The Estate Planning Process

The Estate Preparation Process

( NC) – How do I begin? Start by making a list of those you want to remember in your Will. You will want to offer your dependants initially, however here is your chance to be innovative. You can provide a meaningful product to a favourite relative, honour a friend or set up gifts to companies and charities that you think in and support.
Prepare a list of the names and addresses of all the people that you wish to include in your Will. File this list in your Essential File File.
Precision in naming the individuals and companies to whom you want to leave money or home is essential when you make your Will. Your Will should leave no room for doubt. Identify each recipient plainly and precisely. Use care, various organizations might have almost identical names. Organizations will happily provide you and your consultant( s) with all required details.
Decide upon an Administrator or Co-Executors
Among a Will’s important functions is to name an Administrator (your individual agent) to settle your estate and carry out your Will’s terms. Select your Executor with care. You might want to call co-Executors, one a relative, the other an attorney, bank or trust business. The role involves submitting income tax return, investing assets and valuing and selling (or keeping) residential or commercial property. The job of estate settlement includes submitting the Will for probate (proof of credibility), securing and inventorying all your possessions and liabilities, paying your debts and taxes, then distributing exactly what is left as your Will directs.
Among your essential estate planning choices is your choice of Administrator. Even the best-laid plans will stop working if the individual you choose is not up to the job. An Administrator needs to be:
Willing, and have the time to act.
Objective toward all beneficiaries.
Able to make choices in a prompt style.
Proficient in business, financial investment and administrative matters at a level adequate to manage your estate.
Experienced and knowledgeable in estate and trust law and administration.
Preferably, your Administrator ought to be below you
Name an alternate in case your Administrator can not act or passes away before you
An Administrator, whether an independent professional or a relative, is entitled to sensible cost from the estate
Ask the person first to make sure they comprehend all the tasks included
If you do not have a Will, or if your Will has not been updated just recently, perhaps it is time to meet with an attorney and get the job done. Take the first step; call Ontario March of Dimes
toll-free at 1-800-263-3463 x 383 for a totally free copy of “My Individual Organizer” – a convenient estate planning tool

Why A Will Is Not Enough To Save Anna Nicole Smith’s Baby Daughter?

Why A Will Is Not Enough To Save Anna Nicole Smith’s Baby Daughter?

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With much discomfort I have been forced to watch the Anna Nicole Smith probate proceedings and much more information than I wanted to know about Anna Nicole’s life events. Her reported death is everywhere: on TV, in print, magazines, online and everywhere else you can imagine. The media has made a circus of showing the legal battle going on in open court about the six-year-old will and interpretation thereof.


Would you want this to happen to you? The legal battles over the Anna Nicole Smith’s estate will go on for years. An unintended myriad of problems and a legacy left behind about her life living and beyond the grave.

A will does not avoid probate. A will does not eliminate the estate tax. If you die with a will or without a will your personal and real property has to go to probate. If you have property in more than one state, each states’ probate court has jurisdiction to probate the will.

What’s probate? Probate is a public process whereby a local court of jurisdiction (probate court) assumes the responsibility of determining who gets what. The court will determine the legitimacy of your will? Was it written with undue influence? Is it the last will? Who is the true executor (i.e. the person who will make the distributions under court jurisdiction)? Did it assign custody for minor children?

The probate court will take inventory of your personal and real property. In addition, the probate court will assign and investigate claims made against your property from potential and real creditors and even assign accountants and lawyers to drag the process.


There are two legitimate reasons for having a will. The will enables:

(1) The assignment of a custodial guardian of minor children.
(2) The assignment of an executor.

The assignment of choosing a guardian for your minor children is the most important aspect of having a will. Choose your custodian well, based on the love of your children as if you were going to be there. Traditionally, you would not choose the executor of your will to be the guardian of your minor children.

There’s a balance to be had between the Executor and the Guardian of your children. The Executor would have some degree of control if there were to be any uncontemplated issues, later in time. All other aspects of the will can be highly contested by anyone having an interest in the outcome of any distributions. Even a very well drafted will becomes a public document and must go to probate in each state where the decedent had property.

Anna Nicole’s will is a public document; even you can get a copy if you’re interested. Final disposition and battle over her estate is going to play before our eyes for years to come. Is this what you would want?


