When you're creating your estate plan, you'll need to determine what details you want to share with family members and what to keep to yourself. Of course, there are some things you'll need to discuss with at least one or more family members. For example, you need to get someone's agreement before making them your executor or trustee or giving them power of attorney or other fiduciary responsibility.
Among the most important decisions you'll make as you create your estate plan is naming the trustees and successor trustees of your trusts. A dishonest trustee can take all of your hard-earned assets and keep them from the loved ones and beneficiaries you intended to leave them to.
A comprehensive estate plan is often comprised of a number of documents. It's crucial that they don't contradict one another. This can cause confusion, delays and expense when it comes time for your executor(s) to settle your estate. Therefore, if you make changes to one document, your estate planning attorney can advise you if similar changes need to be made to other documents to ensure continued consistency.
Your last living parent or perhaps another elderly relative whose estate you were chosen to administer has passed away. They never got around to downsizing and decluttering -- something we talked about recently. They've got a home filled with items that go back many decades. Some may have considerable monetary value, while others may only have sentimental value -- and maybe not even that.
Many Californians resist putting an estate plan in place. Even when people get older and their health starts to deteriorate, they may feel like planning for their death is tempting fate.
If you're planning to give marriage a second (or maybe third) try in the new year, you likely have more assets and people to protect that you did when you married the first time. A prenuptial agreement can help you and your partner protect the assets you bring into the marriage and ensure that the financial well-being of any children you have from previous relationships is protected.
You're drafting a detailed, well-thought-out estate plan with your attorney. You're stipulating your wishes for your assets clearly so that your administrators can carry out your wishes. You've also got powers of attorney designated to handle your finances and oversee your health care if you become seriously injured or disabled and can't speak for yourself.
As we approach the holidays, many Americans are committing to finally discussing their estate plans with their family members. This may be the only time of the year when everyone is together in one place. Whether you have most of your decisions made or need input from your family before beginning to draft the plan with your attorney, some discussion is always best. This can help prevent conflict, confusion and surprises after you're gone.
A thorough estate plan shouldn't just reflect your wishes for what happens after you die. It should also include directions to those caring for you if you become so ill or incapacitated that you can't speak for yourself.
As Americans live longer and have to stretch their retirement savings farther, many people die owing more money than they have. Increasingly, older Americans are in debt -- sometimes substantial debt. Almost a quarter of people over 75 are still making mortgage payments. When people who have more debt than assets die, their adult children are forced to deal with their parents' debt as they manage their estate.