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Is My Will a Shield Against Probate?

November 15, 2017

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There are so many different myths out there surrounding the process of estate planning that it is often too late after someone realizes that a mistake has been made. You may have experienced a loved one who has passed away and left inadequate estate planning instructions. These can be catastrophic and extremely difficult emotionally for family members to handle in the wake of grief. planning with a will

For this reason, you need to engage in the process of estate planning early and update your estate plan on a regular basis. One common mistake that people make is thinking of their will as their only tool and shield against probate. Many people are under the impression that if they have a will that they do not need to go through the court system or probate.

Revocable living trusts are a tool that enable you to avoid probate; however, the revocable trust is not effective unless your assets are retitled into the trust name. If you hold the assets in your name alone without a beneficiary designation then the assets are distributed in accordance with the terms of your will.

Before any assets can be collected or distributed with the help of your executor, you have to go through the court system and probate. You may be able to express who is eligible to receive what in your will but this situation could still end up in the courts determining the distribution of assets. It is much better to engage in the process of estate planning now by scheduling a consultation with an attorney who can walk you through the pros and cons of various tools and ensure that the strategies you select are in line with your personal needs and wishes for the future.

What Are the Primary Purposes of a Will?

November 8, 2017

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

As the most basic of estate planning documents, most people will benefit from a will. There are a number of different goals that can be accomplished by establishing this tool and it may become the sole component of your estate plan or it may work in conjunction with other tools and strategies. First of all, your will provides for the direction of distributing your assets to beneficiaries in the family after you pass away. An attorney can be utilized to customize its provisions. 

You are also enabled to appoint a personal representative to account for your liabilities, taxes, final expenses, and assets as well as distributing your remaining assets. A will is the only way to designate guardians for your minor children. If something happens to you, a judge may still have to approve this appointment but you will have articulated your wishes. If there are any minor children, you might also establish a trust to manage assets for them in conjunction with the will. A will has to be filed in probate court in order to remain effective. This is the judicial probate as your judicial process for managing the assets to transfer them effectively if you pass away or for managing assets if you are incapacitated.

A court is responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets and payment of liabilities. Typically, an executor will need to employ an attorney. Although your will is an important component of your overall estate plan, it is not the only tool that you may wish to use. Your unique circumstances will dictate what you need to use in order to accomplish your estate planning goals and scheduling a consultation today with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is the only way to have the peace of mind that someone is working on your behalf and that you have the appropriate tools to help you if you become incapacitated or suddenly pass away.

 

You Need to Ensure That Your Estate Plan is Accessible

August 28, 2017

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Doing all of the necessary work to put your things in order and to ensure that you have carefully considered all of the different tools and strategies that can be used to accomplish your estate planning goals is only a piece of the puzzle. It is equally important to consider the many different tools and how you will be able to share these with your loved ones. If something were to happen to you unexpectedly, would your family members know where to locate the necessary information? find a safe place to store your will

For most people, the answer is no. While many people understand the value of putting together an estate plan and ensuring that it is in a safe location such as a safe deposit box, it is common for individuals to put these items in a safe place and then to forget where that safe location is. While you’re assuming that you may never do that, unfortunately, many different estate planning attorneys can share their experience of digging through old boxes and storage looking for a copy of a living will or a power of attorney for people who would have said the same thing. In a case where a client only executes one copy of a will, it should also be copied and stored in several safe locations.

Furthermore, your family members must know where to access these details if something were to happen to you unexpectedly. No one anticipates being in the position of having to put together estate planning documents, however, articulating these in a safe deposit box in a safe location within your home such as a safe that is protected from fire and in your attorney’s office gives your loved ones the necessary materials to take action as soon as possible if something were to happen to you unexpectedly.

 

 

The Dangers of an ‘I Love You’ Will

February 23, 2017

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

In the event that you want to ensure that your spouse gets access to your wealth after your death, this may be referred to as an ‘I love you’ will. In this situation your spouse will receive the assets outright and it will initially appear as if those assets will be handled according to the spouse’s current estate plan when he or she passes away.

 

However, that surviving spouse could alter their estate plan at any time. That means that any verbal agreements about what will happen with those assets could disappear immediately.

