Estate planning for a couple who are parents of the same children is often simple and straight-forward. When a couple has stepchildren, the planning for this blended family requires more thought. The plan needs to be documented. Creating wills is critical. Just as important is establishing beneficiary designations for assets not covered by the wills. But these steps alone may not be enough to assure that one party does not make unilateral changes to the joint plan in the future. Important estate planning tools for this family situation also include a written estate plannin agreement between the spouses and maybe a trust.
Estate Planning & Estate Administration Articles
Estate planning does not necessarily need to be complicated. The vast majority of people can have an effective estate plan without creating complex documents. But everyone does need to understand the legal interplay between a will, jointly owned assets and assets governed by designated beneficiary provisions outside the will.
A trustee should seek legal advice before taking on his duties so he knows how to legally and properly establish the trust accounts. The trustee needs to be sure the attorney is knowledgeable in estate and trust laws. A trustee should seek sound legal and financial advice at the beginning and annually to comply with the Uniform Trust Code or risk personal liability.
Procrastination and Denial are two bad characters. Like unwanted house guests, they arrive uninvited and stay too long. Procrastination, ProCrasty for short, believes you should never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. He thrives on waiting to the last minute to make decisions and take action. Denial, nicknamed Deni, is his perfect companion. She reassures ProCrasty that if he just waits long enough, things will change and maybe no decision or action on his part will be necessary. Things will just take care of themselves. Deni likes to avoid making decisions or acting at all by convincing herself that issues will go away if simply ignored long enough.
The need to probate the will of a spouse who dies depends upon how assets were owned at his or her death, the value of those assets, and any debts of the deceased spouse.
A well thought-out estate plan will give you peace of mind. A thoughtful plan will spare your family and loved ones unnecessary stress, confusion and other unpleasant experiences and help avoid arguments between family members. Your plan sends a message about how much you cared for people, your favorite charity or both. A plan is part of the legacy you leave.
Important Questions You Should Ask Before being Appointed as an Executor or Administrator of a Decedent's Estate
It is not recommended that a person petition the Register of Wills for appointment as an executor or administrator of an estate without understanding his or her potential obligations.
When a person dies without leaving a will, this is referred to as dying intestate. The Register of Wills determines who will be appointed as the administrator of an intestate estate. The right to administer the estate is based upon the size of inheritance and relationship to the decedent.
Digital assets such as online financial accounts include bank, investment, credit card and contracts that renew automatically like online subscriptions. This would include any creditors who email their bills to you or automatically debit/charge you for services. If you die your executor will need access to these accounts. During your lifetime, if you can no longer manage your affairs, someone else will need to manage these accounts. Learn how to plan for that by reading this.