Common Estate Planning Myths

We have all seen it on TV or heard about a well-to-do individual who unexpectedly dies without leaving a valid will, trust, or estate plan consequently leaving the court to dictate how the deceased’s assets are distributed to his or her living heirs. When individuals pass away without leaving an official will, their property or estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy where only married, civil partners, immediate children or some other close relatives can inherit the property.

Protecting Your Assets

However, if someone has a will, but it is not legally valid, probate will decide how the assets are divided and not the wishes stated in the will. Which is why you need an estate planning attorney who can help you in creating an estate plan, among other things such as avoiding probate and reducing estate taxes. It is also important to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney to ensure that your beneficiaries are protected from creditor problems, bad decision making or outside influences.

Having someone in charge after you die will also protect your assets from unexpected creditors and go a long way towards avoiding family feuds and costly probate court proceedings. It’s important to have probate lawyer so that your family members can have some security in the event of your passing, especially when you fear that disputes may arise from the disposition of property.

After all the, it is the probate lawyer who prepares and files a petition for the final will distribution. He or she can also liaise with your attorney to handle non-probate issues that require legal attention, such as obtaining payment of life insurance, payment of annuities as well as handling subsidiary probate if any property is owned in another state.

Common Estate Planning Myths:

Are you a victim of the following estate planning myths and misconceptions?

I’m Too Young for Estate Planning

Someone as young as 20 years can have a will. Therefore, starting your estate planning while you’re still young and keeping it updated regularly will keep your assets free from legal complications in the event of incapacity or death.

I Don’t Need an Attorney to do Probate

You do because the procedural requirements for probates are complex and handing the task of preparing a detailed estate plan to a personal representative will alleviate an enormous burden on you. Besides, your estate planning documents rendered invalid due to errors when you do it yourself.

I’m not Wealthy

All adults who have children or own any property or assets should plan for incapacity and death regardless of the value of their estate.

The Court Can Correct a Bias Will

Even if a will benefits one person or sibling more than the other, the court is not authorized to revise a deceased Will provided he or she executed a valid will in the first place. You may also have a revocable living trust, however, making a will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors.

Contact Us

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

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An Estate Plan Is Needed Even If You Do Not Have Children

Individuals with children usually create an estate plan as the result of advice from financial advisor and estate attorney.  This is due to a sense of urgency and need to ensure there is a laid down plan to cater for the needs of their children in the event of an untimely demise. On the other hand, those without children tend to ignore the importance of having an estate plan, either because they feel it is not necessary or because they feel there is still a lot of time. Whatever the case, it is still importance to create an estate plan that will ensure the protection of your valued assets before and after your death.

You Determine Where Your Assets Go

When you are married with children, it is easy to solve the puzzle of who controls your assets even if that must be settled in court. However, if you fail to create an estate plan, you would be allowing the government to decide what to do with your assets when you pass away. The state courts will determine what happens to your assets in this case dying intestate. Even if you may not have children, you may want to share some of your valued assets with a charitable organization, religious body, a local support group, a foundation you create to award deserving students with scholarships, and other incentives. This will only be possible when you create an estate plan.

Crucial Medical Decisions

In the event of a car accident or a sudden illness that leaves you in an unstable condition, unable to decide the best medical procedure you prefer, you would want someone that can stand in. If you have an immediate family member or children, this responsibility easily falls their way. However, in the absence of an immediate family and without any healthcare directives or information regarding your willingness to accept certain procedures such as donation of organs, specialists are required to carry out only the typical medical care to sustain life. This procedure may involve keeping you on life-saving machines which could massively affect your hard-earned assets. You can never tell tomorrow’s possibilities, so it is important to create an estate plan as it can prevent a catastrophic situation in future.

