Many of my clients wish to make lifetime or testamentary gifts to minors as part of their estate planning. One tool to know about when transferring assets to minors is the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA). This is probably the easiest, abut least favored approach to transferring funds to minors. Almost every year I speak with someone who set up an UTMA account without our assistance and now wishes they had not. Nevertheless, it has its place. The History of the UTMA The Uniform … [Read more...] about What Is the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act?
At Clarity Legal Group, our clients often choose to incorporate one or more trusts into their estate plan. Although each trust agreement is uniquely tailored to the needs of the Settlor (the trust creator), one thing all trusts have in common is the need to appoint a Trustee to oversee the administration of the trust. This makes the role of Trustee one of the central responsibilities in the planning. Most of my clients use family members or close friends to serve in the various fiduciary … [Read more...] about Should I Appoint a Family Member or Professional to Undertake the Responsibilities of Trustee?
The loss of a spouse is one of the most emotional experiences you might go through. Most people naturally understand there is the "business" of dealing with their spouse's estate, but thinking about updating their own estate plan is often not on their agenda. It turns out that their are changes you need to make, and from a standpoint of time, attention and cost, it makes sense to update your plan in concert with working on the administration of your deceased spouse's estate. Overlooking you … [Read more...] about What Estate Plan Changes Do I Need to Make Following the Loss of My Spouse?
Clients often ask me what estate planning documents they will need beyond a Last Will and Testament. While no two plans are the same, I frequently suggest adding a revocable living trust to a comprehensive estate plan. Understanding how a trust might fit into your planning should help you get the planning puzzle right. 5 Reasons to Create a Revocable Living Trust To help your estate avoid probate. Probate is the legal process that is required for the administration of the assets controlled by … [Read more...] about How implementing a Living Trust helps you get planning right.
I find that for many of my clients, life insurance sometimes plays an integral role within their estate plan. Exactly which role a life insurance policy will play, however, depends on a variety of factors. In order to know how life insurance fits into your estate plan, you need to understand the various types of life insurance as well as gain a better understanding of how to determine the amount that you need. Ultimately, life insurance should always be targeted. Ask yourself -- what is my … [Read more...] about Understanding Your Life Insurance Options
Thirty years ago, I could never have imagined that I would find myself advising so many people about planning for their long term care or serving in the role of caregiver for a family member or friend. Yet, as Clarity Legal Group® has developed, caregiving has become one of the major lenses through which we offer advice. Last year we introduced a book offering guidance to caregivers in North Carolina and also created a tool kit of sorts on our web site for this purpose. As I was planning … [Read more...] about The Ultimate Caregiver Guide
I've got a pretty short and simple post today on a basic question I think people don't think enough about. People tend to focus on the division of their estate, but make assumptions about who will administer their estate after they are gone. Deciding who to appoint as your Executor in your Last Will and Testament, or serve as Successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust, is probably more important than you realize. Executor and Trustee Duties and Responsibilities In general, the Executor of … [Read more...] about How to Pick the Best Person to Administer Your Estate
When people find out that I am estate planning attorney I sometimes get the reaction that I am a tax attorney. Tax planning is an important part of estate planning, and it has implications in multiple places in the planning world, but it is not the core of estate planning. I tell people that estate planning is planning for when somebody else decides. When you are no longer in charge of your affairs you will want to be in charge of who does manage them. You will want them to have the … [Read more...] about Getting Estate Planning Right: Who Decides If I Am “Incapacitated?”
I imagine most people agree with me that the last place they want to find themselves is resident at a skilled nursing facility. When someone gets to the point that they need this level of care, their perspective sometimes changes, as they are faced with the reality that their continued care at home is a burden for their family, practically, financially and emotionally. That's not the way anyone in the family wants it to be. Still, sometimes, the nursing home is the right answer. At … [Read more...] about How to Protect your Loved Ones Needing Care: Questions to Ask When Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility
This post is part of our continuing series on beneficiary designations for retirement accounts after the Secure Act. As you may know, the Secure Act largely did away with the stretch distributions for most beneficiaries substituting instead a ten-year payout. There are exceptions to this and this can fundamentally change the choices we recommend for our clients. In this blog post, my friend Steve Hartnett, the Director of Education for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, … [Read more...] about Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act: Eligible Designated Beneficiaries