 

There are several other negative aspects of ‘I love you’ wills that should prompt you to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about other strategies. These include:

  •       These wills will still have to go through the probate process.
  •       Basic planning could mean very little or no asset protection.
  •       Basic plans put more assets into survivor’s estate, possibly leading to increased taxes.
  •       Inadvertent disinheritance can occur.
  •       Conservatorship or guardianship involvement may be necessary.

 

A lifetime beneficiary trust is a better option than outright inheritance because it avoids all of the disadvantages associated with ‘I love you’ wills.
Your New Jersey estate planning lawyer can help you with this process.

What You Should Know About Revoking Your Will

February 14, 2017

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

One of the most common ways for a will contest to emerge is to have a track record of changing or revoking your will. This is not to say that you cannot update materials you’ve put together previously, but simply that you should do so with care. Your will should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it’s still in line with your wishes, but it’s important to verify that you’re following the best practices in the industry when revoking your will so that it would be difficult for someone to argue down the road that your current will is invalid. last will NJ

One of the primary reasons why you might want to change your will is because your relationship with charities, friends, and family members are capable of changing all the time. When you initially put your will together, it may be part of a clear plan to leave behind certain assets to particular people. Over time, however, these needs may evolve. An old will that is mostly full of outdated information should be revoked. The good news you should be aware of is that it’s typically easier to revoke a will or to change one than to create one from scratch. Sitting down with your estate planning attorney can help prompt questions about why you want to revoke the old will and what your new document should contain instead.

Revoking a will makes the old one invalid. It’s a good idea to set up an appointment with your estate planning lawyer if you intend to move forward with this step. If you do not put together a valid will, people may allege after you pass away that your new will is inaccurate and therefore your old will may still remain viable for pursuing the distribution of your property. Making a big change like revoking your will is something that should be done with the guidance of an experienced estate planning lawyer in NJ who can tell you more about what you need to consider both when terminating the old will and putting together the new one. Details matter in this process, so it’s important to have a lawyer you can trust.

 

 

 

 

How You Can Avoid Your Family Being the 50% of Americans Who Do Not Have a Will

December 7, 2016

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Many people express discomfort when it comes to talking about their own mortality or putting together an estate plan. Many more individuals simply believe that they do not have enough assets to warrant an estate plan. Remember, however, that putting together these critical documents and planning strategies is about more than what will happen to your assets after you pass away.

It is also about planning for incapacity as a result of a disabling event. Unfortunately, far too many people fail to include this in their long-rangeNJ estate planning lawyer planning and therefore expose themselves and their beneficiaries to unnecessary confusion and frustration. People make plenty of excuses about why they do not engage in their estate planning. According to a Gallup survey completed last year, half of all Americans do not have a will.

Thankfully, there are some critical steps you can take in order to make this easier. First of all, it is impossible to have a detailed conversation until you have inventoried all of the property that you do have. You should also learn which of these assets fall outside of the scope of any will. These may include a 401(k) account, a life insurance policy or an IRA balance. Use a celebrity’s passing or a friend’s passing away without a will to broach this conversation while also giving some emotional distance.

It is not always easy for people to think about their own mortality and planning ahead opportunities. However, it is critical to incorporate having a will into your estate planning guidelines in order to make things easier for your beneficiaries and to assist them in avoiding the probate process. A knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you incorporate all of these goals into your short and long term planning.

                                                                          

Think Beyond the Will for Optimal Estate Planning

September 27, 2016

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

When it comes to the process of financial or estate planning, the focus will usually be on preparing you for the future. There are certainly several different aspects of this, including deciding the best time to select Social Security, putting together a will and thinking about how taxes will influence your future.

There is one exception, however, and that is estate planning. Estate planning focuses solely on you and helps to give you greater peace of mind and security about your future.

Although the elements of financial planning will primarily benefit you, the purpose of estate planning is to benefit charities and other loved ones long into the future. This can make a critical different when thinking about the differences between estate and financial planning. In order to address uncertainty, you need to think beyond the will.

Certainly, the will is the foundational element of your estate plan but it’s not the only factor your need to consider. Your estate may be more complex than you think and you may need to have a trust as well as powers of attorney, healthcare directives or guardian designations. Speaking with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney is the only way to ensure that you have covered all of your bases.

