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Executor & Trustee Guidelines

Executor & Trustee Guidelines

If you have been named executor of a will or trustee of a trust, these guidelines can help you understand what’s expected of you in the process.

The executor (sometimes referred to as executrix for females) is responsible for managing the affairs of and settling the estate, including initiating court procedures and filing the deceased’s final tax returns.
The trustee acts as the legal owner of trust assets, and is responsible for handling any of the assets held in trust, tax filings for the trust, and distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust. Both roles involve duties that are legally required. If you don’t feel you can carry them out effectively, you may be able to hire a professional to help carry out the duties or step down and allow someone else to assume the tasks.Each state has different rules and each situation is unique, so you should always consult with an attorney or tax advisor.

Executor guidelines

If you have been named executor of a will, these guidelines may help you understand what’s expected of you. You can also use them to determine if you would rather not serve as executor.If you determine you would rather not act as the executor, the will may name an alternative or an attorney can help you petition the courts to have another executor appointed if necessary.Generally, the executor of an estate may be expected to perform certain types of duties, including:

  • Represent the estate for legal purposes: Hire an estate attorney, petition the court, and attend court proceedings.
  • Manage the affairs and expenses of the estate, including paying debts and expenses and collecting receivables, planning for cash and liquidity needs, having assets appraised or revalued if necessary, and, in some states, filing a probate inventory.
  • Contact government institutions as needed, to obtain information such as an Employer Identification Number for the estate from the IRS.
  • Issue notifications, such as public notice of probate in newspapers and  statutory notice to beneficiaries to inform them of their interest in the estate.
  • Attend to tax-related tasks, such as filing tax returns and a closing letter with the state’s tax bureau.
  • Distribute assets to the beneficiaries.

Trustee guidelines

If you’ve been named to serve as trustee, these guidelines provide an overview of some of the duties you would generally be expected to perform.

You can also use these guidelines to determine if you don’t have the skill, will, or time to administer the trust properly. Acting as a trustee is complex and time-consuming and you may be personally liable for the actions you take in the role. Additionally, it may be a good idea to consider family relationships and whether you will be able to make objective decisions and take actions in the best interest of the trust and beneficiaries.

There are options available to you as a trustee: You may be able to bring in a corporate trustee, like Fidelity,* to assist you in carrying out your duties. Ask a professional to help you understand your options and decide how to best proceed.

If you determine that you would rather not be a trustee, review the successor trustee language in the trust document to determine if a successor is already named or what is required to appoint one.

Trustees have many responsibilities, which include at least:

  • Confirming key elements upon assuming the role of trustee: Ensure the assets are safe and under your control, that you understand the terms of the trust and who the beneficiaries are, and that all past account records are in order.
  • Investing the trust assets (if applicable) in such a way as to make sure the assets are preserved and productive for current and future beneficiaries.
  • Administering the trust according to its terms, including distributing trust assets to the beneficiaries, according to the trust agreement.
  • Making any decisions that arise according to the provisions of the trust; this may include discretion over when beneficiaries may or may not receive payments.
  • Preparing any records, statements, and tax returns as needed; also make any tax decisions relevant to the trust and keep all records on file.
  • Communicating regularly with beneficiaries, including issuing statements of accounts and tax reports.

Read more related articles at:

The Role and Responsibilities of a Trustee

Understanding the Duties of a Trustee in Administering a Trust

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

You’re An Executor…Now What?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.




estate taxes

Estate Tax Exemption Amount Goes Up for 2022

Estate Tax Exemption Amount Goes Up for 2022

As the estate tax exemption amount increases, fewer estates are subject to the federal tax.

The federal estate tax exemption is going up again for 2022. The amount is adjusted each year for inflation, so that’s not a surprise. But it’s still a big deal when the new exemption is announced each year because there’s a lot at stake for certain high-income Americans.

