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?
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
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
This is the second in a series of blog posts from my friend Steve Hartnett, Director of Education for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. Here Steve talks about how the Secure Act, which became effective at the beginning of 2020, impacts the designation of trusts as the beneficiary of retirement accounts. We make these designations pretty commonly for our clients at Clarity Legal Group and the approach Steve describes here is the one we most common implement. In any event, … [Read more...] about Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act: Prior Designations
Anyone who has worked with Clarity Legal Group has heard us say that estate planning is just as much about how your organize what you own as what your legal documents say. Beneficiary designations can seem simple when they are not. But their simplicity is sort of like an iceberg. Danger lurks beneath those tranquil waters, both for the client and the attorney. We find ourselves more frequently crafting customized beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, in order to get the plan … [Read more...] about Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act Basics
Occasionally I work with an estate planning client who wants to disinherit an heir. They've heard there is a trick to doing this correctly -- and there is, but often not for the reason people expect. The truth is, in North Carolina, no one has a right to inherit anything from you -- with the exception of your spouse (and then presuming that you do not have a prenuptial agreement waiving the right to inherit). However, even natural heirs such as children who have no right to inherit, do … [Read more...] about Getting it right when Disinheriting an Heir
I wrote in my last post about using an asset protection trust to protect a specific beneficiary who might have need protection, for example from a substance abuse problem. Sometimes we implement multigenerational trusts not to protect against the problems of a specific trust but to provide a management or tax planning structures for family wealth. This is what is commonly called a “Dynasty Trust”. Such a trust is one that continues for the maximum term possible. There can be estate tax … [Read more...] about Asserting Control and Exercising Care over Multigenerational Wealth
I fairly often meet with someone who has done or attempted to do a do it yourself Will and wants me to tell them if it looks like they got it right. I think these people are really on to something. That is the question: did i get it right? Here are a couple of tips for thinking about this. If I do nothing other than read the DIY will you have drafted, I will have no idea whether you got it right. The limit of my insight will be whether I understand what it … [Read more...] about The Whole Point of doing a Will is to Get it Right and Know you Got it Right
I find that some of my clients feel it is important to share the details of their estate plan with loved ones; however, others prefer to keep those details private. Even those clients who decide to share the details with loved ones may not want those details to be available to people outside of their immediate family. The good news is that with careful estate planning, you can keep the details of your North Carolina estate plan private. When it comes to privacy, there are two major … [Read more...] about How Can I Keep My Estate Plan Private?
Estate Planning begins with defining your goals, understanding the steps necessary to establish a plan fulfilling those goals, and then putting that planning in place. These are the elements of "getting it right". But what about keeping it right? Once my clients have an estate plan in place, they frequently ask me how often they should review their existing plan. Updating your estate plan is almost as important as creating the plan in the first place. There really isn't a fixed … [Read more...] about Keeping Things Right in Your Estate Plan: How Life Changes may Prompt Plan Changes