Approximately half of all Americans have no estate plan -- not even a will. Many people understandably don't want to contemplate their own demise. Others assume that their family will sort things out once they're gone. Some think that they don't have enough assets to make it worthwhile.
Being named as the executor of someone's estate, or the trustee of a trust, can seem like an overwhelming responsibility. In order to avoid being overwhelmed, it is important to understand your duties as executor or trustee. While below are some of the basics concerning your new duties, the advice of legal counsel while managing an estate or a trust can be very beneficial.
Too often, people who don't have children don't have a will or other estate planning documents in place. However, in many cases, these are the people who need them the most. Even if you don't have children, you likely would prefer that other family members, favorite charities or even close friends get all of your money rather than have the government take a big chunk out of it, which could happen if you die without a will.
The estate of a Pacific Palisades man who died last summer without a will is making news. However, it's not because family members are battling with each other over his money (some $250,000 in cash alone) or other assets.
Elderly people, particularly those who are physically and/or mentally compromised, can be vulnerable to many types of abuse, including financial abuse. Sadly, this type of abuse often is perpetrated by family members, caregivers and others close to the person. Sometimes it comes at the hands of strangers who know that elderly people are more likely to fall for scams or give up confidential information over the phone or online.
People often associate the word "conservatorship" with those who have been deemed incapable of handling their own money. In fact, a court may also agree to a conservatorship for people who are not able to properly care for themselves in other facets of their life, such as food, housing and medical treatment.
In a number of our posts, we have talked about inheriting property. Indeed, most of them have been in the context of celebrities leaving large sums of money and properties to their heirs, but that doesn’t mean that properties are not left to regular, everyday people. In fact, it is estimated that thousands of homes will be willed or left to children or loved ones in the next decade.
Anecdotes of heirs misusing or completely blowing their inheritance are sadly not that difficult to find, and the implications of these stories can be especially troubling for people in California who are considering what to leave behind. However, this does not always have to be the case. By creating a trust for an inheritance, individuals can be assured that a named trustee will ensure the proper handling of the assets.