2022 Estate Tax Exemption

Generally, when you die, your estate is not subject to the federal estate tax if the value of your estate is less than the exemption amount. For people who pass away in 2022, the exemption amount will be $12.06 million (it’s $11.7 million for 2021). For a married couple, that comes to a combined exemption of $24.12 million.

Estate Tax Rate

As you might guess, only a small percentage of Americans die with an estate worth $11.7 million or more. But for estates that do, the federal tax bill is pretty steep. Most of the estate’s value is taxed at a 40% rate.

Rate Taxable Amount (Value of Estate Exceeding Exemption)
18% $0 to $10,000
20% $10,001 to $20,000
22% $20,001 to $40,000
24% $40,001 to $60,000
26% $60,001 to $80,000
28% $80,001 to $100,000
30% $100,001 to $150,000
32% $150,001 to $250,000
34% $250,001 to $500,000
37% $500,001 to $750,000
39% $750,001 to $1 million
40% Over $1 million

Historical Estate Tax Exemption Amounts

Since the federal estate tax was reformed in 1976, the estate tax exemption has only gone up (see table below). In most cases, the increase is modest, such as a simple adjustment for inflation. However, at times, the exemption amount has jumped considerably. For example, it shot up from $675,000 to $1 million in 2002, from $1 million to $5 million in 2011, and from $5.49 million to $11.18 million in 2018.

But that pattern is scheduled to change. The 2018 estate tax examption increase is only temporary, so the base exemption amount is set to drop back down to $5 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2026.

Period Exemption Amount
1977 (Quarters 1 and 2) $30,000
1977 (Quarters 3 and 4) $120,667
1978 $134,000
1979 $147,333
1980 $161,563
1981 $175,625
1982 $225,000
1983 $275,000
1984 $325,000
1985 $400,000
1986 $500,000
1987 through 1997 $600,000
1998 $625,000
1999 $650,000
2000 and 2001 $675,000
2002 through 2010 $1,000,000
2011 $5,000,000
2012 $5,120,000
2013 $5,250,000
2014 $5,340,000
2015 $5,430,000
2016 $5,450,000
2017 $5,490,000
2018 $11,180,000
2019 $11,400,000
2020 $11,580,000
2021 $11,700,000
2022 $12,060,000

State Estate Taxes

Just because your estate isn’t hit with the federal estate tax, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re completely off the hook. Your estate might be subject to a state estate tax. Twelve states and the District of Columbia impose their own estate tax, and the state exemption amounts are often much lower than the federal estate tax exemption. For instance, the exemption amount in Massachusetts and Oregon is only $1 million.

Plus, six states levy an inheritance tax, which is paid directly by your heirs. (Maryland has both an estate tax and an inheritance tax!) So, just because your estate isn’t worth millions of dollars, you children and grandchildren might end up with less in their pockets when you die than what you’re expecting.
Read more related articles at:

New Higher Estate And Gift Tax Limits For 2022: Couples Can Pass On $720,000 More Tax Free

The wealthy now have more time to avoid estate taxes, thanks to an IRS change

Also, read one of our previous Blogs, here:

What Exactly Is the Estate Tax?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



What Assets Should Be Included in Your Trust?

What Assets Should Be Included in Your Trust?

A revocable living trust is a great tool to help your assets pass smoothly to your beneficiaries, and it can significantly reduce the headaches of probate. However, while some assets belong in a trust, others cannot (or should not) go into one.

Probate can be a rather lengthy and costly process for your heirs. The procedure can extend from a couple of months for a simple estate, to a couple of years for a more complex estate. For most people, ensuring their property is preserved and passed on at the lowest possible cost is essential to a comprehensive estate plan.

Advantages of Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable living trust is an instrument created for the purpose of protecting your assets during your lifetime. It also creates an avenue to pass your assets with ease after your death. There are several benefits of creating a trust. The chief advantage is to avoid probate. Placing your important assets in a trust can offer you the peace of mind of knowing assets will be passed onto the beneficiary you designate, under the conditions you choose, and without first undergoing a drawn-out legal process. A trust can also provide you with some level of privacy as to the information shared about your estate. Another feature is that placing your assets in a trust will help protect them should you become incapacitated.