What can you do to avoid the type of media circus over your assets? Can you avoid leaving this painful legacy? An absolute and resounding YES.

Aside from the custody of minor children, a will does not provide any type of safety net over your assets. Only a Trust will avoid this public disclosure of what should be a private matter between you and your assets you leave behind.

A Trust is a Contract. If you choose to be private about your private matter, a Trust, any Trust, will avoid probate; revocable or irrevocable, grantor or non-grantor type Trusts will avoid the probate process. A Trust is not just for the rich. Any one with $200,000 or more should have a Trust.

A perfect Trust for under $500,000 is a living Trust, or a revocable Trust to avoid the probate process. Any one with significant assets should have an Irrevocable Trust. While any Trust will avoid the probate process, only an Irrevocable Trust will avoid the probate process and avoid the inheritance tax or the estate tax.


With a Revocable Trust the word “revocable” means that you have sufficient strings to revoke the contract; nullify and void it. While it will avoid going to probate and drag your dirty linen through the public process, it will not avoid the inheritance/estate tax, because on the date of your death you still owned your assets in your name.

For purposes of taxation and civil liability the “revocable” strings attached, means that you did not give up power to control and “own” on a long-term basis your assets; therefore, you are the “deemed” owner of the assets. The Estate Tax is based on what you own in your name at the date of your death. So, the Probate Process is about who gets what; the Estate Tax is about who owns what and what’s it worth for the purpose of taxation.

The estate tax is based on the “fair cash value” of your property of personal estate or real estate at the time of your death not at the time you bought it. Items that are included in your estate are cash, CD’s, real estate, investment accounts, IRA’s, vacation spot, art, jewelry, antiques, boats, planes or anything of value that could be converted to cash or near cash. Only an Irrevocable Trust avoids both the Probate Process and the Estate/Inheritance Tax.


An Irrevocable Trust is a Contract whereby you give up “any ownership claims” against your assets repositioned/transferred from you to your Irrevocable Trust. The key to dissolve your ownership claims is with an Independent Trustee.

Your “Trustee” must be “independent.” The Trustee cannot be you or any one related to you by blood or marriage. It could be your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or any in-law, but it would not be prudent. I do not recommend it since it could cause disharmony of your family unit. Death changes people; money changes people. It’s not worth the risk of forever splitting your family for the love of money. Choose your independent Trustee well.

As mentioned before, no matter how well drafted, a will must go to probate where it becomes a public document for every interested party to view and review. The only method of avoiding the probate process is to have your possessions and valuable assets titled to a Trust.

Though the tragedy of Anna Nicole Smith and her baby daughter’s plight cannot now be avoided, we can learn from this situation and apply remedial steps to our own life. Here are some things for you to consider in your life:

– All Trusts, revocable or irrevocable, grantor or non-grantor avoid Probate.
– A will does NOT avoid Probate.
– A will does NOT avoid Estate Taxes.
– Only an “Irrevocable Trust” avoids Estate/Inheritance Taxes.

What is the Difference Between a Power Of Attorney and a Guardianship? Which is Appropriate for Someone With Alzheimer’s?

Exactly what is the Distinction In between a Power Of Lawyer and a Guardianship? Which is Suitable for Someone With Alzheimer’s?

A power of attorney is a legal file in which a single person (the principal) licenses another (the representative) to act on his/her behalf. Financial powers of lawyer enable your agent to make decisions regarding your property. Healthcare powers of attorney enable your agent to make decisions concerning your healthcare needs.
A power of lawyer allows you to appoint another person to manage your monetary and business affairs when you can not do it yourself anymore.
This document can be a lifesaver when crisis scenarios take place after a mishap or illness. The representative can do whatever the document allows, such as withdraw bank funds, pay bills, money checks, and buy and sell real estate. The power of attorney is less pricey and more private than a guardianship.
Guardianship, on the other hand, is a legal relationship where a probate court provides an individual (the guardian) the power to make individual choices for another (the ward).
A relative or a friend can start the proceedings by submitting a petition in the court of probate in the county where the private resides. A medical examination by a certified doctor may be required to develop the person’s condition. A law court will then determine whether the individual is not able to satisfy the important requirements for his/her health and safety.
A conservatorship is a legal relationship whereby the court of probate gives an individual (the conservator) the power to make monetary decisions for another (the protectee). The court proceedings are extremely much like those of a guardianship other than the court determines whether a specific does not have the capacity to handle his/her monetary affairs. If so, the court designates a conservator to make financial choices for the individual. Typically the court appoints the same individual to act as both guardian and conservator for the individual. Like the guardian, the conservator is required to report to the court annual.
With all this in mind, you must examine your situation.
Exactly what would you do if you could not manage your own affairs? You may wish to seek advice from a lawyer concentrating on Elder Law, who will have the ability to help you and recommend you in this matter. By doing this now when you still have the time, you will save yourself and your liked ones heartache and monetary expenses in the future.