           

Key Estate Planning Lessons That You Can Learn from Prince

May 26, 2016

Filed under: Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Anytime that a celebrity passes away, we get the opportunity to benefit from his or her planning or lack of planning. Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans, much like pop star Prince, do not have a will at all. estate planning will NJ

What follows are several reasons why it’s important to put your estate in order now as opposed to later. Four reasons you need to stop putting this process off and create a will now include:

  • Allocating what happens to your things after you pass away. If you have specific assets you would like to pass on to particular individuals, your will can outline this and make it much easier for your beneficiaries by avoiding the probate process. This can be one of the biggest and easiest benefits of stipulating what you want to happen in your will.
  • Your children. Creating a will is an essential component of your estate planning if you have minor children because it allows you to name a guardian for these individuals.
  • Charitable help. If you wish to give back to charities after you pass away, your will can direct part of the money to those groups. You may also need to use more complex estate planning tools like a trust in order to get the maximum benefit out of this process.
  • It is easy to create a will. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can create a will on your own as using generic forms could run counter to existing state or federal laws and fail to capture the complex nature of estate planning.

Your will can help to articulate your plans for the future and give you peace of mind.

Thankfully, putting together a will is relatively easily accomplished when you set up a meeting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. Do not hesitate to get help on your estate planning matters as soon as possible.

 

 

Video: What is the Difference Between Revocable & Irrevocable Trusts?

September 25, 2015

Filed under: Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Revocable Living Trusts,Trusts,Wills — Neel Shah @ 11:52 pm

What is the Difference Between Revocable & Irrevocable Trusts? Hear Attorney Neel Shah Explain in this quick video.

For your Free consultation with Attorney Neel Shah, click here

Should I Do a Will or a Living Trust? Part Two

March 31, 2015

Filed under: Trusts,Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that wills and living trusts each accomplish three goals, but they are not one and the same. Neither document is likely to be a comprehensive solution for all your needs, so you’ll need to consider what time period you are planning for. canstockphoto10979354

If you are looking simply to plan for what happens after you pass away, both a will or a living trust can be a good option. If incapacity, however, is your primary concern, a living trust is far and away the more superior tool. Many people focus on what happens after they pass away when it comes to estate planning, but disability and incapacity are increasingly important concerns regardless of your current health.

Assets inside a living trust will already be under the control of a trustee you named to manage things in the event of your incapacity, this allows for a smooth and quick transition. Rather than having to wait out months in a legal disability proceeding, you’ll have a trustee who is empowered to act right away. There are a few other reasons that a living trust wins out over the will, such as if you have a vacation home or real estate located in another state. This is because you won’t have to worry about the estate being probated separately in each state after you pass away, so long as the property is inside the trust.

As you can see here, neither one of these tool is an all-encompassing solution, so you should talk about your needs with an experienced estate planning attorney. We can help at info@lawesq.net

Robin Williams’ Trusts Call for Conversation About Trust Privacy

August 25, 2014

Filed under: Estate Administration,Probate,Trustees,Trusts,Wills — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 6:26 pm

The loss of Robin Williams last week certainly sent ripples across the country, but it also highlights an important topic for your estate plans: privacy. Within a matter of hours after news outlets started reporting his death, details about the trusts documents he had established for his three children started emerging as well. The prime sources for these details? Gossip websites and tabloid. One site even published a 35-page document detailing Williams’ irrevocable trusts established for his children.

Shortly after these documents, one of which dated back to 1989, hit the media, Williams’ publicist responded that neither of them were accurate with regards to the former actor’s current estate plan. What’s most disturbing, however, is that trusts are most often used instead of wills because of the veil of privacy they offer.

So how did Williams’ documents, albeit outdated, end up in the public eye? The trustee of both the trusts had requested a co-trustee successor be appointed back in 2008, when the originally designated individual passed away. All of the public sharing of the trust document could easily have been avoided simply using trust protectors, like an accountant, trusted friend, or attorney who retains the power to appoint or remove trustees. To learn more about ensuring that your trusts are protected privately, contact our offices at info@lawesq.net or via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Robin Williams’ Trusts Call for Conversation About Trust Privacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: emilystepp.com

For The Ladies: Special Estate Planning Considerations for Women

July 17, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:33 pm

For the most part, financial planning and estate planning tools are very similar for men and for women, but there are several facts that result in special planning considerations for women as well. The root of these considerations is that in later years, women may face their own set of challenges.

