Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Reasons Why You Should Consider a Living Trust

UnicornTrusts can be an extremely important feature in an estate plan, but they are not magical - they cannot do anything and everything imaginable. There are various types of trusts, but one that many people have heard of but unaware of their features is that of a living trust. A living trust is one that you make while you are still alive and can be either revocable or irrevocable. Depending on the language of the trust document, here are a few things that a living trust can do for you:

  • Reduce your estate tax
  • Protect minor children
  • Save your adult children from themselves
  • Keep your assets in the family
  • Take the sting out of the fling (in case you fear a tryst by a family member may put your assets in danger)
  • Avoid probate
  • Ensure your family's privacy
  • Protect yourself while you are alive

See Christine Fletcher, 9 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Living Trust, Forbes, August 16, 2018.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

4 Overlooked Items to Include in Your Estate Plan

FamilybusinessThose with family businesses, especially those that have serviced numerous generations, understand the need to take into account the details. Several articles have listed common items that every client to include in their estate planning documents. But often there are a few pieces of the puzzle that regularly get mislaid, possibly due to evolving cultural norms or increased technology. 

Consider these forgotten items when meeting with your estate planning team:

  • Incapacity
    • “The plan should prepare for your incapacity, not just for your death. It’s increasingly likely that the average person will experience one or more periods of incapacity during their lifetime. A trust can allow for the seamless management of assets during those periods of incapacity.”
  • Management
    • If you pass away before your heirs are old enough or mature enough, assets may need to be kept in trust until such a time as they can take over the management of them.
  • Divorce Protection
    • In today's society, 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even if your heirs are currently happily married, it is a fact of life that that may not always be the case.
  • Asset Protection
    • “The plan should consider whether the beneficiaries will have creditor issues. For maximum asset protection, the assets for the beneficiary can be left in a fully discretionary trust with a third-party trustee."

See Amanda Radke, 4 Overlooked Items to Include in Your Estate Plan, Beef.com, August 15, 2018.

August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Article on Homestead: A (New) Hope

HomeThomas E. Simmons recently published an Article entitled, Homestead: A (New) Hope, 63 S.D. L. Rev. 75-130 (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

A finely-tuned balancing of the free functioning of private and commercial enterprise against a family's interests in shelter and a home is at the heart of homestead exemption laws. In South Dakota's history, this balancing act has been displayed over a 145-year history in the form of legislative enactments, judicial decisions, and referendums. This history illuminates the expression of values against the dynamics of rule-making. A previously published article in this review, Prequel to Homestead, outlined South Dakota's homestead laws under the contemporary statutory framework and also considered the constitutional history of homestead laws leading up to South Dakota's becoming a state in 1889. This article picks up where the prior article left off and presents judicial decisions dealing with the constitutional ambits of the homestead exemption beginning in 1889 and continuing through today. It concludes with an assessment of an unresolved homestead issue in the context of asset protection: whether a trust-owned or entity-owned home qualifies for homestead protection rights.

The policy of the law is to preserve a home for the family even at the sacrifice of just demands.

 

August 13, 2018 in Articles, Disability Planning - Property Management | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

CLE on Planning for Individuals with Chronic Illnesses

CLEThe Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law of the American Bar Association is holding a webinar entitled, Planning for Individuals with Chronic Illnesses, on August 21, 2018 at 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT. Provided below is a description of the event:

Many clients are affected by chronic illnesses and a large number of those are under 64. This program will hopefully help you identify clients affected by chronic illness, understand more planning opportunities, and advise them and their families accordingly.
 
This program will cover:
 - Income tax planning
 - Investment and financial planning
 - Insurance planning
 - Disability planning
 - Competency and cognitive issues
 - Estate planning

August 12, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Adulting: Planning for Life When You are Least Expected to Live

Estate-planning-thinkstock-780x520Many clients that create an estate plan only plan on their inevitable death rather than a "worst case scenario." Catastrophes such as plane crashes, car wrecks, or other sudden life-ending events should be planned for, as well as catastrophes that do not end in death but rather incapacity or the inability to work.