Can I Avoid Probate with a Trust?

It is important to note that there is no way to completely bypass probate. While your most important assets may be transferred as part of your trust, there are some assets that will not fund your trust for a variety of reasons. These other assets will still go through the probate process. Though setting up a trust can be costly and complex, it can make the inheritance process easier on your beneficiaries. To ensure your trust performs as it was intended, timely and proper funding is vital.

What Type of Assets Go into a Trust?

Many people assume that once they sign the trust documents at their attorney’s office, they are ready to roll. Setting up a trust, however, is only half of the solution. For a revocable living trust to take effect, it should be funded by transferring certain assets into the trust. Often people fund a living trust with real estate, financial accounts, life insurance, annuity certificates, personal property, business interests and other assets. The most notable types are outlined below:

Real Estate: Many people wonder whether it is a good idea to place their house in a trust. Considering that your home is potentially one of your largest assets, living trusts can be especially beneficial as they can transfer real estate quickly. Additionally, they help avoid the hassle of separate probate proceedings for land, commercial properties and homes that are owned out of state or held in different counties. Any property with a mortgage, however, would require retitling into the name of the trust, and some lenders may be reluctant to do this.
Financial Accounts: There are several types of financial assets that can be owned by a trust, including:
  • Bonds and stock certificates
  • Shareholders stock from closely held corporations
  • Non-retirement brokerage and mutual fund accounts
  • Money market accounts, cash, checking and savings accounts
  • Annuities
  • Certificates of deposit (CD)
  • Safe deposit boxes

Funding your trust with bank and brokerage accounts generally requires new account paperwork in the name of the trust as well as signed authorization to retitle or transfer the asset. Likewise, physical bond and stock certificates require a change of ownership to be completed with the stock transfer agent or bond issuer. You may also wish to fund the trust with a checking or saving account, though it is important to carefully consider any implications if these accounts require regular withdrawals or activity. Additionally, while you may fund the trust with an annuity, these instruments already enjoy a preferential tax treatment, and transferring them may forfeit this benefit. With existing certificates of deposit, they are usually transferred to a trust by opening a new CD. When doing so, it is a good idea to see if your issuer will waive any penalties. Finally, safe deposit boxes may be issued to the trust, or ownership may be transferred for an existing box.

Life Insurance: Many people ask if it is a good idea to put life insurance in a trust. The benefits include protecting it from creditors and making it easier for your loved ones to access the money by avoiding probate. Naming the living trust as a beneficiary of your life insurance may come with some risks. If you are the trustee of your revocable living trust, all assets in the trust are considered your property. In this instance, life insurance proceeds are counted as part of your estate’s worth and could create a taxable situation should you reach the IRS threshold for taxable estates. In 2022, that amount is $12.06 million for an individual and $24.12 million for couples. Funding a trust with life insurance and annuity contracts generally requires a change of ownership form submitted to the contract issuer.

Valuable Personal Property: Personal items, such as jewelry, art, collectibles and furniture, including pianos or other important pieces, may be placed in a trust. Personal property without any legal certificate or title is commonly listed on an accompanying schedule that is kept with your trust documents. Those assets with certificates or legal title often require the owner to quitclaim their ownership interest to the trust.

Collectible Vehicles: Some cars retain their cash value for long periods of time and therefore may be worth transferring to your revocable living trust. It is worth considering the title transfers and taxes that may be imposed, so it is important to speak to a trusted financial adviser or lawyer before transferring such assets.

Can You Put a Business in a Living Trust?

There are a number of advantages of transferring your business interest into a revocable living trust. Benefits generally include providing relief to your family from carrying the burden of your business debts, as well as the potential to reduce the tax burden on your estate. Below are the effects of several types of business ownerships:

Sole Proprietorships: Transferring a small business during the probate process can present a challenge and may require your executor to keep the business running for months under court supervision. Often sole proprietors hold business assets in their own name, so transferring them to a trust would offer some protection for the family. For a sole proprietor, transfers to a trust behave generally the same as transferring any other type of personal assets you own, including your business name.

