Articles Tagged with Probate

When someone is crafting their will or creating a Houston estate plan, there are many critical decisions they must make. One of the most vital choices is who to serve as the estate’s executor. An executor of an estate is a person appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person, also called a testator. An executor has many tasks they must fulfill, both during the life of the testator, and after they have passed. Although there are many duties an executor must fulfill, it can often be a rewarding position.

What Are an Executor’s Duties?

An executor is responsible for ensuring the deceased’s assets are accounted for, as well as transferring the assets to the people listed in the will. Assets can include cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, or even personal collectibles. Before disbursing the inheritances to the estate’s heirs, the executor must also estimate the value of the estate and pay of all of the debts of the deceased, if they had any. An executor, before the death of the testator, should make sure the testator is keeping a list of assets and debts, properties, and any other relevant information. Overall, the primary duty of an executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased based on the instructions in their will and estate plan.

3.25.19Life insurance is the bedrock of many people’s financial plan. There are more nuances to life insurance, than just buying a policy and paying premiums.

It’s not the most fascinating topic, unless you’re in the business, but understanding the basics about life insurance can have big implications for you and your family, according to a recent article, “4 questions to ask to maximize your life insurance benefits” from WTOP. Here’s what you need to know about life insurance:

Changed Circumstances. The amount of life insurance you need, is unique to each person’s financial and family circumstances. Remember that life insurance death benefits are used for more than just replacing immediate income from the family breadwinners. They can also pay off the mortgage and other debts, cover college tuition, create a retirement nest egg for a surviving spouse, fund a business transfer, or be an important estate planning tool. With life insurance, you can protect your family against a premature death with a solid safety net. In the event of divorce with future child and spousal support obligations due to you, you’d want your divorce settlement agreement to say that your ex-spouse, as payor, maintains a sufficient life insurance policy naming you, as the recipient-beneficiary, to cover all future commitments. You also need to be notified by the insurance company of any policy changes or lapses because you may be depending on this money in the future, should something happen to your ex-spouse. Stay-at-home spouses and caregivers also need life insurance, because replacing their duties could incur many unexpected costs for the survivor.

3.18.19You’ve heard the expression “trust fund babies.” However, trusts are not just for the wealthy. They have a number of uses in estate planning and can be helpful at any asset level.

The reality of our own mortality keeps some of us up at night. For others, it’s a disturbing thought that is easily brushed aside. Whichever group you belong to, you need to have an estate plan in place. This is the only way that you can have any say in how your assets are distributed after you pass. Without an estate plan, your family will be subjected to much more stress and financial strain. One part of an estate plan is a trust.

Barron’s recent article, “Why a Trust Is a Great Estate-Planning Tool — Even if You’re Not Rich,” explains that there are many types of trusts, but the most frequently used for these purposes is a revocable living trust. This trust allows you—the grantor—to specify exactly how your estate will be distributed to your beneficiaries when you die, and at the same time avoiding probate and stress for your loved ones.

8.8.16Passing your home to your heirs can occur in a number of ways, depending upon your situation and your family. It’s not a do-it-yourself project—even in the simplest cases.

If you own a home and want to leave it to your loved ones, there are steps you need to take to ensure that your wishes are achieved. According to Fox News, “You're Going to Die—Here Are the Best Ways to Deal with Your Home,”, inheriting a collection of 80s Transformers action figures won’t have a big impact on your heirs, but a sizable asset like a house will.

Here are a few ways to help prepare now.

7.11.16Estate battles among high profile celebrities are all over the news, but can a regular person contest a will if they feel that they were unjustly treated?

You may have seen a million movies where kids are cut out of a will, but when it happens to you or someone you love, the intensity of feeling hurt or rejected may come as a surprise. If your parent or family member did not discuss his or her intentions with you while he or she was alive, getting rejected from the beyond might come as a surprise. An article from, “How to Successfully Contest a Will,” examines what can be done to fight back.

Contesting the will as a spouse: the right of election. If your spouse left you out of his or her will, you would be entitled to the right of election in most states. This means that you can reject the will and get a certain dollar amount or percentage of the estate pursuant to state probate law.

6.27.16If you are old enough to drive, work a job and have a bank account, you need to have an estate plan. It’s part of being a responsible adult.

Leaving adolescence behind means a life that includes responsibility for yourself and for those you love. That has traditionally included basics like a paycheck, a bank account and life insurance. But today, we also include an estate plan, which The Huffington Post says in “Why Estate Planning Makes Sense at Any Age” is just as important when you are 20 as it is when you are 64.

It should be noted that an estate plan is essential no matter what your financial situation or age.

5.23.16Privacy and a faster resolution to settling estates are just two good reasons to create an estate plan.

You really don't have to be a millionaire or famous to create an estate plan, as noted in an article appearing on the Forbes' website, "Prince and Estate Planning: What We Can Learn from the Late Musician's Financial Picture." All you have to do is make sure that you have six basic estate planning documents in place to protect your loved ones from additional stress and worry when you pass away.

Here are the six key documents you should have to protect your assets and your family in the event of your passing:

5.20.16Despite countless celebrity estate battles, most Americans still put off having a will created. Think of a will as an itinerary for your family that will make their lives easier once you are gone.

Prince was clearly busy with performing, writing, recording and creating. But that's still not a good reason for him to not have put a will in place. The very public court processes that are now underway could have been completely avoided had he devoted the time to creating an estate plan.

The Huffington Post, in its May 3 article, "Like Prince, A Majority Of Americans Don't Have A Will," stressed that wills are important as they establish beneficiaries, distinguish who gets what (and how much of it), and prevent the state from deciding what happens to your property.

5.19.16One Chief Justice's seemingly simplistic will was the target of a lot of humor. Tongues wagged in Washington that he had utterly failed to do any estate planning. The gossips had it all wrong.

It may be surprising to outsiders, but Washington D.C. actually functions in many ways as a small town. When Chief Justice Warren Burger died in 1995 and it was revealed that he had a one-page will that he typed himself, the community was amused and the jokes flew.

But the Chief had the last laugh. His lawyer responded that Burger's will, when given effect along with the terms of his previously deceased wife's will, created maximum tax savings.

5.10.2016Once again, the value of image and other intangibles will overshadow any other issue with a celebrity estate that is expected to break earnings records.

The countdown on the estate tax liability for Prince's fortune has already begun, but arriving at the final number will not be easy and certainly will not be resolved without significant legal action.

For those involved with Prince's estate, calculating just how big Uncle Sam's bite may be a real challenge. Some say it's next to impossible and might also fuel a lengthy feud between the government and the estate, as more than half the estate's value could be forfeited in taxes.

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