Essential Subjects of Online Paralegal Studies

Essential Topics of Online Paralegal Researches

A paralegal degree or education made through online paralegal studies must have the same quality of education as that of regular paralegal schools; for it is through education that a paralegal acquires the germane and crucial lessons he needs in being successful in the paralegal occupation.
Online paralegal studies need to have a curriculum approved by the American Bar Association and other international associations for paralegals to guarantee that trainees who would take the online paralegal degree would have the competitive and quality type of online paralegal studies.
In online paralegal studies, it is very important that the trainees must take the necessary subjects primarily law topics due to the fact that this is going to be the foundation of themselves as excellent and competitive paralegals. A few of the topics to be consisted of in online paralegal research studies are:

* American Jurisprudence– this is necessary to trainees taking online paralegal research studies and planning to work in American countries. It consists of a comprehensive study of the nature of the judiciary and the court system; the federal and state court distinctions; special and/or inferior state and federal courts; the nature of jurisdiction and location; the administrative process and the nature of law and corresponding judicial power.
* Estates, Trusts and Probate— this will inform students of online paralegal research studies in information the preliminary planning and preparation required for an extensive estate plan.
* Torts and Personal Injury– a subject that would inform and teach the students about the torts and the tort law.
* Legal Composing– must be taught likewise in online paralegal studies because most of the paralegal tasks involve composing and preparing.
* Legal Research study– a paralegal needs to know how to conduct a research study, that’s why this subject should be likewise provided priority.
* Ethics and Professional Responsibility– It is an extensive review of the law of expert duty as it impacts paralegals, recognizing and resolving ethical issues, and useful suggestions to use in everyday practice. The modes and guidelines of this that will be consisted of in online paralegal research studies need to be in accordance with the requirements of ABA and National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
* Civil Lawsuits– this would be an intriguing subject considering that some paralegal are allowed to come in court and do some preparations for litigations.
* Other laws such as household law; criminal law; work law and other useful law subjects. Paralegals, however are not thinking about going into the law school to become attorneys, they must understand or have understanding on these subjects because as they go into the paralegal occupation, they would be handling these subjects.

Personal Financial Planning

Personal Financial Planning

On any given day, 1 in 25 #hospital patients contract at least one #infection
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5 must-ask questions
(NC)-Beware of estate organizers charging little or nothing to prepare your estate strategy. They are likely making a commission on the investment items they advise – which could jeopardize the neutrality of their recommendations. And note that proficient estate planners should offer a holistic technique to estate preparation. That is, an objective and proficient adviser offers more than financial investment strategies or monetary preparation recommendations.
When looking for the right estate preparation consultant, consider these essential concerns:
Exactly what is your previous estate planning experience and have you worked with customers like me?
Do you have in-depth knowledge of appropriate legislation such as income tax law, provincial family law and probate acts?
How do you set your fees? Do you sell life insurance, mutual funds or other investment products?
I wish to set time lines and how can you help me fulfill those deadlines?
Can you refer me to other experts, as needed, such as a legal representative or an accountant?
For more details, see Grant Thornton LLP is a leading Canadian company of chartered accounting professionals and management consultants.

Leaving time shares and probates to loved ones

Leaving time shares and probates to liked ones

People who deal with time shares and probate problems have the difficulty of deciding what will take place to the home. For those who do not know, probate is the legal procedure of moving the property of a person upon their death. Time shares and probate costs a lot of time and money.

Time shares and probates are typically not an issue especially when the deceased left a will that will be performed by the household’s attorney. Squabbles of time share properties can occur which is why it is suggested to consist of the time shares and probate while doing your estate planning.

