Articles Posted in Wills

Many people realize that life insurance can play a valuable role if someone unexpectedly passes away. What a much smaller group of people is that life insurance can play a critical role in estate planning because it can be utilized to provide liquidity when needed. 

With adequate estate planning, insurance proceeds can then be used to pay for things like estate tax. In the hopes that you make the most of life insurance in your estate plan, this article reviews some critical details to remember about utilizing life insurance.

# 1 – Avoid Common Mistakes

Business owners led hectic lives. Understandably, some things on business owner’s “To Do” lists end up getting delayed. Estate planning, however, should not be something that ends up postponed. Not only is estate planning critical for business owners, but some unique issues arise. This article reviews just some of the unique and nuanced issues that business owners often must navigate while estate planning.

# 1 – Unintentional PPP Borrower Change of Ownership

To respond to the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act was signed into law in March 2020. As part of the implementation, the Small Business Administration as well as the Department of Treasury implemented the PPP Program so lenders could loan money to both small and medium-sized businesses to maintain their payroll as well as hire workers who were laid off and cover applicable overhead. These loans are forgiven provided the proceeds are used in accordance with applicable laws.

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed an increased focus on legacy planning because it has highlighted the need to make sure that your estate plan is in order. Besides the fact that more people are realizing the value of adequate estate planning, other advantages like all-time high estate tax exemptions make this an attractive time to engage in estate planning, whether that means creating your plans or finalizing estate planning documents. This article reviews some helpful strategies you should follow to make the most of estate planning.

# 1 – Determine Your Net Worth

The best step to start estate planning is to assess your net worth. Fortunately, it’s often easy to quickly calculate your net worth by adding up the estimate of the value of all of your assets and then subtracting the total of your liabilities. The value of calculating your net worth is that after you’ve determined this value, you will need to assess if your estate will be liable for federal estate taxes. You should also determine if your estate could potentially be subject to inheritance tax.

The pandemic has created substantial challenges for many people and disrupted countless facets of daily living. Low-interest rates and depressed asset values, however, have created an ideal situation for estate planning. If you’re interested in planning for the future, there are some unique estate planning strategies that you should consider utilizing. This article reviews just a few of the most potentially helpful techniques that you should consider using during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

# 1 – Annual Gift Tax Exclusions

This amount refers to the amount that a person can give away each year without being subject to taxes. Currently, a person can pass $15,000 in assets tax-free to any person in any one year. This amount applies to how much can be given to one individual, which means that a person could make an unlimited number of gifts below this amount to various people without being subject to taxation.

In the 2020 case, In the Estate of Mayberry, a Texas court ruled that the common-law wife of a deceased individual who died interstate lacked standing to remove the deceased’s daughter as an independent administrator. 

The court’s ruling was based on the perspective that the deceased’s daughter was not an “interested” party following a settlement agreement between the daughter and the deceased’s common-law wife to voluntarily release all of the daughter’s rights in the estate.

Under the terms of the agreement, the daughter agreed to accept $2,000 as “consideration” for the settlement and release of all claims to any part of the deceased individual’s estate. The daughter later argued that she did not release her right to receive an inheritance from the estate but had only released “claims” against the estate. The daughter argued that her right to receive an inheritance from the estate was not a claim against the estate. 

Countless families have members who are black sheep. These individuals can end up influencing how the family passes on assets. Regardless of the situation, it is critical to evaluate and reflect on your beneficiary’s situation when it comes to estate planning. As a result, this article reviews some critical issues to consider about estate planning if you have a black sheep in your family.

# 1 – You Need Not Divide Your Assets Equally

Disinheriting a beneficiary is a more routine occurrence than many people think. There are various reasons why you might decide to disinherit a beneficiary that has little to nothing to do with that beneficiary’s lifestyle. Parents might decide to leave more assets to a special ended child. Other times, parents might have helped a house with something while the parent was alive and wants now to make sure that an equal amount of assets are passed to each child. Regardless of your reasons for disinheriting a beneficiary, it is a good idea to explain either in your estate documents in a separate document your intention for unequally dividing  assets.

While trusts grow in their popularity and usage, some people still encounter difficulties in creating a trust. One problem that some clients face is banks and financial institutions who create challenges in funding a trust. 

While this problem is not all that common, it is still helpful to understand why these challenges can arise. This article also reviews some of the benefits that people commonly realize through the creation of a trust.

Common Challenges involved with Trust Funding

In the United States, married individuals almost always receive assets from their spouses without paying estate tax. One exception is the often-overlooked law involving marriage between a citizen of the United States and a foreign national. If you find yourself in this situation, it can create a unique challenge during estate planning.

The Foreign National Exception

Under federal law, if an American citizen is married to a foreign national and the first to die in the couple, the surviving foreign national is prohibited from using the standard marital deduction to inherit property. If the couple lives in the United States, the entire asset is subject to this regulation. If the couple lives overseas, however, only US-based assets are impacted by this law. 

Trust protectors are becoming an increasingly common part of estate plans in New York as well as the rest of the country. A trust protector refers to someone who is appointed to look over a trust and make sure that the trust is not adversely affected by changes in the law. 

Appointing a trust protector is not a decision that benefits everyone. As a result, this article reviews some of the biggest advantages that people realize throughout appointing a trust protector.

# 1 – Make Changes to a Trust without Formal Amendments

The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently decided that a man convicted of DUI manslaughter that led to the death of his wife can collect survivor benefits from the state. The late woman had designated her husband as a 40% beneficiary while the deceased woman’s sister was a 60% beneficiary. While Mississippi law permits spouses in the husband’s situation to still receive benefits, some states have prevented this type of result by altering statutory language. The husband previously pleaded and was sentenced to 25 years in prison with 10 years suspended and 15 to serve. The man later received a separate two-year sentence for possession of contraband. 

While the Mississippi Court’s decision might seem strange, it emphasizes the importance of understanding the basics about the New York Survivor’s Benefit Program, which will be briefly reviewed in this article.

The Role of the New York Survivor’s Benefits Program

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