Pour-Over Will: Not Your Average Will
If your estate plan is based around a living trust, you are probably familiar with the trust’s benefits over a standard will. Avoiding probate, reducing attorney’s fees, and providing privacy for you and your loved ones are the primary benefits of using a living trust.
Ideally, you transfer all your accounts and property into the living trust. At the same time, you are still alive by changing ownership from you as an individual to you as the trustee of the living trust or naming the living trust as the beneficiary of items such as life insurance or a retirement account. The trust, in effect, is a legal entity that is separate from your estate (the money and property you own). Since you create the trust while you are alive and will most likely name yourself as the beneficiary, you will continue to use and enjoy the accounts and property.
5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk – Part 2
State laws are also particular about who can serve in specific roles like executor, trustee, or financial power of attorney. In some states, for instance, the executor of your will must either be a family member or an in-law and if not, the person must live in your state. If your chosen executor doesn’t meet those requirements, they cannot serve.
Furthermore, some states require the person you name as your executor to get a bond, like an insurance policy, before they can serve. Such bonds can be challenging to get for someone who has a less-than-stellar credit score. If your executor cannot get a bond, it would be up to the court to appoint your executor, which could end up being someone you would never want managing your assets or a third-party professional who could drain your estate with costly fees.
Common Trusts: Parenting beyond the Grave
You probably do not keep a ledger of how much each child costs you. You spend as much money as each child requires. Inevitably, there are spending imbalances. Although not perfectly equal in terms of dollar amounts, such an approach can be considered fair because you allocate funds based on need instead of an arbitrary measure such as age.
Fairness involves accounting for the differences among your children. You want to be fair to them in life – and in death. When setting up an estate plan, you are acknowledging the unpleasant possibility – no matter how remote – that you may not be around to care for your minor children while they are growing up.
5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk – Part 1
Creating your estate plan using online document services can give you a false sense of security – you think you’ve got estate planning covered when you most likely do not. DIY plans may even lead you to believe that you no longer need to worry about estate planning, causing you to put it off creating a proper plan off until it’s too late.
In this way, relying on DIY estate planning documents is one of the most dangerous choices you can make. In the end, such generic forms could end up costing your family even more money and heartache than if you’d never gotten around to doing any planning at all.
QTIP Trust – Will My Spouse Get What They Need?
A qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust is an estate planning tool that married couples can use to minimize uncertainty about the future and maximize certain tax advantages. Since no one can predict how much they will own at the time of their death, which spouse will die first, whether the surviving spouse will remarry, or what the estate tax rate will be when they die, a QTIP trust can help deal with and minimize these uncertainties without the need for a crystal ball.
The most common form of a QTIP trust is a testamentary QTIP, created when the first spouse dies. This QTIP is a marital trust established as part of a married couple’s estate plan to hold money and property for the surviving spouse’s benefit. This trust may be the only one created at the first spouse’s death, or it may be part of a multiple trust arrangement where, after the first spouse’s death, the family trust (or credit shelter trust) receives an amount equal to the federal estate tax exemption and the marital trust gets the rest.
Preventing Family Conflict And Disputes Over Your Estate Plan
Family dynamics are highly complicated and prone to conflict even during the best of times. But when tragedy strikes a household member, even minor tensions and disagreements can explode into bitter conflict. And when access to money (or even quite often, sentimental items of furniture or jewelry) is on the line, the potential for discord is exponentially increased. Ultimately, there is no higher cost to families than the cost of lost relationships after the death or incapacity of a loved one.
By becoming aware of some of the leading causes of conflict over your estate plan, you’re in a better position to prevent those situations through effective planning. Though it’s impossible to predict how your loved ones will react to your estate plan, the following issues are among the most common catalysts for conflict.
Using Real Estate Deeds in Estate Planning
An important question arises regarding the type of deed that should be used for transferring real property into the trust’s name. Several types of deeds can be used, one of which is a general warranty deed. The other types of deeds commonly used in the United States for transferring property are quitclaim deeds and special warranty deeds. Although a complete discussion of the differences among the types of deeds is not possible in an article of this length, the following information briefly explains each type of deed and why someone might want to use it when transferring ownership of real property.
When someone wants to transfer whatever property rights they have in a parcel of property, they can use a quitclaim deed. When individual drafts and sign a quitclaim deed, they are, in effect, making a statement that whatever they own regarding the property described in the deed is now transferred to the transferee.
Life Insurance and Estate Planning: Protecting Your Beneficiaries’ Interests
A common misconception people have about life insurance is that they only need to designate their spouse, child, or loved one as the policy’s beneficiary to ensure that the life insurance benefits will be available to the beneficiary when they die. Life insurance is a significant financial and estate planning tool. Still, there is no guarantee that your beneficiary will receive or keep the benefit from your insurance without certain protections in place.
Despite the estate tax exemption currently being at a historic high, the exemption amount will likely change under the current administration or sunset in 2026 at the latest. Therefore, if you have purchased life insurance, consider taking the extra step to ensure that your loved ones’ financial futures are secure.