What takes place to the time shares throughout probate? The probate procedure can be contested or uncontested. Most issues emerge within the time shares and probate process since a dissatisfied heir desires a larger share of the deceased’s home than that she or he at first received.

Arguments frequently raised consist of: the deceased being improperly influenced in making the presents, the departed did not know or was not familiar with exactly what they were doing when the will was carried out, and the deceased did not follow the legal formalities in preparing the will. Most of time shares and probate estates are uncontested.

The basic procedure of transferring an estate consists of:

· Gathering all the residential or commercial property of the deceased;
· Paying all claims, debts and taxes owed by its estate;
· Collecting all rights to dividends, earnings, and so on;
· Settling any disputes; and lastly,
· Dispersing the staying property to the beneficiaries.

Usually, the deceased names an individual (executor) to deal with the management of his/her affairs upon death. If the departed fails to name one, an appointment by the court will happen such as an individual agent or administrator, to settle the will and estate.

There are 3 common estate-planning tools that can be used to prevent time shares and probate in the circulation of the individual’s residential or commercial property at death: joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, revocable trusts and beneficiary classifications. Joint occupancy applies to all property types other than retirement plans. Revocable trusts can be utilized with all types of property. Beneficiary classifications are for life insurance coverage, specific retirement accounts and retirement strategies.

At this moment, time shares and probate can be prepared with these 3 tools in mind. In the lack of a will, the very best device to fix time shares and probate problems is the through a revocable trust. Revocable trusts or often called “living trusts” have the following advantages over wills:

– Personal privacy. Monetary affairs and to whom the home is provided are private. Wills and inventories of probate estates are a public record.

-Expense Cost savings. The trustee just ahs to continue the deceased’s monetary obligatios to the assets, hence removing time shares and probate expenses.

-Convenience. A revocable trust makes it easier to pass time shares and probate residential or commercial properties to the trustee.

– Connection. Revocable trusts work as an extention of the deceased as he provides the duties to the trustee after death to foot the bill, pay taxes, and to manage the time shares and probate and disperse possessions right away.

-Stability. Revocable trusts generally do not need to be changed since of transferring to another estate.

-Security. Revocable trusts are more difficult to be legally contested after death specifically for time shares and probate properties.

Whether a will or a revocable trust is decided to settle time shares and probate residential or commercial properties, factor to consider should be offered to the executor of the will as well as to the alternate executors. The same factor to consider chooses respect to the initial trustee and successor trustees for the time shares and probate.

A deceased might wish to select to manage time shares and probate more than one follower trustee or executor as well as the successor trustee and administrator can be an individual or business entities like a bank trust department.

To avoid conflicts in time shares and probate, normally it is advised that the follower trustees and executors be the very same person. A good estate plan must be able to distribute the property to whoever the testator wishes when the testator wishes, with a minimum quantity of income, estate, and estate tax and most affordable possible attorney’s charges and other expenses. Avoiding time shares and probate can be a huge relief to the deceased and their household.

Death And Taxes – Two Certainties Of Life

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(NC)-There are no estate taxes or succession responsibilities in Canada. However, taxes upon death have not disappeared. When an individual passes away, there is a ‘deemed personality’ of all capital home. What does that suggest? It means that the government deals with all your home or business (unless collectively held) such stocks, bonds, RRSPs, property, etc as cost fair market value on the day of your death. Your estate will be required to pay capital gains tax on that residential or commercial property. This uses to your RRSP if you do not have a spouse to whom you can move it. Mindful planning can minimize or postpone the taxes owing. Without an estate strategy, you could lose nearly half of the worth of your gains to taxes. While your Executor may claim full individual exemptions on your final income tax return, your estate may wind up paying taxes at the highest tax rate (over 50%). If you do not have a Will, or if your Will has not been upgraded just recently, it may be a great time to obtain the job done to prevent tax issues.
What is Probate?
“Probate” is the recognition by the provincial court of the credibility of your Will and the consultation of the person named as your Administrator. Granting of the “letters probate” is notice to the general public that your Will abide by the standard official requirements and that the Will was not being challenged at the time of application.
Reducing Probate Fees
In some provinces, the Executor must apply to the court for “letters probate” in order to begin administering an estate. These fees are payable to the provincial government based upon the worth of particular properties in your estate. There have been boosts throughout the years in provincial probate charges. There are ways to arrange your affairs to decrease these probate costs. Again, estate planning helps determine these concerns and decrease any unfavorable effect on your estate.
It sounds complicated!
Estate planning need not be made complex or expensive. First, who understands better than you exactly what you want maded with the important things that you’ve worked all your life to develop. Second, look for the expert recommendations of a professional to direct you on the financial and legal ramifications to make sure that you get the most beneficial tax treatment possible.
If you do not have a Will, or if your Will has actually not been updated just recently, possibly it is time to meet a legal representative and do the job. Take the initial step; call Ontario March of Dimes toll-free at 1-800-263-3463 x 383 for a totally free copy of “My Personal Organizer” – a helpful estate preparation tool.