Partnerships: With partnerships, you may transfer your share in the partnership to a living trust. If you hold an ownership certificate, you will, however, need to have it modified to show the trust as the shareowner rather than yourself. It is important to note that some partnership agreements may prohibit transferring assets to living trusts, so you will want to consult a financial adviser or attorney.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC): Depending upon your operating agreement, LLC business owners often need approval from the majority of owners before they can transfer the interests in the company to their living trust. Once transferred, the voting ability remains with you, but your ownership share will fall to the trust.

What Assets Cannot Be Placed in a Trust?

There are a variety of assets that you cannot or should not place in a living trust. These include:

Retirement Accounts: Accounts such as a 401(k), IRA, 403(b) and certain qualified annuities should not be transferred into your living trust. Doing so would require a withdrawal and likely trigger income tax. In this instance, it is possible to name the trust as the primary or secondary beneficiary of the account, which would ensure the funds transfer to the trust upon your death.

Active Financial Accounts: It is not advisable to transfer accounts you use to actively pay your monthly bills unless you are the trustee and granted full control of the trust assets. For many people, it is simply easier to keep these accounts out of the trust.

Vehicles: Generally, everyday vehicles like cars, boats, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes or even mules or snowmobiles are not placed in a trust because they often do not go through probate, and unlike collectible vehicles, they are not appreciable assets. Additionally, many states impose a tax when the vehicles are retitled, and some do not allow vehicle owners to name a beneficiary after death.

A Word About Irrevocable Trusts

While the assets placed in an irrevocable trust are no longer vulnerable to creditors or subject to an estate tax, you forfeit ownership of the assets. Careful consideration should be made when using an irrevocable trust, and it is highly advised that you first consult your financial adviser or attorney.

While creating a living trust may be costly and require a lot of legwork to fund, there are many benefits to using it as an instrument to protect your assets. The flexibility these trusts offer helps to ensure that your assets are protected during your lifetime and pass easily to heirs after your death.

Read more related articles here:

Which Assets Belong in a Trust?

Consumer Pamphlet: The Revocable Trust in Florida

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Distributing Inherited Assets in Many Accounts

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



Timeshare Inheritance: Why Inheriting That Beautiful Timeshare Can Bust Your Wallet

Timeshare Inheritance: Why Inheriting That Beautiful Timeshare Can Bust Your Wallet. While that timeshare interest may seem idyllic, it can also come with a hefty roster of fees and assessments, enough to turn what seems like a vacation opportunity into little more than a “suitcase full of bills.”

That last quotation comes from Red Week correspondent Jeff Weir, who used those words in a recent discussion with CNBC, as part of an online article that’s well worth your time.

Dubbed “Why Inheriting That Beautiful Timeshare Can Bust Your Wallet,” the piece is a thorough and even-handed look at the struggles that consumers face when navigating the timeshare industry – particularly when it comes to extricating oneself from an unwanted commitment to a timeshare interest.

Something of Value or More of a Hassle?

As the article points out, many families are put in this position when they are asked to inherit the timeshare interest of a loved one who has passed away – and who likely believed that they would be leaving their heirs something of value, since, as Weir puts it, they were pitched that they could “pass it on down like a suitcase full of money.”

In reality, timeshare ownership is typically an expensive proposition even under the best of circumstances, given the existence of assessments and annual maintenance fees, which tend to increase, year over year. What’s more, timeshare ownership is an obligation that comes with a unique set of frustrations, among them “the inability to book during prime weeks,” as CNBC puts it.

For these reasons and more, plenty of people who stand to inherit a timeshare see it as “more of a hassle than an asset,” as estate and tax attorney Michael Burns told CNBC.

