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Abuse of a power of attorney
A person with a power of attorney is a fiduciary (fih-DOO-see-air-ee). If a person exercises a power of attorney wrongfully, he or she can be held personally accountable.
Am I in the will?
Sometimes persons named in the will are erroneously told that there are no assets to be passed to them. Sometimes persons acting as trustees or under powers of attorney have reduced the size of the estate before the person died.
Changing your will
Wills can be changed at any time before death. It's a good idea to review your will periodically, especially when important changes occur in your family, such as the birth of a new child or the death of one of your beneficiaries.
Children/assets from a previous marriage
Children and assets from a previous marriage are often of frequent concern to persons planning their estate. These children and assets can be addressed through the signing of pre-nuptial agreements, also known as premarital and ante-nuptial agreements.
Consequences of dying without a will
If you die without a valid will, state law will govern the distribution of your assets. This may not be what you want. The court will appoint a person, usually your spouse or next of kin, to administer your estate.
Do living trusts avoid probate?
A living trust may partially substitute for a will and as such, the use of a living trust can avoid probate for all assets placed into the trust. This assumes that all the beneficiaries named in the trust are still living.
Does a living trust protect me and my family?
A living trust should not be confused with a living will. A living will pertains to health matters. A living trust, on the other hand, is designed to protect your and your family's assets from high taxes, probate, probate expenses, public inspection, and prolonged disbursement of funds.
Grown children
If your children are grown, it's likely that now, or before long, you'll have grandchildren. You can help your own children pay for your grandchildren's college fund by creating a custodial account and making periodic contributions to it.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
A guardian is someone appointed by will or by a court to take care of and protect the affairs and legal rights of minor children or people who are mentally or physically unable to take care of themselves.
Health care/powers of attorney
By executing a durable power of attorney, you can ensure that a person you trust will manage your financial affairs should you become unable to do so.
How to protect your estate from medical and nursing expenses
Many persons are concerned about protecting their assets from the ever-increasing cost of medical and residential nursing care. There are options available for most persons to protect a portion of their assets as the likelihood of needing expensive medical and residential nursing care approaches.
Joint accounts
In the case of property in which two or more parties share ownership, when one dies, the remaining owner automatically become the owner of the entire property.
Living wills
Living wills are legally valid and binding documents that direct a patient's physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in certain circumstances.
Minor children
There are certain items all parents need, regardless of their children's ages. These items include a written will, a durable power of attorney, life insurance coverage, retirement plans, living wills, and health care powers of attorney.
No planning
Lack of planning when it comes to your estate is a blueprint for disaster. There are multitudes of possibilities that can ensue without that most basic of documents--the written will.
Powers of a trustee
A trustee is the person appointed to manage the property placed in a trust. The trustee is chosen by the person creating the trust. If, for some reason, the trustee named in the trust cannot serve, the court will appoint a replacement trustee.
Preparing for and storing your will
There are a few things to consider before drawing up your will and storing it. Planning ahead for the visit to your attorney's office can save you time and money.
Preparing for disability or incapacity
If you become unable to manage your own affairs, a court could appoint a guardian or conservator to handle some or all of these affairs for you. A court appointed guardianship and conservatorship, however, is more expensive and time consuming than one designated specifically by you.
Probate
When a person dies, his or her property can be distributed in one of three ways: by a valid will, by a signed living trust, or by the laws governing the distribution of a decedent's property if he or she has not left a valid will.
Probate of estates
Probate is a legal term for the court procedure of finalizing the affairs of a person who has died and left a will. Usually the executor (ig-ZEK-yuh-ter) named in the will begins the probate process by filing the original will with the court.
Simple wills
A will is a declaration, usually in writing, that distributes your property after your death. In your will, you decide who will inherit your property, administer your estate, and take care of your children.
Trusts
Trusts are methods of transferring assets to other entities or individuals, often for the purpose of saving on taxes. In a trust, its creator transfers specific responsibilities to a trustee, for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.
What do I need?
When it comes to estate planning, everyone has his or her own priorities, based on age, interests, and financial or family responsibilities. One item you need is a valid, written will.
What is a fiduciary?
A fiduciary (fih-DOO-see-air-ee) is a person holding the highest duty known to the law. Commonly known fiduciaries are executors and administrators of estates, guardians, and trustees.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is a person legally responsible for the personal and financial care of someone unable to manage his or her own affairs. Such people often include minor children or physically or mentally disabled adults.
What is a joint tenancy?
Joint tenancy is one of the ways in which two or more persons may hold legal title to real estate or personal property. A distinctive feature of joint tenancy is that when one of the owners, known as a joint tenant, dies, the deceased person's interest in that property usually passes to the surviving tenant or tenants.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is basically a legal arrangement in which a person retains, manages, controls and eventually disposes of property for another person. The person who retains, manages and controls the property is called the trustee.
What is a trust?
A trust is basically an arrangement whereby property is transferred with the intention that it be administered by a trustee for another's benefit. The person whom the trust is intended to benefit is called the beneficiary.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that disposes of a person's property after his or her death. This document lets you control what happens to your property and affairs, and enables you to designate a guardian if children are involved.
What is guardianship?
A guardian is an adult that is given the legal right to care for a child should the child's parents die or become unable to do so. A guardian accepts all legal responsibilities for supporting and educating the child and is accountable to the courts for the child's well-being and financial best interests.
What is the difference between an executor and a trustee?
An executor is a person appointed by the probate court to administer the estate of a decedent. A trustee is a person who enters into an agreement to hold - and sometimes manage - assets for beneficiaries of a trust.
When do I need a living trust?
A living trust is a legal document drafted by an attorney and is an alternative to a will. If your property passes by will, a probate court action will generally be necessary after your death.
When do I need a minor's trust for my children?
If your children are minors, in other words, under 18 years of age, the court will require that all financial assets passing directly to them be put in a blocked account and placed only in extremely low risk investments such as certificates of deposit.
When do I need a will?
If you don't provide for your estate by making a will or a living trust, your estate will be distributed according to state law. Generally, under State law, all community property will go to your spouse, and all separate property will be split between your spouse and your children.
Why a will is necessary
A will is important because it allows you to determine how your affairs should be handled after your death. Usually, wills provide for the payment of debts and distribution of your property.
Will contests
A will may be contested by relatives or beneficiaries. There are generally four grounds for contesting (KUN-test-ing) a will; one: that the deceased was incompetent when he or she made the will, two: that the deceased was acting under undue influence or fraud when he or she made the will, three: that the will has been improperly executed, or four: that there is a later valid will.
Wills, trusts, and special trusts
When a person dies, the ownership of his or her property passes to other people. If the deceased person left a valid will, the will dictates who will get the property.


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