Now is the Time to Become a Paralegal

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Are you interested in legal work, but not law school? You might want to think about a paralegal degree. Lawyers are ultimately obligation for the legal services they offer their clients; paralegals– likewise known as legal assistants– aid attorneys in practically every element of their work. Being among the fastest growing careers nationwide, those with paralegal training will have the ability to discover jobs in every part of the country.

The American Bar Association (ABA) specifies the function of a paralegal or legal assistant as a person that is capable by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law workplace, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who carries out particularly entrusted substantive legal work for which an attorney is responsible.

Paralegals provide important help to lawyers by helping them prepare for closings, hearing, trials and business meetings. Paralegals also help attorneys at trials, draft agreements and arrangements, and help in estate planning. The important employees likewise preserve office monetary records, and coordinate the activities of law office staff members. Their duties can also consist of researching legal files, finding witnesses, getting affidavits, and tracking case files. Depending on where you choose to work, your paralegal tasks can vary extensively.

The most typical paralegal programs are associate’s degree programs offered at community colleges or specialized schools. These are usually 2-year programs. There are also certificate programs and online paralegal programs. Certificate programs are an equally popular paralegal training choice. The majority of certificate programs are intended for students who have an associates or bachelor’s degree. Some certificate programs just require a high school diploma or GED for admission. Certificate programs are usually completed in a number of months. There are likewise a little number of schools that provide 4-year bachelors and/or master’s degrees in paralegal studies.

Paralegal degree and certificate programs usually consist of courses that introduce students to law and legal research study techniques. Some trainees may choose to study a specialized legal area such as probate or real estate. Paralegals in small to medium-size law office typically perform duties that need basic law understanding. Paralegals used by big law practice, government firms, and corporations, are usually most likely to be specialized. The legal assistant/paralegal occupation is anticipated to grow by 33% during the very first Ten Years of 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Data. With projections of growth, now is a good time to earn your paralegal degree.