The CNBC article also dives into the story of one such family, who found themselves burdened with a timeshare interest after the passing of a parent. According to CNBC, Deborah Howerton and her brother Carl were named as the beneficiaries for their parents’ Florida timeshare weeks.

The piece continues:

Now that their parents have passed away, Deborah and Carl are the new owners — and responsible for the $900 annual fee attached to each week.

“In no way do I want this, nor does my brother,” said Deborah. “It was great for my mom and dad, because they used it every year since they bought it, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They also had the luxury of time and flexibility to use it. We, however, do not.”

“It’s impossible to sell, and I’m afraid not paying the fees will ruin my credit,” she said.

Her fears aren’t hyperbolic. In fact, according to CNBC, Deborah received a delinquency notice from her resort’s property association “with an 18 percent interest rate tacked on” – and all for timeshare weeks that “likely have no value,” as Weir explained.

How to get out of the obligation.

So, what can timeshare owners do to extract themselves from an unwanted obligation, given the dearth of a viable resale market for timeshares and the prevalence of scammers preying on owners?

For some intriguing thoughts on these matters, we encourage you to read the rest of the CNBC piece, which dives into the ins and outs of several mechanisms for timeshare relief, including renting out an interest, turning to a third party exit company, and reaching out directly to your resort company. You can check out the full text, including Weir’s salient insights, here. Timeshare Inheritance: Whether getting out of the obligation or is important to you,  Inheriting That Beautiful Timeshare Can Bust Your Wallet.

Read more related articles here:

What Happens To Your Timeshare When You Die?

How to Transfer a Timeshare Deed


Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.


Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families – (Hint: It’s not a very Brady world.)

Estate Planning for Blended Families – (Hint: It’s not a very Brady world.)

Yes, I suppose they fit the broad definition of a blended family, but the story of the “lovely lady” and a “man named Brady” was, of course, simply that. A story. When I turn off the TV and look at today’s blended families, my first observation is how very unique and different they all are. (Or as one estate planner remarked to me: “If you’ve seen one blended family, you’ve seen one blended family.”)

Estate Planning for Blended Families is complex and it requires a watchful eye and a delicate touch. Clients in blended families should understand that there are important additional issues unique to them that must be addressed, like how to properly provide for their spouse without accidentally disinheriting their own kids. If there are minor kids, planning for their custody adds further complexity.These issues raise a number of questions around estate planning. Do your clients need a living will, a revocable living trust, an irrevocable trust, or charitable trusts? How do you decide and draft the plan they need. The options might seem overwhelming to clients, and understanding their needs is the first step to piecing this puzzle together.

Understandably, many couples will be inclined to procrastinate, uneager to revisit past relationships. But reaching a successful outcome to their estate planning demands that they plan with an eye toward the past as well as toward the future. An experienced estate planning attorney can help facilitate those potentially painful conversations.

Working from a retainer with signed informed consents and waivers of conflict is always good practice in estate planning matters, but it’s even more important with blended families.

Even with careful planning and thorough documentation, unexpected disagreements can arise. Through the planning process, the couple may find their objectives aren’t completely consistent. Sometimes those differences can be worked out, but if a conflict grows and the disagreement becomes irreconcilable, withdrawing from representation may be the necessary next step.

Best advice: Help couples in blended marriages identify their particular circumstances and the characteristics of their relationship that make them unique. Honor their differences but guide them toward those things they have in common.

Read more related articles at:

Remarried With Children? 5 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

How to Handle Money Effectively as a Blended Family

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Estate Planning for Blended Families and Second Marriages

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



How to Disinherit an Heir


Disinheritance: The Basics

Disinheriting an heir means preventing them from receiving a portion of your estate in the event of your death, whether it’s by naming them specifically in your will or by leaving them out completely. Forgoing mention of a relative or heir in your is one way to keep them from inheriting a portion of your estate. However, this can leave your will up for interpretation, as the intent of the testator, or the person creating the will, is an important factor in considering a will’s validity.

