Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property This Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit Your Own Children

Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous.  Sadly, children – both minor and adult – are often disinherited. While there are several forms of joint ownership, the one most people use (and the one considered in this discussion) is called “Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship.” When one owner dies, the jointly owned asset automatically, by operation of law, transfers to the surviving owner. Joint ownership is a very common way for married people to own their assets. Joint ownership is also commonly used by aging parents and their adult children. Joint [...]

Why Not Just Go on Nolo® or LegalZoom or Other Form Provider and Create Your Own Estate Planning Documents Cheaply?

There are many software programs, as well as websites, that sell do-it-yourself estate planning documents.  These websites and form tools seem to offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative to consulting with an estate planning attorney.  But do they really meet your needs and protect your family?  Is online, do-it-yourself estate planning worth the perceived upfront savings? Penny Wise and Pound Foolish In all but the simplest scenarios, do-it-yourself estate planning is risky and can become a costly substitute for comprehensive in-person planning with a professional legal advisor.  Typically, these online programs and services have significant limitations when it comes to [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:57:17+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

3 Reasons You Want to Avoid Probate

3 Reasons You Want to Avoid Probate When you pass away, your family may need to visit a probate court in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other asset) in only your name. Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply lets you inform the probate court of your wishes – your family still has to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal. Now that you have an idea of why probate might [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:13:28+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Declare Your Independence from Court Interference!

While the rest of the nation celebrates its independence on July 4th, you can rest assured that you too can declare independence for your family — from court interference.  Life can be unpredictable.  Whether it is a financial issue, the birth or adoption of a child, sickness or incapacity, it is important to be prepared with proper estate planning.  In fact, failure to put together a comprehensive estate plan can leave you and your loved ones at the mercy of the court when it comes to distributing assets or caring for a minor or sick family member. Estate Planning Basics [...]

Wills vs. Trusts: A Quick & Simple Reference Guide

Confused about the differences between wills and trusts?  If so, you’re not alone. While it’s always wise to contact experts like us, it’s also important to understand the basics. Here’s a quick and simple reference guide: What Revocable Living Trusts Can Do – That Wills Can’t Avoid a conservatorship and guardianship. A revocable living trust allows you to authorize your spouse, partner, child, or other trusted person to manage your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs. Wills only become effective when you die, so they are useless in avoiding conservatorship and guardianship proceedings during your life. Bypass probate. Property in [...]

Isn’t There Already a Law That Leaves Everything to My Spouse and Kids?

Many people think that if they die while they are married, everything they own automatically goes to their spouse or children. They’re actually thinking of state rules that apply if someone dies without leaving a will. In legal jargon, this is referred to as “intestate.” In that case, the specifics will vary depending on each state’s law, so where you live when you die can significantly change the outcome for your family. However, the general rule is that your spouse will receive a share, and the rest will be divided among your children. Exactly how much a spouse will inherit depends [...]

Help! This Probate Is Taking Forever!!!

After a loved one dies, her estate must be settled. While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 18 and 24 months. Yes, you heard that right. The time delays create unnecessary stress. 5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long There are many reasons why probating a will takes so long. Here are five of the most common: Managing probate required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines. Estates with numerous or complicated assets simply take longer to probate as there are more items to be accounted for and [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:23:28+00:00April 9th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Probate

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often comes with a starkly negative connotation. Indeed, for many people — especially those with larger estates — financial planners recommend trying to keep property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the property of the deceased and his/her heirs, and in a few cases it may even work to an advantage. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate. The Pros For some estates, especially those in which no will was left, the system works to make sure all [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:28:54+00:00December 1st, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Michael Jackson’s Estate Pulled Into Seemingly Endless Probate Court Battles

Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” had always been a controversial superstar. Over the years, he became the father of three children, Prince Michael Jackson II, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, and Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr.  While Jackson created a trust to care for his children and other family and friends, he never actually funded it. The result? Embarrassing and seemingly endless probate court battles between family members, the executors, and the IRS. 4 Essential Purposes of a Trust A trust is a fiduciary arrangement which allows a third party (known as a trustee) to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries. There are four [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:16+00:00August 18th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Skyrocketing Probate Fees – Another Reason to Avoid Probate Court

As of July 1, 2015, Connecticut probate courts earned the dubious distinction of charging the highest probate fees in the U.S.  Amazingly, the Connecticut legislature voted to completely cut general fund support for the state’s probate courts for the next two fiscal years, thereby creating a $32 million deficit.  In order to cover the shortfall, the fees charged for settling a deceased person’s estate in Connecticut were significantly increased and the $12,500 cap on probate fees was eliminated.  To make matters worse, these changes apply retroactively to all deaths dating back to January 1, 2015.  As a result, it is estimated [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:40:17+00:00August 3rd, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Year End Estate Planning Tip #4 – Check the Privacy of Your Estate Plan

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is ensuring that their final wishes remain private. Will Your Final Wishes Become a Public Court Record? Let’s face it, planning for what happens if you become mentally incapacitated or die is an extremely personal matter. Why? Because this type of planning deals with all of the intimate details of your life, including any skeletons in the closet, who you consider to [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:47:08+00:00October 23rd, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Many people believe that once they set up and fund a revocable living trust, property held in the trust will avoid estate taxes after they die.  In reality, this may or may not be true depending on your choice of beneficiaries and the terms written into your trust agreement. Single Trustmakers and Estate Taxes If you’re single and you create and fund a revocable living trust, all of your assets held in the trust will be subject to estate taxes after you die if your beneficiaries are individuals.  In other words, if your beneficiaries are your children, your brothers and [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:47:45+00:00September 15th, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Will Your Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate? It Depends.

If you’ve set up a Revocable Living Trust, congratulations!  You’re definitely on the right track. But…you’re only half way there. Many believe because they took the time to create a Trust, their estate will automatically avoid probate.  Unfortunately, this is a false sense of security. The key to probate avoidance is proper asset ownership, including the full funding of your Revocable Living Trust. What are Probate Assets? What assets require probate? Accounts and real estate titled in your sole, individual name [without a payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designation] Accounts and real estate you own as [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:48:15+00:00July 1st, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Caution: Writing Your Own Deed to Avoid Probate Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

One common way to avoid probate of real estate after the owner dies is to hold the title to the property in joint names with rights of survivorship with children or other beneficiaries.  This is accomplished by adding the names of the children and certain legal terms to a new deed for the property and then recording it in the applicable public land records.  Many people believe that they do not need to pay an attorney to help them prepare and record the new deed.  Instead, they think that a deed form can simply be downloaded from the internet or [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:48:40+00:00April 3rd, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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