California Estate Planning

California Estate Planning

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Estate planning is a process. It involves people -your family, other individuals and in many cases charitable organizations of your choice. It also involves your assets and all the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take.
As you plan your estate, you will consider:
* How your assets will be managed for your benefit if you are unable to do so
* When certain assets will be transferred to others, either during your lifetime, at your death, or sometime after your death
* To whom those assets will pass
Estate planning also addresses your welfare and needs, planning for your own personal care and health care if you are no longer able to care for yourself. Like many people, you may at first think that estate planning is simply the writing of a will. But it encompasses much more. As you will see, estate planning may involve financial, tax, medical and business planning. A will is one part of that planning process, but other documents are needed to fully address your estate planning needs. The purpose of this material is to summarize the estate planning process and how it can address and meet your goals and objectives.
As you consider it further, you will realize that estate planning is a dynamic process. Just as people, assets and laws change, it may well be necessary to adjust your estate plan every so often to reflect those changes.
In starting to consider your estate plan, I ask my clients to complete a brief questionnaire to answer the first of the following questions and during our initial meeting we discuss the other questions:
* What are my assets and what is their approximate value?
* Whom do I want to receive those assets -and when?
* Who should manage those assets if I cannot, either during my lifetime or after my death?
* Who should have the responsibility for the care of my minor children, if any, if I become incapacitated or die?
* If I cannot take care of myself, who should make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare?
Whatever the size of your estate, you should designate the person who, in the event of your incapacity, will have the responsibility for the management of your assets and your care, including the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf. How that is accomplished is discussed below in this material. If your estate is small in value, you may focus simply upon who is to receive your assets after your death and who should be in charge of its management and distribution.
If your estate is larger, we will discuss with you not only who is to receive your assets and when, but also various ways to preserve your assets for your beneficiaries and to reduce or postpone the amount of estate tax which otherwise might be payable on your death.
If one does no planning, then California law provides for the court appointment of persons to take responsibility for your personal care and assets. California also provides for the distribution of assets in your name to your heirs pursuant to a set of rules to be followed if you die without a will; this is known as “intestate succession. ” If you die without a will and if you have any relatives (whether through your own family or that of your spouse), regardless of how remote, they will be your heirs. Nonetheless, they may not be the people you would want to inherit from you; therefore, a living trust or a will is the preferable approach.
Your estate consists of all property or interests in property which you own. The simplest examples are those assets which are in your name alone, such as a bank account, real estate, stocks and bonds, furniture, furnishings and jewelry.
You may also hold property in many forms of title other than in your name alone. Joint tenancy is a common form of ownership which takes assets away from control by will or living trust. Beneficiary designations on securities accounts and bank accounts are alternatives which must be carefully considered as well.
Finally, assets which have beneficiary designations, such as life insurance, IRAs, qualified retirements plans and some annuities are very important parts of your estate which require careful coordination with your other assets in developing your estate plan.
The value of your estate is equal to the “fair market value” of each asset that you own, minus your debts, including a mortgage on your home or a loan on your car.
The value of your estate is important in determining whether, and to what extent, your estate will be subject to estate taxes upon your death. Planning for the resources needed to meet that obligation at your death is another important part of the estate planning process.
A will is a traditional legal document which is effective only at your death to:
* Name individuals (or charitable organizations) to receive your assets upon your death (either by outright gift or in trust)
* Nominate an executor, appointed and supervised by the probate court, to manage your estate, pay debts and expenses, pay taxes, and distribute your estate in an accountable manner and in accordance with your will
* Nominate the guardians of the person and estate of your minor children, to care and provide for your minor children
Assets or interests in property in your name alone at your death will be subject to your will and subject to the administration of the probate court, generally in the county where you reside at your death.
A revocable living trust is also commonly referred to as a revocable inter vivos trust, a grantor trust or, simply, a living trust. A living trust may be amended or revoked by the person creating it (commonly known as “trustor,” “grantor,” or “settlor”) at any time during the trustor’s lifetime, as long as the trustor is competent.
A trust is a written agreement between the individual creating the trust and the person or institution named to manage the assets held in the trust (the “trustee”). In many cases, it is appropriate for you to be the initial trustee of your living trust, until management assistance is anticipated or required, at which point your trust should designate an individual, bank or trust company to act in your place.
The terms of the trust become irrevocable upon the trustor’s death. Because the trust contains provisions which provide for the distribution of your assets on and after your death, the trust acts as a substitute for your will, and eliminates the need for the probate of your will with respect to those assets which were held in your living trust at your death.
You should execute a will even if you have a living trust. That will is usually a “pour over” will which provides for the transfer of any assets held in your name at your death to the trustee of your living trust, so that those assets may be distributed in accordance with your wishes as set forth in your living trust.
Probate is the court-supervised process developed under California law which has as its goal the transfer of your assets at your death to the beneficiaries set forth in your will, and in the manner prescribed by your will. It also provides for the relatively quick determination of valid claims of any creditors who have claims against your assets at your death.
At the beginning of probate administration, a petition is filed with the court, usually by the person or institution named in your will as executor. After notice is given, and a hearing is held, your will is admitted to probate and an executor is appointed. If you die “intestate” (that is, without a will), your estate is still subject to probate court administration and the person appointed by the court to handle your estate is known as the “administrator. “
If the assets in your name alone at your death do not include an interest in real estate and have a total value of less than $100,000, then generally the beneficiaries under your will may follow a statutory procedure to effect the transfer of those assets pursuant to your will, subject to your debts and expenses, without a formal court-supervised probate administration.
A probate has advantages and disadvantages. The probate court is accustomed to resolving disputes about the distribution of your assets in a relatively expeditious fashion and in accordance with defined rules. In addition, you are assured that the actions and accountings of your executor will be reviewed and approved by the probate court.
Disadvantages of a probate include its public nature; your estate plan and the value of your assets becomes a public record. Also, because lawyer’s fees and executor’s commissions are based upon a statutory fee schedule computed upon the gross (not the net) value of the assets being probated, the expenses may be greater than the expenses incurred by a comparable estate managed and distributed under a living trust. Time can also be a factor; often distributions can be made pursuant to a living trust more quickly than in a probate proceeding.