Choosing a Professional

Although it is possible to create an estate plan without the help of a legal source, it might be ideal and in your best interest to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure the security and legality of the document and to avoid any issues in future. Even if you do not have children, an estate plan is an invaluable asset to make sure your desires are known.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

Risks of Not Having an Estate Plan

Don’t have an estate plan for your estate? Are you under the impression that such plans only exist for those with large estates that are well off? If this is your assumption it is false and holds no merit. In fact, an estate plan is the best thing you can do, no matter how large or small your estate is, to ensure the safety of your property, and the well-being of your loved ones. An estate plan is the best way to protect your assets from probate laws. In fact, not having an estate plan subjects your property to several risks and hazards. The following are a few harmful risks of not having an estate plan:

Asset Distribution

The main aspect of a will, trust, or an estate plan is asset distribution. With your estate plan you can tell your family and the law just how you want your property to be divided. If you do not declare the method in which your property is supposed to be divided, the court simply passes on the property to your closest relatives, spouse, and children respectively. This can lead to a number of conflicts arising amongst your family, especially if you have been married more than once or if you are divorced. Thus, to ensure that your assets are properly distributed you need to make an estate plan.

End-of-Life Care

An estate plan is not just concerned with property and asset distribution, it can be utilized for dictating your healthcare during your final days or during illnesses. Often, many people are incapacitated by illnesses in their final days and cannot properly make their opinions and demands heard. Using an estate plan, those affected by illnesses such as Alzheimer’s can dictate their family and friends and let them know their wishes through power of attorney. An estate plan ensures that you are not helpless and that you dictate your life even at the very end.

Challenges caused by probate laws

Probate laws deal with the changing ownership of property and every single dealing that goes into the changing of owners. Without an estate plan, the probate courts will seize your property and subject them to probate laws while your heirs helplessly look on. With an estate plan you will be able to give a proper outline or blueprint about how your property is supposed to be handled. Wills and estate plans might not exempt your assets from estate laws but forming trusts can. The execution of a trust as part of an estate plan is a huge step in ensuring your heirs get what you want them to.

Don’t have an estate plan yet? If not, you should get one as quickly as possible. We never know where life might lead us, and it is better to be prepared for adverse occurrences beforehand. Create your estate plan immediately to make sure that your assets are handled the way you want them to. An estate plan helps you dictate your own life right to the very end.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

Avoid these Costly Mistakes by Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

In order to pass your estate along to your deserving heirs it is important that you choose a family law attorney to help you draw up an estate plan to avoid extra taxes and probate when you do pass.  An experienced and trusted estate planning lawyer will help to ensure that your assets are distributed properly upon your passing.  They will also be an important part of putting in place a medical power or attorney, POW, just in case you become unable to make decisions regarding your care before your passing.

The process of finding an attorney that is qualified to help you can bequite daunting.  It is however impertitive to the success of transferring your assets upon your passing.  The right attorney will not let you make the mistakes that many people commonly make when creating an estate plan.  There are serious blunders that can be made that should be avoided to create an easy transition of estate upon your passing or if you should become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Avert Common Misconceptions

Many people think that hiring the services of an estate planning lawyer is only for the rich and affluent.  This however is so far from reality.  Proper preparations for distribution of properties is essential.  Everyone has assets of one kind or another be it real estate, investments, personal belongings,and more.   You do not have to be rich in order to own assets that you will want distributed to your family without the hassle and expense that can come from probate.

Regardless of your financial assets, it is beneficial to have an estate plan in place to distribute your assets.  Asset distribution can be more efficient using a professional lawyer.  An attorney can help reduce the taxes to ensure a smooth transition of these assets to your beneficiaries. The idea is to make sure that your properties are transferred according to your wishes and not determined by a court.

Initial Arrangements

When seeking an estate planning attorney, there are certain things you would want to ask first. Know what the service charges are and what are the best proceedings in place to be applied to reduce tax requirements. Also, check to see if there are any apparent problems with your wishes among the beneficiaries and how best to make these arrangements.

A will or trust may be needed to be updated after the initial draft of your estate plan. So, make sure that you understand about the process. Your lawyer should be provided as much information as possible, which will make it easier to prepare your estate plan. Discuss your bank account information, insurance, pension and retirement plans, debt list, etc. with the attorney during the process.

Seek Attorney References

The best way to look for an estate planning lawyer is to ask for references. Use the help of attorneys, financial advisors, or even the local bar association to find out about professionals near you. Look for advertisements that offer relevant information. A good resort can be to look up online and visit the websites of local attorneys in your area. Professional attorneys will have a proper website with adequate information regarding their service. You may even find testimonials of satisfied customers that have sought real estate planning of their properties.

