What some people are referring to as an ethical will isn't a legal document or something that governs how your assets are distributed to heirs via your estate. Instead, it's a document you leave behind that helps support your legacy by ensuring your loved ones, heirs and friends fully understand your values and who you actually were. While these are things it's best to communicate during life, an ethical will letter can be your last chance at cementing the communication.
Consulting a bankruptcy attorney is often seen as the last resort for those going through a financial crisis, and you might think that you are capable of pulling your family up by the bootstraps and taking care of the issues yourself. While bankruptcy is, in fact, something you should consider only if you can't make payment on your debts yourself, it also isn't something you should avoid at all costs. Waiting the problem out could only make it worse, and if you don't take action now to get things in order, you could leave your heirs and beneficiaries with nothing but debt. Here are three times when you might want to seek out legal debt relief assistance soon.
In past blog posts, we've covered a number of things you don't want to forget about as you plan for or administrate an estate. As a beneficiary, there are several things you might forget to do or overlook, especially if you're dealing with loss or scrambling to get back to a new normal following the death of a loved one. Here are three simple tasks that can make a big difference for financial and legal matters during this time.
We've covered before that many people never have to worry about the federal estate tax since the threshold is over $5 million. It doesn't take that much these days to reach the threshold, though, especially if you own some property, a farm or a business. If you're worried you might hit the threshold and face up to 40 percent federal estate taxes, then consider a life-time habit of cash giving.
Considering what your heirs will actually want is crucial when making an estate plan. Remember that what they desire could be far different from what you assume they'll want or what you think is most important. That's why it's so critical to keep the lines of communication open at all times. In some cases, small things can cause lasting arguments and rifts between your heirs.
For many people, probate is something to be avoided at all costs, but the fact of the matter is that you can't always avoid probate court. While smart and organized estate planning can help reduce the time your heirs spend on probate matters, some estate issues have to go through the legal process. Spending too much time and money trying to avoid probate can also defeat the purpose of getting as many assets as possible to your heirs.
An heir is the person who is legally situated to receive some or all of your assets upon your death. Who is and isn't your heir depends in part on the laws of the state you live or die in, because each state does define heirs in a slightly different way. You can also identify your own heirs via estate planning documents such as wills and trusts.
When you consider being someone's heir, you might think immediately of the assets that will eventually come your way. But heirship isn't all gold and silver; it can also come with responsibilities to the legacy that was left behind. This is true whether you are the heir to an artist, a business owner or someone with a lot of various interests or philanthropic campaigns. As an heir, you might find yourself as part of legal battles both during probate and in the future.
We often lump the words heirs and beneficiaries together for purposes of blog posts, but in some context they are very different things. It's important to understand the difference between these two words, especially when you are dealing with something such as an investment or retirement account.
If you are part of a couple with children, then you probably worry at least daily about your kids in some way or another. A common worry for many parents is what will happen to minor children or dependents if something happens to either parent. Estate planning is one way that you can alleviate the stress of some of those worries.