Once you have determined who should receive your assets at your death, I can help you clarify and appropriately identify your beneficiaries. For instance, it is most important to clearly identify by correct name any charitable organizations you wish to provide for; many have similar names and in some families, individuals have similar or even identical names.
It is also important for you to consider alternative distribution of your assets in the event that your primary beneficiary does not survive you.
As for beneficiaries who by reason of age or other infirmity may not be able to handle assets distributed to them outright, trusts for their benefit may be created under your will or living trust.
After your death, the executor of your will and the trustee of your living trust serve almost identical functions. Both are responsible for ensuring that your wishes, as set forth in your will or living trust, are implemented. Although your executor is generally subject to direct court supervision, both the executor and the trustee have similar fiduciary responsibilities. The trustee of your living trust may assume responsibilities under that document while you are living.
While you may act as the initial trustee of your living trust, if you become incapable of functioning as a trustee, the designated successor trustee will then step in to manage your assets for your benefit. An executor or trustee may be a spouse, adult children, other relatives, family friends, business associates or a professional fiduciary such as a bank.
I discuss this matter will my clients. There are a number of issues to consider. For example, will the appointment of one of your adult children cause undue stress in his or her relations with siblings? What conflicts of interest are created if a business associate or partner is named as your executor or trustee? Will the person named as executor or successor trustee have the time, organizational ability and experience to do the job effectively?
A minor child is a child under 18 years of age. If both parents are deceased, a minor child is not legally qualified under California law to care for himself or herself. In your will, therefore, you should nominate a guardian of the person of your minor children to supervise that child and be responsible for his or her care until the child is 18 years old.
Such a nomination can avoid a “tug of war” between well-meaning family members and others if a guardian is required.
A minor is also not legally qualified to manage his or her own property. Assets transferred outright to a minor must be held for the minor’s benefit by a guardian of the child’s estate, until the child attains 18 years of age. You should nominate such a guardian in your will as well. In providing for minor children in your estate plan, you should consider the use of a trust for the child’s benefit, to be held, administered and distributed for the child’s benefit until the child is at least 18 years old or some other age as you may decide. You may also consider a custodian account under the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act as an alternative in making specific gifts to minors.
Estate taxes are imposed upon an estate which has a net value, in 2002, of $1,000,000 or more. Under current law, that amount will increase, in uneven increments, to $3,500,000 in 2009. Estate taxes are scheduled to be repealed for 2010. In 2011, estate taxation will revert to the law which existed before the enactment of the 2001 tax law changes, so that an estate which has a net value of $1,000,000 or more will be subject to estate taxes. (See Estate Planning Under the 2001 Tax Relief Act: What To Know And What To Do). For estates which approach or exceed the exemption amount, significant estate taxes can be saved by proper estate planning, usually before death and, in the case of married couples, before the death of the first spouse. Estate planning for taxation purposes must take into account not only estate taxes, but also income, gift, property and generation-skipping taxes as well. Qualified legal advice about taxes should be obtained during the estate planning pr!
The nature of your assets and how you hold title to those assets is a critical factor in the estate planning process. Before you change title to an asset, you should understand the tax and other consequences of any proposed change. I will be able to advise you about such matters.
Community property and separate property
If you are married, assets earned by either you or your spouse while married and while a resident of California are community property. On the other hand, a married individual may own separate property as a result of assets owned prior to marriage or received by gift or inheritance during marriage. There are significant tax considerations which need to be addressed in the estate planning process with respect to both community property and separate property. There are also significant property interests to consider.
Separate property can be “transmuted” (that is, changed) to community property by a written agreement signed by both spouses and drafted in conformity with California law.
It is important to seek competent legal advice when determining what character your property is and how the property should be titled.
Joint Tenancy Property
Regardless of its source, if a property is held in joint tenancy, it will pass to the surviving joint tenant by operation of law upon the death of the first joint tenant. On the other hand, property held as community property or as tenants in common, will be subject to the will of a deceased owner.
A number of assets are transferred at death by beneficiary designation, such as:
* Life insurance proceeds
* Qualified or non-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and IRAs
* Certain “trustee” bank accounts
* “Transfer on death” (or “TOD”) securities accounts
* “Pay on death” (or “POD”) assets, a common title on U.S. Savings bonds
These beneficiary designations must be carefully coordinated with your overall estate plan. Your will does not govern the distribution of these assets.
If you do not make any arrangements in advance, a court-supervised conservatorship proceeding may be required if you become incapacitated.
Conservatorships are proceedings which allow the court to appoint the person responsible for your care and for the management of your estate if you are unable to do so yourself.
You should, therefore, select the person or persons you wish to care for you and your estate in the event that you become incapable of managing your assets or providing for your own care.
With respect to the management of your assets, the trustee of your living trust will provide the necessary management of those assets held in trust. However, to deal with assets which may not have been transferred to your living trust prior to your incapacity or which you may receive after incapacity, a durable power of attorney for property management should be considered. In such a power, you appoint another individual (the “attorney-in-fact”) to make property management decisions on your behalf. The attorney-in-fact manages your assets and functions much as a conservator of your estate would function, but without court supervision. The authority of the attorney-in-fact to manage your assets ceases at your death.
A durable power of attorney for health care allows your attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions for you when you can no longer make them yourself. It may also contain statements of wishes concerning such matters as life sustaining treatment and other health care issues and instructions concerning organ donation, disposition of remains and your funeral.
Can I Do It Myself?
Wills and trusts are legal documents which should be prepared only by a qualified lawyer.
You should be wary of organizations or offices who are staffed by non-lawyer personnel and who promote “one size fits all” living trusts or living trust kits. An estate plan created by someone who is not a qualified lawyer can have enormous and costly consequences for your estate and may not achieve your goals and objectives. However, many other professionals and business representatives may become involved in the estate planning process. For example, certified public accountants, life insurance salespersons, bank trust officers, financial planners, personnel managers and pension consultants often participate in the state planing process. Within their areas of expertise, these professionals can assist in planning your estate.
The costs of estate planning depend on your individual circumstances and the complexity of documentation and planning required to achieve your goals and objectives. The costs generally will include my charges for putting your financial information into my computerized estate planning program which enables me to graphically show you the effects of alternate plans, discussing your estate plan with you and for preparing your will, trust agreement or other legal documents which you may need.