The power of a good estate planning attorney will help plan your assets well for the time when it comes to distributing your properties among the beneficiaries. A specialist in the field will be the best choice for the job.

Benefits of Gifting Assets

One of the most prominent benefits of segregating your properties is to reduce estate taxes. Once these assets are distributed, they cease to hold against the value of the estate. Hence, taxes levied are comparatively much less. Another advantage is that a capable attorney will remove the hassles that your beneficiaries may have to bear related to paying taxes, litigation, and other additional expenses.

The biggest benefit however is the peace of mind that the asset owner gets by appointing an estate planning lawyer to handle the task of distribution. Knowing that your beneficiaries will not have to face tedious legal issues to claim their rights will be quite a relief.

By incorporating a proper will in place with the legal documents to specify the rightful heir to your property, you will be able to receive the opportunity to determine who acquires which of your assets. An estate planning attorney will help you greatly in the process so you can be rest assured that your belongings get distributed in the proper way as per your desire.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

The Important of Updating Existing Estate Plans Going into a New Year

Managing legal issues of any kind can be difficult but especially those dealing with the passing of a loved one and probate.  The issues that can arise in these situations often cost a good deal of time and money to establish their outcome.  Although these situations should be avoided with an up to date estate plan in place this is not always the case. We get busy and what was once true and current can often become dated and murky.

Estate Planning Attorney

Hiring an attorney that specializes in family law while focusing on elder care, estate planning, and probate law can often help in ensuring that upon your passing your estate is distributed without issue.  However, if there is an issue they will understand how to help your family to avoid time consuming, costly legal battles.

To avoid issues that can arise upon your untimely passing or inability to take care of yourself any longer you need to have an updated estate plan in place.  There are a million and ten reasons that an estate plan can become outdated therefore it is important going into a new year to look at what is in place and make the updates that are needing.

Life Is Full Of Change

There may be major reason in your life including changes in the law, family changes including divorce, marriage, death and more, personal decisions, and more.  Documents within your estate plan also can become outdated.  Another scenario that often comes up are with the sub trusts and the federal tax exemption and portability which are a new concept.

Federal tax is assessed on the descendent and their estate for any amount larger than the exemption that is allowed upon death.  The estate and gift tax exemption for 2017 is 5.49 million per individual.  It is also important to think about relationship changes within the family; were there any marriages, divorces, births, deaths, adoptions, and so forth.  These changes to your family should be accessed and modified as seen fit.  Keeping an up to date, crystal clear, plan for your estate will ensure an easier transition for your family upon you passing.  The last thing that people want during the grieving process is to process issues arising from improper planning.

Updating Your Legal Documents

There are several reasons to update wills and trusts, estate plans, beneficiary information, and so forth.  No one likes to think about it, but your passing can happen without any notice.  In case of your untimely passing it is important to ensure that estate ends up in the hands of the beneficiaries you desire.

To guarantee that this is the case it is important to have a plan in place that is regularly reviewed and updated by an attorney specializing in family law and estate planning.  Having an attorney that is up to date on the current laws regarding inheritance, real estate, transfers of ownership, and the working of the courts in all things related to probate as they can make sure the documentation is valid and the changes that are completed are done so according to local and federal laws.

There are times when you have in your mind about changing the estate plan but due to your ignorance you do not complete the task. In such situation if a serious condition or death occurs then it becomes difficult to manage your estate plan. It is always important that you never let anyone know what you want them to have and simply get it done to the estate documents.

Make Yearly Reviews A Necessity

It is important to make changes as you see fit however we all know how life gets in the way.  Make sure to get in at least once a year around the New Year without exception.  There is no meaning in waiting for the time to come. It is important that you complete this task as quick as it is possible for you so that you get peace of mind. If you are not having a plan, then you should meet your estate planning attorney in New Year and plan. You should get the documents ready as soon as possible. If you have assets, then you should get some beneficiaries added to it.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at http://seanjnichols.com/estate_planning.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

Blended Family Estate Planning

We have all seen blended families portrayed on TV.  They are always depicted by happy, wholesome family members that love each other to the depths of their hearts.  In reality however, this is not always true. The love factor may always resonate but elements can fade when it comes to the passing of a loved one and their estate.  Often time’s things get messy.

