Posts Categorized: Estate Planning

Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts: What You Should Know

At Cheever Law, APC, we don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death for yourself and the people you love, starting with a valuable and educational Family Wealth Planning Session. The Life & Legacy Planning Session will allow you to get more financially organized and make the best choices for the people you love. If you have already completed your estate plan, we will review that plan at your Life & Legacy Planning Session (aka Family Wealth Planning Session) to ensure that it will work the way you intend and address any holes or gaps that may be present if circumstances have changed since you executed your plan.

To learn more about our one-of-a-kind systems and services, contact us or schedule a 15-minute introductory call today.

A SLAT is a type of irrevocable trust created by one spouse (trustmaker spouse) for the benefit of the other spouse (beneficiary spouse) that is used to transfer money and property out of the trustmaker spouse’s estate. This strategy allows married couples to take advantage of their lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion amounts by having the trustmaker spouse make sizable, permanent gifts to the SLAT that decreases the value of their estate while maintaining some limited access to the money and property that is gifted for the beneficiary spouse’s benefit.   READ MORE

4 Year-End Tax-Saving Strategies For 2022

In 2022, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA and up to $20,500 to a 401(k) if you’re under 50, and up to $7,000 to an IRA and $27,000 to a 401(k) for those 50 and older. If you don’t have the cash available to fund the maximum amount, try to contribute at least any amount that will be matched by your employer since that’s basically free money, and you lose it if you don’t use it.

That said, the ability to deduct your traditional IRA contributions from your taxes comes with certain limitations. These limitations are based on factors such as whether or not you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your adjusted gross income (AGI), so make sure you know how your family is affected by these limits when taking deductions. On the other hand, Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible since they are made after taxes are taken out, but withdrawals from a Roth in retirement are tax-free. READ MORE

An Introduction to Dynasty Trusts

A dynasty trust starts the same way as any other trust. The trust’s creator (i.e., the grantor) transfers money and property into the trust, either during their lifetime or at the time of their death, in which case the trust is a testamentary dynasty trust. Regardless, as an irrevocable trust, once the dynasty trust is funded, it is set in stone. It cannot be revoked, and the rules the grantor sets for the trust can only be altered under certain state statutes governing trust modifications.

One role that the grantor must seriously consider is who will act as the trustee. It is common for the grantor of a dynasty trust to name an independent trustee, such as a bank or trust company, to serve in this role because they can administer the trust for as long as it lasts. READ MORE

How Will A Recession Affect Your Family?

During every economic shift, whether it’s the Great Depression, the last Great Recession, or even during the pandemic, some people get rich while others lose everything. Whether your family got rich, lost it all, or just hung on by their toes, you can learn from what happened and create the exact future reality you want for yourself and the people you love.

But to do that, you need to get into action now. In service to that, here are 4 steps you can take right away to change your family’s future and ensure you have the stability you need to sail through the economic shifts in the best way possible. READ MORE

7 Issues To Consider When Purchasing Disability Insurance

Disability insurance pays benefits when you are unable to work because you are sick or injured. Most policies pay a benefit that replaces a percentage of your income. But disability insurance is not the same as health insurance – it will not cover your medical bills. 

Instead, disability benefits replace a percentage of the income you lose due to your inability to work, so you can cover your basic financial needs, such as paying bills, covering daily living expenses, and providing for your family until you can return to work. To begin your search for disability insurance, first, you need to get clear about your minimum financial needs, or what we call your “minimum to thrive” number, should you become unable to work. READ MORE

The Pros and Cons of Probate

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often carries a negative connotation. Indeed, for many people – especially those with valuable accounts and property financial planners recommend trying to keep accounts and property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the deceased’s accounts and property as well as their family, and in some cases, it may even work to an advantage. Let us look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate.

For some situations, especially those in which the deceased person left no will, the system works to make sure all accounts and property are distributed according to state law. Here are some potential advantages of having the probate court involved in wrapping up a deceased person’s affairs: READ MORE

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death – Part 3

In part one and two of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook,  Google, Instagram, Twitter, and Apple offer to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part three, we’ll conclude this series by covering the most effective methods for including digital assets in your estate plan.