How can an estate plan help me?

How can an estate plan assist me?

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Do you know how your life will be divided after your death? Who will your estate go to Who will take care of your children? With an estate strategy you decide. You are in control of your household’s security on the occasion that something tragic need to happen. Now possibly you are a little foggy with some of the fundamental ideas related to estate planning. Let’s start at the start.

Inning accordance with Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law estate preparation is:
The scheduling the disposition and management of one’s estate at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance plan, and other device

Your estate is everything you own, your possessions and liabilities. This consists of things such as your house, account in your name, your insurance coverage, and vehicles. The issue with dying without an efficient estate plan is that even if your home or business is distributed to the correct individuals, a process known as “probate court” may cost your heirs as much as 10% of your assets net worth. Likewise you need to take any children that you are the legal guardian of into consideration. If you do not have an estate plan it may be court of probate that decides who takes care of them after them after you are gone.

You don’t wish to let this happen to you and your family. You need an estate plan. Now, in order to begin estate preparation you are going to have to look into the following options: living wills, revocable living trusts.

A living will is a document in which you can spell out where all of your assets will be going. You might likewise customize this document at anytime. You are the one in control. This is a great way to avoid court of probate.

A living trust enables you to call a person who will handle all of your legal affairs after you die. Your trust might either be revocable or irrevocable. Revocable ways that, much like a living will, you can customize it at any time. Nevertheless, in an irreversible living trust you do not have the capability to alter it.

Having an estate strategy can assist your household prevent lots of challenges after your passing. Don’t let your entire life fall into the incorrect hands. Take control. Make an estate strategy today.