Wills, trusts and other estate planning tools help you protect your assets, provide guidance for family members and prevent consequences or distributions that go against your wishes. Selecting an executor for your estate or an administrator for your will is an important part of the process.
An executor will have the responsibility and the authority to collect assets, pay debts or claims against the estate, pay taxes, distribute property and assets to beneficiaries, and manage the property in the estate. This is a serious task, which means you need to choose wisely when designating your executor.
As we have previously noted for readers from time to time, estate planning-related stories involving high-profile individuals and families are sometimes much more than pure entertainment fodder.
Put another way: They can put a quick and potent spotlight on relevant topics ranging from will contests and probate administration to relevant elder law considerations and long-term care planning.
"[G]ood planning while the parent is still of sound mind can minimize the damage."
That is a statement that fairly jumps out of a recent article focusing on dementia, a disease that reportedly affects more than five million Americans across the country.
Many people in Texas and across the country harbor a number of material misconceptions about estate planning. Following are a couple big ones, tagged as myths.
First, myth number one: It's all about the will.
When putting together estate plans, if a loved one in your life is living with a disability -- and is mentally unable to manage his or her own finances -- you may want to consider working with an attorney to create a special needs trust. This is an estate planning tool that ensures resources are given to a loved one, without having to worry about that person losing any government assistance.
In the most basic of terms, according to a FindLaw article, a special needs trust allows you to name a trustee and a beneficiary. The beneficiary will be the person receiving the assets, while the trustee is the person who will be in charge of managing the assets. This trustee should be someone who you know could handle this responsibility. If no one is named, the court will appoint a third party.
One thing that is immediately notable about estate planning -- that is, well-considered and carefully tailored planning for an individual or family -- is its comprehensive nature.
Put another way, a sound and effective plan is centrally marked by its thoughtful incorporation of myriad integrated factors. In most cases, it's not simply about just a house or some money. Rather, a meaningful plan will have considered whether one or more trusts might advance a planner's interests. It will have considered whether the special needs of a family member must be addressed. It will have looked at inheritances, property, taxes, elder-care needs, guardianships, gifting, charitable intent and much more.
Leaving a lasting legacy.
What an exciting prospect that truly is, for virtually any individual who is thinking about his or her family and future generations.
Given that every family is different, so, too, will be the attitudes of various family members regarding the provisions of a will in any instance.
In some cases, nothing but warm hugs and universal happiness will follow from the reading of a will, with every family member feeling cherished and fairly dealt with. In other cases, rancor and discord will envelop the room in which a will's details are being spilled forth. Dad did what?
With many estate administration concerns, advance planning can make all the difference.
Although that might seem immediately obvious to many people regarding things like wills, tax avoidance and the disposition of assets to heirs, it can be a bit less clear in other areas.
Take Medicaid for example, especially the program’s requirements for qualification.
Many people are flatly in the dark on that subject matter, and understandably so, given the complexity with which the program is administered and its benefits conferred.