Articles Posted in Family

Having discussions with a romantic partner about a prenuptial agreement can be tough. The reality is, however, that marrying someone is, in part, a financial commitment. When talking through a possible prenup with your future spouse, it can be helpful to understand how the agreement might affect each person’s estate plan going forward. Even if you and your partner ultimately decide not to get a prenup, talking through the pros and cons can help you start to have important financial conversations that can prepare you for your future together.

What is a Prenup?

A prenup is shorthand for a prenuptial agreement. By definition, a prenup is a document that you sign with your future spouse that lays out how you would like your property to be distributed in the event of a divorce or death. Absent a prenup, a court could divide your and your spouse’s assets in a way that is not in line with either of your preferences. The court could have you pay alimony in the form of a regular payment or a lump sum, or it could determine that you are on the hook for debt that your spouse has taken on during your marriage.

Divorces can be messy and complicated, and signing a prenup before marriage allows you to bypass some of that complication in case of the worst. Importantly, you cannot prenup around child custody or child support, so those factors will always be left somewhat up to chance in the event of a divorce.

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Unfortunately, when a loved one leaves behind friends and family members, he or she also leaves behind the possibility that there will be disagreements about how to distribute his or her assets. Even when a decedent writes a will or other detailed estate plan, beneficiaries can often disagree about how to interpret the documents or how the money and property should be dispersed. On today’s blog, we talk about ways of resolving estate disputes, which tend to come up when beneficiaries don’t all agree about how to effectuate a loved one’s will.

If you and other possible beneficiaries of a will have found yourselves disagreeing about how to interpret a loved one’s will, the first thing you can do is try to resolve the dispute outside of court. You could, for example, hire a mediator that could hold sessions for the group and try to get everyone to a place where they agree. Sometimes, individuals that wish to contest the contents or interpretation of a will can be persuaded not to pursue their claims simply through the mediation process.

If the group is still at an impasse, any individual that wants to challenge a will can file a lawsuit with the probate court. Any challenges must be filed within two years of the will being admitted to the probate court. Importantly, only those with something called “standing” are legally able to challenge a will; essentially, this means that a party contesting a will must be either the decedent’s spouse, family member, or creditor. Those without any real grounds to file the lawsuit will generally not be heard by the probate court.

In the past, we have written in-depth on our blog about how to spot financial abuse among elderly people you love. The second question many clients ask, which is perhaps an even more important question, is what to do in the face of possible financial elder abuse. There is no “one size fits all” solution, but there are crucial steps you can take to make sure the older people in your life are well protected.

How We Can Help in the Face of Financial Elder Abuse

At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, one of our specialties is long-term care planning. We meet with our clients, learn about their lives, and help them figure out how to choose and pay for their long-term care options. We take pride in making sure all the options that our clients are thinking through are safe and trustworthy so that our clients can decrease the odds they will experience financial abuse from a nursing home, residential facility, or caretaking team. If you think you or a loved one has already experienced financial abuse at a residential facility, we can help you think through how to switch facilities so that you feel safer and at peace with where you live. We can also talk you through the necessary steps for bringing an action against anyone that has taken advantage of you or a loved one so that you can get compensated for the harm you have suffered.

If you are expecting a new addition to your family, congratulations! This can be an exciting and exhilarating time with plenty of changes, but the changes do not stop at diapers. Secure your child’s future by updating your estate plans across the board. In addition to updating your beneficiaries, you will want to do the difficult work of establishing a guardian for your child. You may also want to consider establishing a trust to begin building wealth for your family and planning for their future alongside yours.

In any event, do not stress. In this exciting time, know that estate planning attorneys are there to help you make all the necessary plans for you, your children, and your family. An experienced attorney will leave no stone unturned in ensuring you have prepared for the care and financial wellness of your children, no matter your individual circumstances.

Updating Your Plans for Baby

The first step in preparing your financial future to include your child is addressing your will. Your will is crucial not only because it designates the heirs to your property and assets, which now will include more than just your partner and family, but also because it designates a guardian for your child in the unfortunate event that something happens to you and your partner.

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Like with music, pop culture, and politics, members of different generations tend to approach issues differently than others. Generations also approach retirement differently—both in how they are planning for retirement, along with their expectations about retiring. Some generations are more optimistic about retiring at an earlier age, while simultaneously changing their retirement strategy based on economic and technical changes—like incorporating cryptocurrency into their investments. With over 60 million people currently planning for retirement as active 401(k) participants, it is important to discuss these differing strategies, how people feel about retirement planning, and how estate planning attorneys can provide additional advice to make people feel more secure.

Expectations About Retirement Age

Studies have shown a difference in opinion on when individuals in each generation expect they will be able to retire. Younger generations, like Gen Z, expect to retire at an earlier age than other generations. For example, the median age that Gen Z believes they will stop working at is 57 years old; however, Generation X—individuals between the ages of 42 and 57—do not expect to retire until they are 64 years old.
Despite this information, only 57 percent of all Gen Z members believe they will retire at some point—indicating a significant difference in opinion among people in this generation—whereas 62 percent of millennials believe they will retire at some point.

Retirement Plans Differing by Generation

While most individuals in all generations are planning for retirement, they are doing so in different ways. For example, Generation X and baby boomers plan to rely upon Social Security benefits, 401(k) and pension plans to support themselves. While members of younger generations do not assume that Social Security and Medicare will be available for them by the time they expect to retire, as many officials predict that Social Security benefits will be depleted by 2030. Because of this, millennials and Gen Z plan to rely more on their 401(k) savings as their major source of retirement income. However, younger generations also plan on relying on financial technology within their investment portfolio, like cryptocurrency. Many members of this generation believe that cryptocurrency will give them the highest return on investment, despite its current lack of regulation and potential volatility.