For The Ladies Special Estate Planning Considerations for Women
(Photo Credit: businesshangouts.net)

To start with, women tend to live longer than men do. A woman may overlook the fact that odds are in her favor for outliving her spouse. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of women over the age of 65 are widowed. That longevity may also lead to higher medical bills. When your financial future is built on a husband’s pension or Social Security benefits, the woman can face major challenges as a widow.

Women are also much more likely to provide care to children and elderly parents. Many women tend to take on this role for older parents, which can be emotionally challenging and a financial adjustments.

Women looking at estate planning should seriously consider where their income will come from in the future and what, if any, benefits they will be eligible for. If women are looking at caring for their own elderly parents, it’s also worth a look into the parent’s planning to see whether they have made plans for long-term care or factored in the financial aspects already.

A little advance work can go a long way in helping women live long and comfortable lives. To learn more about estate planning, email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Common Reasons A Will Might Not Hold Up In Court

July 14, 2014

Filed under: Last Will & Testament,Living Will,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 3:38 pm

Especially if you have taken it upon yourself to write your will, it’s important to know that you have opened your heirs up to the risk of having your will contested in court later on. Here are three of the most common mistakes that result in a contested will.

Common Reasons A Will Might Not Hold Up In Court
(Photo Credit: 8gr.org)

Disinheriting Family Members Sans Explicit Instructions

The law tends to treat the distribution of assets relatively fairly when there are questions about intention or mistakes in the handling of the will. So, if you’re stipulating that you want to leave an individual out altogether, you need to make sure those instructions are crystal clear. You want to have this written by an attorney to reduce that chances that you have given such an individual room to argue in court.

Using Biased Witnesses During Your Will Signing

In many circumstances, you need to sign your will in front of witnesses in order for it to be valid. These witnesses may later be called I court to state that they were present and to discuss whether the person signing the will (you) had the mental capacity to sign such a document without any undue influence or pressure from other parties.

Potentially Lacking Mental Capacity to Sign the Will

One of the reasons that heirs (or those excluded) will contest a will is under the ground that you did not have the mental capacity to understand what you were doing. You must understand what property you own, your overall plan for passing on property, and who you closest family members are. Furthermore, a Living Trust, which preserves privacy, may be an option for those with a stronger likelihood of a contest in their future.

To learn more about wills and estate planning documents, contact our professionals at 732-521-9455 or info@lawesq.net.

What Can An Estate Planning Accomplish That I Can’t?

June 23, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Trusts,Wills — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 4:03 pm

In this world driven by do-it-yourself options, it might seem like you can handle just about anything. There are several things, though, that you definitely want to hand off to a qualified estate planner rather than attempting on your own.

What Can An Estate Planning Accomplish That I Can’t?
(Photo Credit: design55online.co.uk)

To start with, even the most basic of estate planning documents, a will, probably needs customization. If you’re using some form of template, trying to invalidate it could turn out badly if you don’t do it appropriately. This could mean that your wishes are totally ignored due to an overlooked accident. Each state has specific provisions and wording, so make sure you’ve gotten yours reviewed by someone in the know.

If avoiding probate is one of the goals you have set out for your estate, you really should consider a conversation with an estate planner. The truth is that there are numerous ways to avoid probate and to minimize the blow of estate taxes, but those can be complex and require the eyes of a trained professional. Don’t count on yourself for those strategies.

One of the biggest reasons to trust your planner is because laws in the realm of estate planning have the potential to change often. You most likely don’t want to read through laws and regulations to understand your opportunities and responsibilities, but attorneys are up to speed on all the latest changes. What you can do on your own is to generate a list of what you’d like to accomplish with your plans and draw up questions you have about the process. Being proactive goes a long way towards proper estate planning. To set up a meeting, email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Do You Have a Digital Fortune?

May 8, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:37 am

The estate planning landscape is changing, and it’s because our approach to determining assets is changing, too. According to a survey by McAfee, Americans believe they own an average of about $54,000 in digital assets. Curious about a digital asset? What about your big ITunes collection? Downloaded resources and books on your Kindle? What about Paypal? Bitcoins? Or even more sentimental accounts, like a genealogy archive that’s helped you to identify relatives?

Do You Have a Digital Fortune
(Photo Credit: mariopartylegacy.com)

Getting access to these materials can be difficult after a family member passes away. Your email account materials might be deleted before family members can even access the material and in the meantime, your accounts could be exposed to online theft risk.