In short, disinheriting an heir in your will is a tricky situation and one that should not be taken lightly or attempted without professional help. Working with a professional can help ensure your will isn’t contested or up for debate in probate court. When engaging an attorney to draw up a will or trust that disinherits or excludes someone, consider hiring one who has experience with will contests. Lawyers with will contest experience are sometimes more able to craft a will or trust that is – as much as possible – contest proof than lawyers without such experience.

Who You Can (and Can’t) Disinherit

While you can disinherit some relatives, especially those who are distant or with whom you have no relationship, there are some relatives that may not be able to be disinherited, even in a legally binding last will and testament.

For example, in many states, you are not able to disinherit children or a spouse. Most states protect spouses from being disinherited, and in some states children are also legally entitled to some of your property, as well. However, you are able to disinherit parents, even if they outlive you.

Reasons for Disinheriting  There are many reasons you might choose to disinherit an heir in your will. You may not have a close relationship with them, they may not have supported you prior to your death or you may even believe they have enough financial resources to support themselves, thus making their potential inheritance better used elsewhere.

Parents may also choose to disinherit a child if that child has shown poor judgment or made bad financial choices in the past.

There are consequences of disinheriting an heir in your will. It can cause family drama, hurt feelings and other issues. Disinheriting an heir and including the reason why in your will could also leave your will up for debate or contest in probate court.

It’s also important that you update your will after major life events, such as marriage, divorce and the birth of a child. You don’t want to disinherit someone due to a simple oversight. This is called accidental inheritance.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a valid last will and testament, your estate will be subject to your state’s intestate laws. Remember, intestate means to die without a valid will, while dying testate means you have one in place upon your death.

Dying intestate, however, means that an heir you may not have otherwise bequeathed property to may be entitled to a portion of your estate. Of course, if they are entitled to your property and how much they may be entitled to depends on the state.

The Bottom Line

Disinheriting an heir means preventing them from receiving a portion of your estate when you die, whether it’s by naming them specifically in your will or by leaving them out completely. While you can usually disinherit any relative of your choosing, spouses and children may be protected from being completely disinherited, depending on your state. There are many reasons you might choose to disinherit someone, from not having a good relationship with that person to not approving of a child’s financial or life choices. If  at all possible, get professional help with this and other aspects of your estate planning.

Read more related articles at:

Four Ways to Disinherit Family Members

How To Disinherit A Family Member

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Can I Disinherit Someone ?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II’s wealth and will to stay secret after her death.

Queen Elizabeth II’s wealth and will to stay secret after her death

The wealth of Queen Elizabeth II, often referred to as one of the wealthiest women in the world, has remained secret and so will her last will after her death in Scotland

 London Last Updated at September 11, 2022 06:43 IST

The wealth of Queen Elizabeth II, often referred to as one of the wealthiest women in the world, has remained secret and so will her last will and testament specifying how her wealth will be distributed after her death in Scotland on Thursday.

The British monarchy as a brand was valued at around USD 88 billion in 2017 by valuation consultancy firm Brand Finance, with the Queen’s personal wealth from investments, art, jewels and real estate estimated by Forbes’ to be worth around USD 500 million.

Historically, the wills of the sovereign have remained private along with other members of the royal family.

The Sunday Times Rich List’ calculated the late Queen’s wealth at 340 million pounds in 2015, with the major source of a British sovereign’s personal money being the Duchy of Lancaster.

It is the sovereign’s private estate, existing purely to give the reigning monarch an income: in the financial year ending March 31 it was valued at about 652 million pounds and generated a net surplus of 24 million pounds.

According to The Times’, as it is an inalienable asset of the Crown, it would not even appear in the Queen’s will and simply passed from sovereign to sovereign, without any tax being paid.

The newspaper notes that no inheritance tax is liable on the Queen’s personal wealth due to a deal struck in 1993 with the then John Major-led government, in which the Queen agreed for the first time to pay income tax.

