Legally, of course, there are no differences anymore in estate planning or asset control. (However 200 years ago, women in the US had virtually no rights to own property or assets.) Practically speaking, however, woman in the US are poised to inherit a significant amount of money and property over the next thirty years.
Women live longer than men. For many women in the 60s and 70s they have already inherited money from their parents. And because women live longer than men, these same women are set to inherit yet another estate from their husbands.
Because of gender role assignments in the 1950s, some of these women have not been exposed to significant financial planning throughout their lives. And while no one is ever too old to learn about asset management, trying to understand complex estate issues would be difficult for anyone in a time of grieving.
Women also tend to make different spending and estate planning choices from men. Women tend to travel more and are more likely to donate to charities. An estate planner can include charitable donations as part of an estate plan, frequently helping make the financial contribution higher given forethought and planning.
Women are frequently living into their 90s. And while inheriting money from parents and husbands will help make those years easier financially, an estate planner can ensure a continuous stream of income to account for that longevity.Read More
One of the easiest ways to distribute your smaller assets (like bank accounts) is to list your beneficiaries on the accounts as recipients upon your death. When you pass away the asset will then immediately transfer to the beneficiary without any need to pass through probate.
However, when you pass your assets over without specific instructions, you might find that your assets don’t get distributed as you want. For example, you could add each adult child as a beneficiary for the bank account. And you could verbally request that the money in your bank accounts gets distributed equally among your children. Unfortunately, one of them could withdraw the full amount without consent from the other account holders.
Just a few thousands dollars could then cause a rift in your family. Work with an estate planner to clearly state your intentions in your will and create the legal mechanisms to ensure your assets are distributed accordingly. Money can have a polarizing effect within the closest of families. And while you might assume you know the financial circumstances of each of your children, chances are there are details about their personal finances they won’t share with you. Even the most seemingly responsible adult might have financial concerns that could override their loyalty to your express wishes.
Never make any assumptions when it comes to asset distribution. The passing of a loved one is a stressful time for a family. If there are any vaguaries regarding your assets, the stress of your death could translate into long-standing grudges over financial matters.Read More
If properly constructed by an estate attorney, the will has certain phrases to keep its general intent evergreen. For example, the will could use percentages instead of dollar amounts to ensure the entire estate is accounted for in the will. Instead of naming specific people, the will could use terms like “grandchildren” to ensure no one is unintentionally neglected.
If the will is more than ten years old, unaccounted dollar amounts could mean that the will is forced to go through probate court. For investors, high interest returns are fantastic. But unless those gains are accounted for through a well-worded will or updated estate plan, a measurable percent of the investment gains could end up going to pay for probate fees.
If you are a beneficiary named in an out-of-date will, hire an estate attorney to help you minimize the financial losses. The legal system will often take the “spirit” of a legal document into account; however you will need a good lawyer to help you argue this point.Read More
Not all families get along, and the promise of an influx of inherited money can fuel the flames of anger, resentment, and greed. If you have a family member who is likely to battle over life’s little details, you might need to contact a lawyer to ensure your will (or a loved one’s will) can be easily defended, if contested.
If the will is more than three or four years old, visit a lawyer and give it an update. Even if there are no changes, document the review of the will. If the will ends up being reviewed by a judge, you will have the favor of the legal system if the will was recently reviewed for fairness and accuracy.
If you (or your loved-one) has started to see a decrease in mental ability, contact a lawyer to confirm your current mental status as sufficiently sound and validate the contents of the will. Decreased mental capacity is a strong basis for contesting a will. However, if you can confirm the text of the will while still with a generally sound mind, the will won’t be vulnerable to being contested.
If the will assigns a substantial percentage to one child over another; or if it assigns a significant amount of money to an organization, visit a lawyer and confirm the details. Again, anything that stands out as unusual could be grounds for contestation.
The more documentation around the creation of will, the better. Witnesses, doctor’s notes, and the help of a good estate planner will ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you want.Read More
When you and your lawyer write your will, you write it assuming the named beneficiaries will be alive when you pass away. However, sometimes beneficiaries pass away early. And not everyone updates his or her will to keep up to date with those kinds of unfortunate and significant changes
If you don’t change your will and one of your named beneficiaries has already passed away, then the probate court will award your assets to the beneficiary’s natural successors. For example, if you name your sister as the beneficiary of your house, but she has already passed away, then your sister’s spouse and children will step in as the beneficiaries. If you have a family member you specifically, don’t want to gain from your assets, then you will have to work with your estate planner to word the document in exact and specific ways.