This is where a Digital Estate Plan steps in. It will help your will executor carry out your wishes in the distribution of your assets. This can be a complex process, since many of the sites mentioned about base their service agreements on federal laws. Nevertheless, it’s an important exercise to gather up an inventory of material you might like your family to be able to access if something happens to you. At the least, your family will be aware of the information’s existence. Login information and passwords should also be included with this material.

Make sure you’re up to date with estate planning laws and trends by working with an experienced attorney. Reach out to us to get started at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Showdown: Wills vs Trusts

April 15, 2014

Filed under: Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:13 pm

Depending on who you talk to, your estate planning specialist might recommend wills over trusts or trusts over wills. Let’s walk through some of the differences between these two planning tools to see if one might be a better fit for your needs.

Showdown Wills vs Trusts
(Photo Credit: blogs.dallasobserver.com)

If you are planning to use a will as your primary tool, bear in mind that your assets must first go through the probate process in order to be eventually received by your beneficiaries. Some states have lengthy and cumbersome probate processes, meaning that it could take your beneficiaries a while to actually receive the assets. Probate is also very public, meaning that details about your financial situation will be shared in a less-private forum. If you’re concerned about this, a trust might be a better option.

In comparison, trusts tend to pass by the court system for the majority of the administrative process. Since these are privacy documents, there’s less public scrutiny into your finances or your plans, and some clients prefer this confidential approach. Unlike wills, which become active on your death, a trust can be rendered effective immediately. Additionally, trusts can also be used for incapacity planning, adding another layer to their usefulness.

Both wills and trusts can do tax planning for credit shelter trusts. The bottom line is that it depends on your needs. If you are not concerned about the red tape of the probate process, there are still advantages (especially regarding privacy) for the establishment of a trust. We work with clients to create a customized plan for you since we recognize that each client is unique. To talk more about the kinds of trusts we can help you establish or to begin generation of your will, contact us today at 732-521-9455 or through e-mail at info@lawesq.net

Risky Do-It-Yourself: Wills

April 9, 2014

Filed under: Wills — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 2:39 pm

Software or online programs to help you plan your estate are popping up everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they are the best choice for your needs. Many of these programs lead you to believe that generating your will is easier than it truly is. Heirs might find out too late that your self-created will doesn’t really match up with your state laws or even your own intent.

rightscale.com
  (Photo Credit: rightscale.com)

When it comes to estate planning, intent is everything. Too often, the wishes of an individual don’t come across clearly in self-generated wills. Many modern court cases have focused on the determination of the testator’s intent, but judges are hesitant to cross certain lines to clear up confusion. As a result, your heirs may discover that your wishes aren’t carried out as you planned at all. Simply put, doing your will on your own can have big consequences.

Consider the Estate of George Zeevering. Last fall, a Pennsylvania appellate court was evaluating an unclear DIY will. Since the testator had not worked with a lawyer to generate the document, which was incomplete, it was difficult to determine the true intentions of Mr. Zeevering. In one aspect of the case, property had already been titled in the names of a son and a decedent as joint tenants. Mr. Zeevering stated that “the failure of this will to provide any distribution” to his daughters was done on purpose.

The case got sticky when the residuary and residuary estate totaled over $200,000 after debt payments were made. There was no provision within the DIY will for what should happen to those assets. In the end, the court determined that when a will doesn’t provide for the disposal of an entire estate and fails to include a residuary clause, the residuary estate must be divided under intestacy laws.

This case is but one example of where estate planning on your own can go wrong. Although it may not have been Mr. Zeevering’s intention to distribute the remainder of his estate under intestacy laws, that’s what happened. Despite his wishes, the law overrides an incomplete or improper will. While online and computer programs argue that wills and estate planning documents are easily done on your own, that minimizes the true complexity of document generation and estate laws.

Estate planning can be very complicated for an individual but it’s easily done under the guidance of an estate planning attorney. An added benefit of using a legal professional “in the know” is that he or she is clued into state and federal laws about estate planning, which always have the potential to change. An estate planning attorney is an excellent resource for all your questions as well as giving you the peace of mind that your estate will be carried out in the manner you wish. Cutting corners with a do it yourself tool is your choice, but do so at your own risk. If you want the assurance of totality and legality, contact an estate planning professional today.