As part of that agreement, it was stipulated that sovereign-to-sovereign bequests would be exempt from inheritance tax.

The Treasury Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, written in 2013, states: The reasons for not taxing assets passing to the next sovereign are that private assets such as Sandringham and Balmoral have official as well as private use and that the monarchy as an institution needs sufficient private resources to enable it to continue to perform its traditional role in national life, and to have a degree of financial independence from the government of the day.

A court was told during a legal battle over the will of Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, that the primary reason and purpose of sealing royal wills is to protect the privacy of the sovereign.

Also, for technical legal reasons because the late monarch was the source of legal authority her will does not have to be published like .

However, many of the sources of her wealth the palaces, the Crown Jewels and the works of art do not fall in the category of her private property but are held in trust for future generations and will simply pass over to the King.

Earlier on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth II’s son and heir King Charles III reaffirmed the tradition of surrendering all royal revenues from the Crown Estate to the nation, in return for the Sovereign Grant that covers the costs for the UK’s royal family.

Read more related articles at:

Queen Elizabeth II just died. Here’s what will happen to her $500 million fortune

How Queen Elizabeth’s net worth, homes will be bequeathed to royal family

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

What Prince Philip’s Death Shows Us About The Importance Of End-Of-Life Planning

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.




pour over will

What is a Pour-Over Will?

What is a Pour-Over Will?

Living trusts can help you avoid probate, but can be tricky to fund, that’s why a pour-over will is a good safety device to protect intended beneficiaries. Find out more about pour-over wills, how they help you, and more.

I Have A Revocable Trust, I Thought That Is All I Need?

To avoid probate, you may opt to create a living trust to easily pass assets on to your heirs. These trusts are commonly known as inter vivos or revocable living trusts. The living trust creates a separate legal entity that allows the trust’s assets to be distributed outside the probate process. Because the living trust is a separate legal entity, the trust has its own assets, separate from your personal assets. In order to become trust assets, your personal assets need to be transferred into the trust via the trust document or retitling. Assets that do not get transferred stay personal assets.

Your Assets Vs. Trust Assets

Creating a living trust therefore creates two types of assets, the trust’s assets and your assets. This is a very important distinction for purposes of the pour-over will and probate avoidance. If you still have personal assets, they are subject to the pour-over will. There are three general ways that assets don’t end up in the trust:

(1) the assets are acquired personally after the trust is executed

(2) assets are excluded from the trust intentionally or by mistake; and/or

(3) assets are not retitled due to delay or timing of acquisition. For instance, if you do not retitle your car into the trust, it could be seen as part of your personal assets rather than a trust asset.

Do I Need A Pour-Over Will?

Short answer is “probably” as assets not transferred to the trust at the time of your passing become part of the your “estate.” Regardless of the trust’s existence, these assets still belong to the estate if not transferred to the trust. So, if you don’t create a pour-over will, those assets will be treated as if the person had died “intestate,” that is, without a will, so assets will pass to certain heirs by law. These heirs may differ from the trust beneficiaries, meaning that your assets could go to someone that you never intended.

Like mentioned above, the pour-over will is a safety device to ensure your assets flow to your intended beneficiaries.

Does The Pour-Over Will Need To Go Through Probate?

The short answer is “maybe.” The pour-over will deals with personal, not trust assets. Depending on your state’s probate laws, your estate—meaning the assets not transferred to the trust—maybe subject to probate. For instance, many states require probate for estates that have over a certain dollar amount in assets or any real estate. Many states also have small estate carve outs so estates under a certain value do not need to go through probate.

What Should Be Included In A Pour-Over Will?

The pour-over will form should be consistent with the trust and may name the trust as a beneficiary. Ensure that naming the trust as the beneficiary has no negative tax implications by discussing your specific situation with a certified public accountant.

