Is now the time to remodel your old trust?

There are several reasons why you should update your existing trust or perhaps your entire estate plan. While estate planning documents do not necessarily have a shelf life, they may not fulfill your goals when your circumstances change. Of course, having estate planning documents that are up-to-date is critical, but how do you know when you should make changes?

It is important to note that just because you have a trust in place does not mean you are bound to keep it as is; this is even true if the trust was inherited from someone else. Indeed, there is more than one way to make necessary changes: sometimes you can establish a new trust or simply revise the terms of an existing trust. Finally, making changes to an existing trust – and other estate planning documents – can help you save money and costs, and it may allow you to make better investments decisions. Read More

Wills, Trusts & Dying Intestate: How They Differ

Most people understand that having some sort of an Estate Plan is a good thing. However, many of us don’t take the steps to have an estate plan prepared because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts – and dying without either.

Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a will, and with a trust. For this example, we’re assuming you have children, but no spouse:

1. Intestate. If you should die intestate, your estate will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, what you owed, and who got what. Your mortgage company, car loan company, and credit card companies will all seek payment on balances you owed at the time of your death.  Read More

The Silent Threat to Your Estate Plan

It is common knowledge that everyone needs to have an estate plan in place. Commonly, the focus is on assets, taxes, and any changes to legislation that may affect the security of your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. What many often forget, however, is that changes in family dynamics and circumstances can threaten even the most well thought out estate plan. This silent threat can easily keep your estate plan from actually working when it is truly needed. Below are several situations where updating an existing estate plan or creating a plan for the first time is necessary to protect your loved ones. Read More

Giving Thanks With Your Estate Plan

Estate planning covers more than just financial matters. Indeed, many use their estate plan to pass along their values as well as their wealth. One way to do this is to give thanks with your estate plan, by designating charitable giving or specific gifts that will help ensure your legacy. It is important, however, to balance your income and the needs of your beneficiaries with the available tax incentives.

While the general purpose of estate planning is to ensure you and your family are taken care of when most needed, you do not need to contain your estate planning to financial issues. Indeed, many individuals use estate planning to pass along family history and traditions through their giving. An estate plan may specify how a beneficiary can use their inheritance such as for studying abroad, embarking on a particular trip, or other values that are important to the giver. In addition, you can choose to give to a qualified charitable organization in your will so that the gift is distributed upon your death or incapacity. Giving to charity during your life or after you have gone can help significantly reduce federal estate and gift taxes and allows you to support charitable causes that are meaningful to you. Read More

Your Fall “Legal Affairs” Checklist

There are several reasons to review and update your legal matters, including your estate plan. Understanding how your wishes are affected by applicable law will help make you make a more informed decision and protect you and your loved ones. Below is a checklist to ensure your planning meets your needs and is up-to-date: Read More