In order to skip that mess and to have a better plan, it is important to hire an estate planning attorney whose firm specializes in family law who will help you create a plan to prevent any uneasiness between family members upon your passing.  However, before you do that, you should really consider your future. In doing so, you should alleviate any guess work and but incorporate all the metrics which can give you a real insight into what lies ahead. Also, it can be said that the future of your blended family depends upon who owns the estate, how many members have a right to it, and are there any preliminary steps already taken by the estate owner.

There are three basic considerations to think about when you are estate planning.

1) Trusts

Trusts are established in order to ensure a healthy distribution of the assets of a remarried couple. There are many types of trusts, the QIPT, Marital, and Bypass trusts. However, choosing the right trust depends upon the financial status of the real estate.

It should also be noted that whatever trust you are establishing, you should always consider placing your children as the intermediate beneficiaries. By doing this, you conserve their rights as on your death they will be paid some amount.

On the other hand, if you name surviving spouse as your successor trustee, then chances are that the differences between him or her and your children will pull the family in troubles in the future.

2) The Power of Wills and Attorneys

It doesn’t matter which kind of trust you establish. If you’re living will says something otherwise than what the trust says, then your will is the one that is going to be preferred. We recommend you set up a living will and also establish power of attorney not only for your medical decisions but also for the financial decisions when you are no longer able to take them yourself.

This practice can eliminate the confusion and the emotional stress that would prevail in your family upon your terminal ailment. Also, someone who is experienced and sound minded will help you indirectly steer things the way you want it to go.

3) Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Plans

Both of these require you to name beneficiaries for the assets that they bear. Upon your death, the beneficiary that you have named will be given all the assets. Thus, it is necessary for everyone to check the beneficiaries which they have named so that a minor or a former spouse is not listed.

Finding the right estate planning in a blended family can be a tough task because in such families the tendency of complexities is more. Thus, in order to get everything right, work with an elder law attorney that offers specialized services in family law.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Don’t Forget To Update Your Estate Plan in the New Year

Estate plans like everything else in life needs to be renewed on a yearly basis. The fact that you had it done at all does not mean you should lock it up in the safe to gather dust. Every day there are changes in your life from personal circumstances, finance, health, and business dealings of great importance. These changes inadvertently could make your last estate plan obsolete, and there is the need for new plans to prevent unforeseen crises from posing greater burdens to your family.

Your estate planning will improve on the last draft and take care of any infraction of the law in case there have been changes in the law upon which the old Wills was made. The following outline the reasons you need to update your estate plan in the New Year.

Changes in Tax Laws

The law of the land is what gives Wills its legal teeth. If your estate plans run contrary to provisions of the law, it may become a burden to your family after you are gone. Engaging in estate planning update helps to bring your current wills under the prevailing law.

Divorce and Marriage

The last estate plans you did, you were in a marriage, but you just divorced and to leave the Wills in favor of your ex-partner will cause problems for your survivors when you are gone. Updating it now will replace it with the right beneficiary.

Changes in the Size of Your Estate

We grow older every day; your asset may increase or reduce as the case may be. Whatever is the situation, estate planning will add the correct asset value in your estate to make life a peaceful one for your family after your departure.

Acquisition or Disposition of an Asset

When you change the physical structure of your asset whether by acquiring more assets or you dispose of some assets, it is expedient to update your estate so you can factor in the new reality into your Wills.

Change in trustee, guardians or personal representatives. Wills are drafted to settle our estate most amicably after we departed; at the time of the last draft, your baby had a Guardian whose name appeared in the Will, but that has changed to a new person. A new estate planning will take care of the changes in the name of the guardian or representative.

New Thinking

We all seem to get better with the passage of time; this may be enough reasons to have a rethinking on some issues which may necessitate a change in your estate document.

New Rules Surrounding POA Rules

Some financial and health institutions have laws that may cause them to refuse Power of attorney if its older than certain age (a year or two), updating your estate planning will make your current Wills fresh, new, and current to make your Wills acceptable.

A yearly update of your estate plans makes it current and agrees with your life at the moment. Your survivors will have no problem executing your wills after you are gone without constituting a burden to your loved ones.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.