Also, know that the pour-over will only deals with personal, not trust assets. That means that when bequeathing certain assets in a pour-over will, they must not be the trust’s assets as it can create confusion from what is a personal asset and what is a trust asset. In the most simple circumstances, the pour-over will names the trust as remainder beneficiary and/or the trust’s beneficiaries as remainder beneficiaries in the same percentages as detailed in the trust.

Read more related articles here:

How to Use a Pour-Over Will in Estate Planning

Consumer Pamphlet: The Revocable Trust in Florida

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Last Will and Testament vs. a Trust: What’s the Difference?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.


Anne Heche

Anne Heche died without a will, son files to control estate

Anne Heche died without a will, son files to control estate

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor Anne Heche died without a will, and her 20-year-old son has filed court papers to control her estate.

Homer Laffoon, Heche’s son with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon, filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday requesting that he be allowed to administer his mother’s estate.

The petition lists Homer Laffoon and 13-year-old Atlas Tupper, Heche’s son with former partner James Tupper, as her only heirs.

The document says the value of Heche’s estate is unknown. That is often the case on such initial filings, before anyone has the legal authority to assess the dead person’s assets.

Homer Laffoon also filed a petition asking that someone be appointed to represent his brother’s interests in court.

A representative of Heche declined comment on the filing.

On Aug. 5, a car Heche was driving jumped a curb, smashed into a Los Angeles home and burst into flames. She was declared brain dead on Aug. 11, and was kept alive on life support for three more days so her organs could be donated.

Heche, 53, was among the biggest film stars of the late 1990s, starring opposite actors including Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford, and had worked consistently in movies and television for more than three decades.

She was married to Coleman Laffoon, a television camera operator, from 2001 to 2009, and was in a relationship with James Tupper, an actor, from 2007 to 2018. She had a son with each.

Read more related articles at:

Anne Heche died without a will and her 20-year-old son has filed papers to control the estate

Anne Heche Died With No Will. What’s Going On With Her Estate

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

What Does Entertainer Chadwick Boseman’s Estate Look Like?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

make a will

August is national make-a-will month

August is national make-a-will month

August marks national make-a-will month, an annual reminder of the importance of drafting or updating your will to ensure your final wishes are executed as you intend. 

Despite the importance of having a will, nearly two-thirds of American adults don’t take the time to create one, citing busy schedules, lack of wealth or assets to distribute, or dislike of the idea of thinking about one’s mortality. However, all adults – particularly those with children – should have a will. Why?

  • It’s necessary. No matter what your “estate” includes, everyone needs a plan. Having a legal will in place is a powerful way to steward your resources and protect yourself and your loved ones.
  • It’s your legacy. Your will is your opportunity to define your legacy on your own terms and create a lasting impact through the causes that are important to you.
  • Wills aren’t just for the rich and famous. They make life (and death) easier for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
  • If you die without a valid will, you risk having very personal questions settled by a third party administrator, usually appointed by a probate court.

Luckily, getting your affairs in order does not need to be a lengthy or costly task. Here are a few tips from the National Foundation for Cancer Research on how to get started:

  • Make a list of all of your assets, including investments, properties, bank accounts and personal property such as art, jewelry and other valuables.
  • Review all of your beneficiary designations of your life insurance, investment and retirement accounts. For example, you still may have an ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary—if you do not change it, they may inherit these funds. If you own an account with a beneficiary and pass away, the funds go directly to the beneficiary, regardless of what any other document, such as a will or trust, may say.
  • If you already have a will in place, be sure to review it every couple of years, updating it with any new assets, and making any necessary change to your wishes.
  • At the same time you review your plans, also review the executors that you put in place to execute it, making sure that you still trust the designee and that they are still willing to complete the task.
  • Lastly, consider whether or not you would like to include a charitable organization in your final plans like your will and/or as beneficiary of your accounts. When designating a charity as a beneficiary, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. You can always decide to leave any percentage you please to a charity or even to multiple charities.

Read more related articles here:

August Is National “Make a Will” Month

August is National Make a Will Month

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it. You need to keep them updated.

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

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