Several kinds of investment accounts, banking accounts, and life insurance rewards have built-in requests and/or requirements that force you name both a primary and secondary beneficiary. These documents will often take precedence over your will. Be sure to review these documents alongside your other estate planning documents to ensure there are no conflicts.Read More
Because there are several types of trusts, such as revocable and irrevocable, there is no single answer as to how you can change the trustee of a trust. The trustee is the person in charge of the money. He or she must follow the instruction in the trust and distribute the money according to those instructions. Trusts are generally intended to help families avoid complex probate problems, probate fees, and taxation.
Revocable, living trusts are generally the easiest to adjust. In fact, the grantor, the trustee, and the beneficiary are often the same person. In addition, with these trusts, it is fairly easy to execute a power of attorney to add another trustee to the trust. However, a lawyer will have to draft any changes to the trust to ensure the changes are legal and appropriate.
Irrevocable trusts are more difficult to adjust. If the trustee is alive, he or she must give consent over the change. If the trustee has passed away, then the beneficiaries must agree on a new trustee and amend the original trust.
Changing the trustee of a trust is not an easy task. Generally, you will need to hire a lawyer to ensure that the intent of the original trust remains intact. If there are several beneficiaries trying to access the same assets, a lawyer becomes a necessity.Read More
From web-based subscription services to apps for your phone, there are several services that offer secure ways to store your healthcare directive. While many of these services offer a convenient solution to quickly access to your healthcare directive, you can find simple and free ways to store your living will.
In paper form, you should store your healthcare directive at home and give one copy to your attorney. Be sure to give a copy to any relatives that might be called upon to let doctors know of your wishes.
For a digital copy, you could use a service that will store a copy for a small monthly fee. But you could also keep a copy on a service like Dropbox where you keep it in a folder that you can share with the important people in your life. These services are widely accessible on any computer or mobile phone that connects to the Internet.
In place of a digital storing service like Dropbox, you can always use web-based email service like AOL, Google, and Hotmail. Send a copy of the scanned document to yourself (or your spouse) and file it in one of your archive folders.
Whether you are at home or in a foreign country, you will want quick access to your healthcare directive. Take a few moments to assess your comfort with your digital options, and make the choice that’s right for you and your family.Read More
You can receive nourishment and hydration through a feeding tube into your stomach or an IV line into your blood. (The stomach feeding tube is generally more effective.) However, if you choose, you can opt not to take in nourishment. Generally, this is a decision to end your life in a matter of days or weeks. You should put this in writing before you are incapable of speaking for yourself as your family might be unwilling to deprive you of food and water.
Contact a lawyer and create a living will that specifically states your current desire not to be given basic sustenance. Even if you are awake, you might lose the ability to speak for yourself if a family member decides to challenge your mental capacity in court.
Refusing a feeding tube can be seen as a drastic move and could mean long conversations with emotional relatives and expensive lawyers. When you consult with your attorney, make sure to include the name of the health care agent (your representative) who you want to speak on your behalf when you become unable to do so. In addition, be sure to inform your agent of these critical decisions before you become sick or incapacitated.
End of life decisions are difficult to face. However, making those choices now, while you are healthy and able, will make the end of your life easier for your friends and family.Read More
In California, the court system will assess a fee against your estate if you die without a will. These are not estate taxes and they can’t be avoided unless you have a will. If you have a will, then most of your assets won’t have to pass through the court system and you won’t be charged much, if anything at all.
For example, if you have $125,000 in assets (including your 401k retirement account), $175,000 in equity in your house, and $50,000 worth of cars, jewelry, and household contents, then your total estate is worth $350,000.
Based on the fee schedule below you will be charged as follows:
• 4% of the first $100,000 = $4,000
• 3% of the next $100,000 = $3,000
• 2% of the next $800,000 = $3,000
The state of California will deduct $10,000 from your estate for probate fees. With the cost of an estate attorney running at a fraction of that cost, there’s no reason to delay seeing an estate attorney.Read More
A holographic will is a short-term solution for creating a will. While the holographic will won’t prevent your estate from going through probate court, a holographic will may help the probate judge assign your assets according to your wishes.
You create a holographic will by handwriting your wishes and signing your name. In order for a probate judge to acknowledge the validity of your short-term will, you will have to include some specific language. While you can find a few templates for holographic wills online, you are best served by getting the language for a holographic will from an estate attorney.
A holographic will should only be used for a few weeks. Generally, you will create a holographic will while an attorney creates or edits your permanent will. Some people wait until the end of their lives to create a will. If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have no will, create a holographic will immediately. Once you’ve finished with your official will, your holographic will be void. However, if you pass before your lawyer can finish your final will, your family will predicate the effort.Read More