transfers ownership upon your death) rather than your will for certain property? Property covered by a will substitute is transferred [more…]

Estate Planning with Homestead Statutes in Mind

You definitely want your home to be protected after you die. Some states have homestead allowance statutes to make sure that your spouse and any minor children have a place to live after you die. Your [more…]

Federal Laws Help Ease Tax Burden in Estate Planning

The federal tax system includes a gift tax, generation skipping transfer tax (GSTT), and estate (death) tax that work together to make as much of your estate as possible disappear. The laws and rules for [more…]

How to Pay Living Expenses While Money's Tied Up in Probate

Your unanticipated death could create an immediate financial crisis for your family. Family allowance statutes enable the probate court to provide money for the support of your spouse and minor children [more…]

Calculating the Value of Everything You Own for Estate Planning

Before you can plan how to distribute your assets after your death, you need to understand what your estate is. In the most casual sense, your estate is your stuff or all your possessions. In addition [more…]

Are You Spending Too Much for Investment Management?

Many people believe they must spend a lot of money to receive quality investment management services. That may have been true once, but it isn’t true any longer. Professional investment management services [more…]

Estate Planning First Steps: How Much Is Your Estate Worth?

Estate planning is all about what you want to have happen to you, your dependents, and your stuff when you’re gone. Estate planning also covers what happens if you’re alive but can’t make decisions for [more…]

Is Your Estate Subject to Federal Estate Tax?

You may be one of the few people whose estate would have to pay federal gift or estate taxes, meaning that some of your “stuff” may end up going to Uncle Sam. How do you know if you’re in that situation [more…]

Understanding Estate Planning Designations

Estate planning provides for the efficient and effective transfer of assets at your death. You may have heard of terms like joint tenants and beneficiary designations [more…]

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