What Is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.” The rules or instructions under which the trustee operates are set out in the trust instrument. Trusts have one set of beneficiaries during their lives and another set — often their children — who begin to benefit only after the first group has died. The first are often called “life beneficiaries” and the second “remaindermen.” There can be several advantages to establishing a trust, depending on

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The Basics of Estate Administration

Estate administration is the process of managing and distributing a person’s property (the “estate”) after death.  If the person had a will, the will goes through probate, which is the process by which the deceased person’s property is passed to his or her heirs and legatees (people named in the will). The entire process, supervised by the probate court, usually takes about a year. However, substantial distributions from the estate can be made in the interim. The emotional trauma brought on by the death of a close family member often is accompanied by bewilderment about the financial and legal steps

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Four Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Digital Estate

While the internet makes our lives more convenient, it also adds new complications.  For example, what happens to all our online data and assets if we become disabled or die? Whether or not we spend half our lives responding to devices, we all transact a lot of our daily business online — buying items on Amazon, paying our bills through online bank programs, accumulating and using airline miles, reallocating our investments, saving photos, listening to music, watching movies, or planning trips. And that’s not even mentioning dating sites or social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. So, what happens

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When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Once you’ve created an estate plan, it is important to keep it up to date. You will need to revisit your plan after certain key life events, including marriage, the birth of children, divorce or the death of a spouse, and a significant increase or decrease in assets.  Here’s why. Marriage Whether it is your first or a later marriage, you will need to update your estate plan after you get married. A spouse does not automatically become your heir once you get married. Depending on state law, your spouse may get one-third to one-half of your estate, and the rest

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5 Key Questions to Answer When Creating Your Will

If you don’t want important decisions to be left up to the state when you’re gone, you need a will. If the idea of creating a will feels like you’re tempting fate, think of it as a road map you’re leaving your family, so they don’t have to stress over making the right decisions on your behalf. First, you need to understand the differences between a living will and a last will and testament, usually referred to as a will. These are two different documents that serve different purposes. A living will serves to state your wishes in the event

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Five Topics to Discuss With Your Spouse Before You Retire

You may have a vision for your retirement, but does your spouse share that vision? Spouses often disagree about many key retirement details. It is important to work together to come up with a plan you both can accept. Many husbands and wives are not in accord about retirement. For example, a study by Fidelity Investments found that one-third of couples disagreed or didn’t know where they were going to live in retirement, and 62 percent didn’t agree on their expected retirement ages. Here are some important things to discuss with your spouse as you get ready to retire: Timing

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