Every individual over the age of 18 should have a power of attorney. A power of attorney grants your agent significant authority to act on your behalf. Obviously, you should choose an agent whom you implicitly trust. A health care proxy similarly appoints an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to express your wishes.

"Marriage to a person does not give you automatic authority to access their individual financial accounts. Living with your parents does not give you the right to access their accounts, nor can they access yours. In the event you do not have a power of attorney, your spouse and children are barred access to your individual assets, which they may need to survive. In the event an agent is not appointed, your family may be forced to request court intervention for the appointment of a guardian or conservator, which is an emotionally difficult and expensive process."

See Cori A. Robinson, Adulting: Planning for Life When You are Least Expected to Live, Above the Law, July 31, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 11, 2018 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

CLE on 29th Annual Estate Planning and Probate Drafting

CLEThe Texas Bar Association is holding a conference entitled, 29th Annual Estate Planning and Probate Drafting, on October 4, 2018 - October 5, 2018, at the Westin Galleria Dallas in Dallas, Texas. Provided below is a description of the event:

This program will identify, analyze, and discuss issues that arise in drafting documents in the areas of estate planning, probate, and fiduciary litigation, and will provide drafting examples and forms for the practitioner to utilize to adequately and comprehensively address these issues. Although many seasoned estate planners and probate practitioners will find much to interest and challenge them in this course, the program’s goal is to deliver papers and presentations that are relevant, thoughtful, and creative for attorneys at all levels of practice in these fields, and to include updates and a discussion of trends in the changing areas of the law. Overall, the course is designed to help attendees recognize and address issues that continue to arise and evolve in their practices, with helpful tools to take back to their offices and utilize immediately.

August 9, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Estate Planning 101: 5 Lessons for New Parents

BabyhandA new parent has a plethora of new tasks when it comes to that new baby or child: feeding, cleaning, bathing, and the all-consuming daily tasks that now take over one's life.  It is important, however, to have the wherewithal to make a plan for that precious child's future.

  • Set up "Living Documents
    • By naming a proper health care proxy and executing a power of attorney, a parent who becomes incapacitated can ensure someone else can access their funds for their child’s needs and make proper health care decisions for the parent in the interim.
  • Decide on a Guardian or a Trustee
    • Both have different responsibilities, but depending on the circumstances, having one or both can be necessary for your plans for your child.
  • Establish Post-Mortem Documents
    • Creating a will and possibly a separate trust document early in the child's life can alleviate a large amount of stress. If creating both seems too complex, you can create a “testamentary trust” in your last will and testament that is simpler, yet still effective if funded properly.
  • Review your Life Insurance Requirements
    • Many people don’t have much money when they are young, so life insurance becomes critical to ensuring your child has adequate funds available if you pass away at a young age.
  • Update Account Ownership and Beneficiary Designations
    • Properly titling accounts and naming the right beneficiaries to your investment accounts and life insurance policies is essential to finalizing your affairs.

See Daniel A. Timins, Estate Planning 101: 5 Lessons for New Parents, Kilpinger, August 6, 2018.

August 7, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Your Mid-Year Estate Planning Checklist

BeachSummer can be a busy time with kids out of school and vacations in full swing, but it can also be a prime period to review your estate plan and see if there needs to be any adjustments. Below is a checklist that could assist to make sure you cover the essential points.

  • Review your existing Will and any trust agreements.
  • Consider whether your named fiduciaries are still appropriate.
  • Review your beneficiary designations.
  • Consider income tax planning.
  • Review existing insurance coverage (life, homeowners, umbrella, disability, long-term care, etc.).
  • Review your investments – and your investment advisors.
  • Review how your assets are titled.
  • Fund your trust(s)
  • Determine/confirm your estate tax domicile.
  • Get educated – meet with your estate planning attorney and financial professionals to discuss all of the above.