If you’re like most people, you likely own numerous digital assets, some of which may have significant monetary value and others that have purely sentimental value. You may even have some digital assets that you’d prefer your family not access at all when you pass away. READ MORE

Three Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

While it is an honor to be named as a trusted decision maker, also known as an executor or personal representative, in a person’s will, it can often be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the accounts and property to which they are entitled. If you are an executor who is feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips to lighten the load.

he caveat to being an executor is that once you accept the responsibility, you also accept the liability if something goes wrong. To protect yourself and make sure you are crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “i’s,” hire an experienced estate planning attorney now. Having a legal professional in your corner not only helps you avoid pitfalls and blind spots, but it will also gives you greater peace of mind during the process. READ MORE

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death Part – 2

Last week, in part one of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook and Google have in place to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part two, we’ll continue our discussion, covering how Instagram, Twitter, and Apple’s collection of online platforms handle your accounts once you log off for the final time.

Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the photo and video-sharing social media platform’s processes for handling your account after your death are similar – but not entirely the same – as Facebook’s. As a reminder, Facebook allows you to name a legacy contact to handle your death, and Instagram gives you two options for managing your account after death: You can either have your account memorialized or you can have it deleted. READ MORE

Why a Trust Is the Best Option to Avoid Probate

Establishing a trust can seem a bit complicated, and the process can cost a bit more initially than preparing a will. However, if you are willing to invest a little more upfront, a trust can be your best option for avoiding probate later. 

The key to effective planning that minimizes the likelihood of a drawn-out, contentious, expensive process is to work with highly qualified, trusted people. Find a lawyer who genuinely cares about you and your loved ones and who knows how to forge the right strategy for all of you. Give us a call today to learn more about the next steps for achieving the peace of mind you deserve. READ MORE

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death – Part 1

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose. 

Following your death, unless you’ve planned, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still, others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts. READ MORE

Three Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons

One would assume that celebrities with extreme wealth would take steps to protect their estates. But think again: some of the world’s richest and most famous people enter the pearly gates with no estate plan, while others have made estate planning mistakes that tied up their fortunes and heirs in court for years. Let us look at three high-profile celebrity probate disasters and discover what lessons we can learn from them.

These celebrity probate disasters serve as stark reminders that no one’s wealth is exempt from the legal trouble that can occur without proper estate planning. As always, we are here to help you protect your loved ones and legacy. Give us a call today to discuss protecting your hard-earned money and property and your loved ones. READ MORE

Trusts & Taxes: What You Need To Know

People often come to us curious – or confused – about the role trusts play in saving on taxes. Given how frequently this issue comes up, here we’re going to explain the tax implications associated with different types of trusts to clarify this issue. Of course, if you need further clarification about trusts, taxes, or any other issue related to estate planning, meet with us for additional guidance.

A living trust uses your Social Security Number as its tax identifier, and this type of trust is not a separate entity from you for tax purposes. However, a living trust is a separate entity from you to avoid the court process called probate, and this is where the confusion regarding taxes often comes from. But before we explain the tax implications of a living trust, let’s first describe how a living trust works.  READ MORE

Three Reasons to Avoid Probate

When you pass away, your family may need to sign certain documents as part of a probate process in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other assets) in your name only and you have not completed a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation.

Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply let you inform the probate court of your wishes – your loved ones still have to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal. READ MORE

2022 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date?

This year, Estate Planning Awareness Week runs from October 17th to 23rd, and one of our primary goals is to educate you on the vital importance of not only preparing an estate plan, but also keeping your plan up-to-date. While you almost surely understand the importance of creating an estate plan, you may not know that keeping your plan current is every bit as important as creating a plan, to begin with.

In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, outdated estate plans are one of the most common estate planning mistakes we encounter. We’ll get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was not properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind will be stuck with the mess you’ve left, or they could end up in a costly and traumatic court process that can drag out for months or even years. READ MORE