Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Some trusts are irrevocable as soon as they are created, which means that, in general, the trustmaker (the person who created and funded the trust) cannot terminate or modify it and take back the money or property that it holds. You may wonder why anyone would want an irrevocable trust, but irrevocable trusts can provide some very important benefits, particularly asset protection, tax minimization, and maintaining eligibility for government benefits. In contrast, trustmakers may amend or revoke a revocable living trust at any time prior to their death, but at their death the trust becomes irrevocable.
Although irrevocable trusts generally cannot be changed, many states’ laws allow interested parties to modify a trust in certain circumstances using a binding nonjudicial settlement agreement—assuming there is no language in the trust document prohibiting their use or providing another way for the trustee and beneficiaries to consent to modifications.
Estate Planning Before You Travel: Why It’s Critically Important
You might think that because you are married, you don’t need an estate plan. Or you might even think your Will is enough and would just handle everything. But that’s generally not the case.
Even if you are married, you still need medical powers of attorney, making it clear that you want your spouse making medical decisions for you or even potentially adding in additional decision-makers. You still want a Living Will to give clarity on how you want medical decisions made for you.
Why Deathbed Planning Might Give You Additional Grief
None of us likes to think about our own death or enjoys planning for that occasion. However, if you do not create an estate plan or fail to update it regularly, you are likely setting your loved ones up for even more stress and grief after you pass away. It may add to your own stress and impede your peace of mind during your lifetime because of the uncertainty that your wishes and goals will be fulfilled.
If you have not updated your estate plan to include loved ones who are not provided for in your existing plan, you may be tempted to make deathbed gifts. It may bring you pleasure to make significant gifts to loved ones because of the joy it may bring to them. However, in addition to the obvious problem that none of us knows the exact time we will die and may not be able to make the deathbed gifts we intend, there are some other drawbacks to deathbed planning that you may not have thought about.
Why Everyone Needs to Keep Their Estate Plan Updated
The primary reason to update an estate plan is to ensure that an individual’s wishes are respected upon death. For example, suppose an individual has recently acquired valuable property or has had changes in family structure (such as marriage or children). In that case, updating the documents that outline how assets should be distributed is important. If the documents are not updated, this could lead to disputes between family members and legal complications when probate occurs. Additionally, if laws change at the state or federal level, those changes need to be incorporated into the existing estate plan to remain valid and effective.
Another reason for updating an estate plan is for future tax planning purposes. Without proper planning and asset allocation, taxes can significantly reduce the amount that beneficiaries receive after one’s death. Additionally, some states have transfer taxes on certain assets (such as real estate), which must be factored into one’s estate planning decisions. In addition, changes in Federal tax law may affect whether other taxes, such as capital gains tax, applies at the time of death or while transferring assets during life – thus providing additional incentive for individuals to review their plans regularly with their advisors and make necessary updates when necessary.
Disability Panels to Take Back Control
When you create an estate plan, it is an admission of your mortality. But even if you accept that you are not going to live forever, you may be slower to face the possibility that you could become incapacitated before you die.
Although it can be an uncomfortable topic, incapacity is an essential but often overlooked part of drafting revocable living trusts. Placing your money and property in a living trust can accomplish many estate planning objectives, including planning for incapacity. Should you suffer a disability, your mental competency could come into question. At that point, it will need to be determined if a backup trustee should take over the management of your living trust.
Obtaining A Power Of Attorney For Elderly Parents
Making important decisions for aging parents can be a challenging task, but power of attorney (POA) can provide peace of mind and clarity in times of need. POA enables individuals to make crucial decisions on behalf of their parents, such as managing their finances or making medical decisions when they are unable to do so themselves due to age or illness.
While it may be difficult to approach this topic with your parents, having these discussions early on can help ensure that you follow their wishes if their health changes over time. Starting the conversation with empathy and understanding can make all the difference.
Have You Chosen the Right Trustee?
When creating an estate plan, there are several types of trustees to consider. An initial trustee is the decision maker that immediately starts managing the trust’s accounts and property. You may choose to be the initial trustee if you create a revocable living trust. However, for some types of irrevocable trusts, you will need to select someone else to be the initial trustee.
The successor trustee is the next in line to manage the trust. This person may need to act because the initial trustee becomes incapacitated, dies, or steps down from their role.
Your Rights As The Parent Of A Young Adult – What You Need To Know When A Medical Crisis Hits
As a parent, you are quite accustomed to managing your children’s legal and medical affairs as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, now adults in the eyes of the law, and need urgent medical attention far from home?
The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult and has the legal rights of an adult. This means that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents, accessing medical information and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.
Have You Thought Through Your Retirement Plans?
Beginning your retirement is a great milestone that is worth celebrating. You have put in many years of hard work, and you are now able to focus your energy on the next phase of your life. However, before you begin this next chapter, you need to make sure that you have fully thought through this exciting change in your life.
Having a properly executed and legally binding estate plan is a great first step toward ensuring that you and your loved ones are cared for. However, estate planning is not a one-and-done event. It is important that you review your plan every year or so, especially after major life events such as the beginning of your retirement. When considering your existing plan, ask yourself the following key questions: