Estate Planning Basics: Comparing Powers of Attorney and Living Wills

No Time Like the Uncertain Present to Prepare for the Certain Future While it is always the time to get your affairs in order, since putting off these important decisions can lead to financial and emotional pain for your survivors, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought mortality to the forefront of many minds and has brought home the urgency of planning for one’s end-of-life care. In this article, we will review two legal tools available to you regarding end-of-life issues—and that you almost certainly should add to your “emergency envelope” for caregivers and next-of-kin. These two important documents are a

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Understanding the Common Types of Trusts

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.” Trusts fall into two basic categories: testamentary and inter vivos. A testamentary trust is one created by your will, and it does not come into existence until you die. In contrast, an inter vivos trust, starts during your lifetime. You create it now and it exists during your life. There are two kinds of inter vivos trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Revocable Trusts Revocable trusts are often

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Single? You Still Need an Estate Plan

Many people believe that if they are single, they don’t need a will or other estate planning documents. But estate planning is just as important for single people as it is for couples and families. Estate planning allows you to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want. If you do not have an estate plan, the state will decide who gets your property and who will make decisions for you should you become incapacitated, and these aren’t necessarily the choices you would have wanted. An estate plan can

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How to Divide Up Personal Possessions Without Dividing the Family

Allocating your personal possessions can be one of the most difficult tasks when creating an estate plan. To avoid family feuds after you are gone, it is important to have a plan and make your wishes clear. When passing on possessions to your heirs, savings and investments are easy to divide up, since they can be turned into cash. Real estate can also be turned into cash or co-owners can share it. The most difficult items to divvy up are personal possessions—silverware, dishes, artwork, furniture, tools, jewelry — items that are unique and don’t have a set resale value. In

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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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