How To Handle Leaving Unequal Amounts To Your Children

March 20, 2014

Filed under: Beneficiaries,Distribution of Assets,Estate Administration,Estate Planning,Inheritance,Wills — Neel Shah @ 10:00 am

Many parents divide their assets equally among their children. That’s the easy way.

Family discussion

(Photo credit: Muffet)

But what if you want to give more to one child than to another? Is that fair? Is it a good idea?

Sometimes it may be the best plan. For example, maybe one of your children earns much more than the others. Does this child really need to share equally in your estate?

Maybe one of your children has several children of his own, while the others are childless or have only one child. That may be a good case for giving the child with the most children a larger share.

Another reason might be that one of your children spent a lot of time and energy caring for you in your old age. Shouldn’t that child get rewarded?

And what if one of your children went down the wrong path? Maybe he became addicted to drugs or alcohol. Should this behavior be reinforced?

These are difficult decisions posed in an article in the Wall Street Journal. And they can lead to hurt feelings, lawsuits and other problems.

If you end up giving different children differing amounts in your will or estate plan, your decision may end up being challenged in court by the child or children who got less. It could turn into a mess.

To make sure your wishes are carried out, make sure to prove that you are of “sound mind” when you drew up your plan. You might want to get a letter from your doctor or psychologist saying so.

At the same time, make sure to talk to each of your children and explain what you are doing and why. This could result in fewer bad feelings.

Perhaps you can establish a pattern by helping those who need the most help while you are alive, as well as helping those who help you by giving them financial support during that time.

You can also include clauses mandating that disputes be settled through mediation or arbitration, not litigation. You can even include a “no contest” clause that says if any of the beneficiaries tries to contest the will, that child’s share is forfeited.

These are tough decisions that your estate planning attorney can help you make when drafting your will or estate plan.

 

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3 Steps for Baby Boomers Without a Plan

January 30, 2014

Filed under: Advanced Directives,Baby Boomer Generation,Living Will,Power of Attorney,Trusts,Wills — Neel Shah @ 7:31 pm

While every mentally competent individual over the age of 18 should have an estate plan in place, it is especially important that Baby Boomers without a plan begin to put something together. A recent article offers several estate-planning strategies for baby boomers to begin planning:

Last Will And Testament

(Photo credit: Ken_Mayer)

    1. Create a Will and Trust: No matter what type of estate planning scheme a person employs, he or she should incorporate a will into that scheme. Within a will, a person can designate a guardian for his or her minor children, as well as the distribution of personal items such as heirlooms and valuable items.

    2. Designate a Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a vital document for any estate plan, because it allows you to designate a person to handle your financial and legal affairs should you be involved in an accident.

    3. Create a Health-Care Power of Attorney and Living Will: Just as a power of attorney allows an individual to designate the person who will handle his or her financial and legal affairs in the event of an accident or emergency, a health care power of attorney allows an individual to designate the person who will make medical decisions on his or her behalf.

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Review Your Financial and Estate Planning Goals for 2014

January 23, 2014

Filed under: Beneficiaries,Estate Planning,Finances,Gifting,Taxes,Trusts,Wills — Neel Shah @ 7:08 pm

A recent article quoted financial planner Michael Joyce as saying, “There’s nothing magic about reviewing goals […], but it is a good time to refocus people on their financial goals.” Joyce’s statement could not be moretrue. It is good practice to periodically review financial and estate planning goals, and the end of the year or the beginning of a new year is a great time to check this off of the to do list.

English: Picture I made for my goals article

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Individuals should begin their review by checking the beneficiary designations on their retirement accounts, life insurance policies, 401(k) plans, and any other account with a beneficiary designation. It is important to not only ensure that a beneficiary has been named, but also that the named beneficiary is still appropriate.

Additionally, review the provisions in your will and trust documents. Consider whether any provisions need to be changed, added, or omitted. This is especially important if you have experienced a marriage, divorce, or the birth or death of a loved one since you first signed your will.

Individuals should also consider any tax law changes that will impact their assets. Tax laws are in constant flux, so a periodic review of applicable laws is the best way to plan to reduce anticipated taxes. This review should also include a review of gift tax limits, which may encourage an individual to increase year-end gift-giving in order to achieve a greater tax benefit.

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