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For many parents, it can be difficult to think about how their children will have to take care of them in their old age—and how they will have to pick up the pieces once they pass away. Because of this, many parents will avoid including their children in the estate planning process or, worse, not take any estate planning measures at all. While the initial goal may have been to avoid burdening their children, not creating an estate plan can have the opposite effect. Below are some tips and information that individuals should take now to prevent uncomfortable situations—often that their children will have to handle—in the future.

Create a Will

One of the most important estate planning steps is to create a will. Having a will in place dictates how a person’s assets are to be distributed. If a person does not have a will and they pass away, their assets will go to probate court where a judge will decide who will receive the items in the estate. This process can take months or years and is often difficult for loved ones to handle and manage during an already emotionally fraught time. Similarly, having a will in place reduces the stress that loved ones face of knowing whether the assets are going to the person the deceased would have wanted.

Implementing a Power of Attorney

Talking with loved ones about who will serve as a power of attorney can reduce future family infighting and worries when a loved one becomes ill or incapacitated. A healthcare proxy makes decisions on another person’s behalf when they become physically or mentally incapacitated and thus cannot make these choices for themselves. Many parents do not want their children to have to make these decisions; however, many children would rather be in charge of their parent’s medical decisions than see an uninterested party make them—or worse, have no one who is able to make these decisions at all.

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When people think about talking with their aging parents about the future, they are often stressed and nervous. How will the conversation go, how will their parents react, and what should they say? Because of this, children often put off this conversation, delaying it for as long as possible. However, delaying too long can be dangerous—as parents get older, it may be more difficult for them to make decisions about their future, which could lead to even more hurdles. Below are a few questions children should ask their aging parents about estate planning, and why there is such a need to do so as soon as possible.

Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents:

What Are Your Future Plans for Your Money?

When parents have a home that they would like to one day pass to their children, they may worry about the logistics of this process. It is safe to say that creating an estate plan is the best way to ensure children will one way receive the assets and property that the parents wish to give them. However, within estate planning, there are multiple ways to do this—whether including it in a will for the children to receive upon the individual’s passing or gifting the funds from selling the property. Below are various options on how to pass property onto children—along with the various legal and tax implications of each choice.

Giving a House to Heirs in a Will

The most common way that individuals will leave property to family, especially children, is to bequeath the assets in a will. In doing this, the parents would write in the will that the children are to be given the house after the death of the last parent. One benefit of including property, like a house, in the will is that children will be given the property on a stepped-up basis. This means the property’s value is adjusted to its fair market value and reduces the capital gains tax owed by the beneficiary. However, the beneficiary may still be liable for estate taxes, unlike if the property is gifted in a trust.

Gifting the Property to Children in a Trust

Some parents would rather be able to give their children more money, rather than property after they pass away. The best way to do this is to create a revocable trust rather than leaving the property to the children in the will. In this case, after the parents die, the property is sold, and the funds from the sale are given to the children. For example, the parents would create a revocable trust and name a trustee. Once the parents passed away, the trustee would then sell the property and then the funds from the sale would be given to the listed beneficiaries.

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When Texans think about passing on their assets to others, many wish to keep assets in their family through their i. While they may assume this will automatically occur—and there is no need to create a will or estate plan—this is not necessarily the case. Instead, there are specific actions that individuals should take to ensure their money and property are handed down to the people they actually want to receive it. Otherwise, a probate court judge will have the final decision in who is given the deceased’s assets. Below are some tips and options for Texans who wish to better control where their assets go and ensure they are utilized responsibly.

Drafting a Will

When most people first think about estate planning, they envision drafting a will. And this is one of the most essential and basic estate planning methods, as drafting a will allows individuals to dictate how their assets will be divided after they pass away. However, in Texas, if someone does not have a will in place when they die, their estate will be divided in probate court. There, a judge will decide how the assets are split up—generally, the individual’s closest kin will receive a majority of the assets regardless of the deceased’s feelings toward them. Because of this, it is important to draft a will so Texans can leave their money to their family—or others—according to their actual wishes.

Creating a Trust

Other individuals may hope to keep their assets in their family but worry about how the beneficiaries will utilize the funds. For people like this, it may be wise to create a trust. In setting up a trust, the individual appoints a trustee, who administers the funds according to the purposes specified in the document. Not only does this allow the individual creating the trust to develop terms, but the trustee will also then make sure heirs follow the stipulations if they want to receive the funds.

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With Thanksgiving and other holidays fast approaching, it is the time that families come together to celebrate and reflect on what they are grateful for. And while gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table, family members catch up, discuss hot-button topics, and sometimes have difficult conversations. Especially when aging loved ones attend these holiday functions, it is an important time to talk with them about the future, including their wants and needs as they relate to estate planning. Although these may be tough conversations to initiate, it is essential to plan ahead and avoid uncertainty and stress in the future. Below are some of the conversations people should consider having with their aging loved ones this holiday season.

1. Money and Living Situation

As people get older, it becomes harder to live alone and complete everyday tasks without the assistance of others. Because of this, individuals may want to talk with elderly loved ones about their long-term living situation preferences. Some people prefer moving to a long-term care facility, while others may prefer to stay with family—and either have a loved one take care of them or hire a home health aide to come into the house.

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