It is quite often the personal property that causes the most heartache and disruption in families after a death. Money doesn’t usually have any sentimental attachment, but personal property can have a perceived value far beyond its actual monetary worth. For example, there may be souvenirs from family vacations, various collectibles, or other items of…

For decades a debate raged in legal circles about which documents were better – wills or trusts. Members of the public didn’t really know the difference, but there was a perception that trusts were more complicated and expensive – and were primarily for wealthy people. Those who favored trusts told the story of Ellen. When…

Every so often, things go wrong. No one likes it, especially if the problem could have been avoided. In estate planning, there are a number of reasons why things might not go the way they were planned. In the worst cases, problems can grow into lawsuits. Most of the time, lawsuits are the result of…

When people consider estate planning, they often list “avoiding probate” as one of the reasons they need to have a plan. But when you ask “what is probate?” they usually don’t know, but they know it’s “bad”. That message has been impressed on them for many years through books, seminars, and advisors. An estate plan,…

Today it is common practice to use a revocable living trust as the foundation of an estate plan. One of the reasons professionals recommend trusts is so that their clients can avoid the time delays, costs, and publicity of probate. Indeed, a trust that is fully funded (i.e. all assets are under trust control) does…

When it comes to estate planning, you will often hear the phrase “title = result.” The phrase means that the ultimate results of an estate plan will depend on how each asset in the estate is titled. If something is titled incorrectly, it will remain outside the control of the estate plan, and will likely…

A married couple has special planning challenges if one spouse is not a citizen of the United States. Federal estate tax law requires that a spouse be a U.S. citizen in order to qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. The primary reason for this law is that the IRS does not want a surviving non-citizen…

You can select an individual as a Trustee, such as a close friend or family member; or a professional Trustee can be selected such as an attorney or CPA; or you may choose a financial institution or a bank. A good Trustee should be someone who is honest and trustworthy, because they will have a…

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