See Lisa P. Staron, July 11, 2018 - Trusts and Estates Group News: Your Mid-Year Estate Planning Checklist, Murtha Law, July 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 17, 2018 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 25, 2018

CLE on Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Wills and Trusts

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Wills and Trusts, on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at the Wyndham Garden Norfolk Downtown in Norfolk, Virginia. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description

Draft Enforceable Estate Planning Documents With These Practical Techniques

Do you have all the information you need to draft customized testamentary documents for each of your clients? Don't spend years gathering precious bits of legal practice wisdom - our experienced attorney faculty are here to share their time-tested methods of identifying clients' needs and creating custom-tailored wills and trusts to fit each specific situation. This legal primer offers all the tools and sample forms to get you started. Get the fundamental skills you need to build your estate planning practice - register today!

  • Get practical will and trust drafting skills to speed up the process and give the testator's last wishes power.
  • Stave off conflicts of interest with a clear determination of who your client is from the start.
  • Learn how to deal with interested relatives who want to be present at all the planning meetings.
  • Explore the pros and cons of using a revocable living trust in the will's stead and find out when it's a better option.
  • Explore the functions and mechanics of major trust structures - and make certain you choose the right tool for each job.
  • Give each provision full power with precise word choices - get sample forms to speed up the process.
  • Make sure your remarried and unmarried clients know the default inheritance laws and help them make sure the right beneficiaries are assigned.
  • Anticipate key tax issues, including individual income tax planning and trust taxation.
  • Phrase the fiduciary and beneficiary designations to leave no room for interpretation.
  • Help your clients make the tough medical decisions regarding long-term care, end-of-life and organ donation.
  • Learn how to verify and document the testator's competency to close the door on any potential will contests.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar offers foundational will and trust drafting skills that will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers and Personal Representatives
  • Estate and Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Tax Professionals

Course Content

  1. Key Elements of Effective Wills
  2. Trusts as Alternatives to Wills
  3. Basic Tax Concerns
  4. Documenting Long-Term Care, Incapacity and End-of-Life Decisions
  5. Ethics
  6. Planning for Unmarried and Remarried Couples

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00 *

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 7.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 7.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

June 25, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

CLE on Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Wills and Trusts

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Wills and Trusts, which will be hold on Thursday, September 13, 2018, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Southfield - Detroit in Southfield, MI. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Draft Enforceable Estate Planning Documents With These Practical Techniques

Do you have all the information you need to draft customized testamentary documents for each of your clients? Don't spend years gathering precious bits of legal practice wisdom - our experienced attorney faculty are here to share their time-tested methods of identifying clients' needs and creating custom-tailored wills and trusts to fit each specific situation. This legal primer offers all the tools and sample forms to get you started. Get the fundamental skills you need to build your estate planning practice - register today!

  • Get practical will and trust drafting skills to speed up the process and give the testator's last wishes power.
  • Stave off conflicts of interest with a clear determination of who your client is from the start.
  • Learn how to deal with interested relatives who want to be present at all the planning meetings.
  • Explore the pros and cons of using a revocable living trust in the will's stead and find out when it's a better option.
  • Explore the functions and mechanics of major trust structures - and make certain you choose the right tool for each job.
  • Give each provision full power with precise word choices - get sample forms to speed up the process.
  • Make sure your remarried and unmarried clients know the default inheritance laws and help them make sure the right beneficiaries are assigned.
  • Anticipate key tax issues, including individual income tax planning and trust taxation.
  • Phrase the fiduciary and beneficiary designations to leave no room for interpretation.
  • Help your clients make the tough medical decisions regarding long-term care, end-of-life and organ donation.
  • Learn how to verify and document the testator's competency to close the door on any potential will contests.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar offers foundational will and trust drafting skills that will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers and Personal Representatives
  • Estate and Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Tax Professionals

Course Content

  1. Key Elements of Effective Wills
  2. Trusts as Alternatives to Wills
  3. Basic Tax Concerns
  4. Documenting Long-Term Care, Incapacity and End-of-Life Decisions
  5. Ethics
  6. Planning for Unmarried and Remarried Couples

Continuing Education Credit

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 7.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 7.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

June 9, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)