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Orange County Estate Planning Blog

Why contested wills are more common among blended families

Attention is once again being placed on how nuclear and stepfamilies handle estate planning differently. A study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2015, shed light on the fact that in nuclear families, assets tend to be divided up among heirs equally. Research showed that as blended families have become more popular, assets have increasingly been split more unequally among children.

Data compiled by researchers working on the earlier study showed that inequitable treatment of their kids increased from 16 percent in 1995 to 35 percent in 2010. Researchers found that remarried stepparents were 30 percent more likely to inequitably will over of their assets than those who simply had just their own genetic children.

An incentive trust is an innovative strategy for your estate

You're well aware that you plan to leave significant assets to your heirs. We're not talking about a nice little windfall, maybe enough for a vacation. You're going to leave behind enough that your children could retire immediately. Perhaps even your grandchildren will get taken care of for life.

You're happy to do it. You've worked hard for your money and you love your family.

What will I have to do as an estate executor?

An executor for a will carries a great deal of responsibility. In fact, if an executor fails in his or her duties, the executor could face financial liabilities for negligence and other errors if the other beneficiaries of the estate choose to hold him or her accountable in court. As such, it's vital that -- if you've been named as an executor -- you handle your duties carefully and responsibly.

Here are some of the duties that an executor must fulfill:

  • Accounting for all of the deceased individual's assets and liabilities. This means every bank account, investment, real estate property, vehicle, business assets, art pieces and any other assets. It also includes credit card debts, auto loans, mortgages and other kinds of liabilities.
  • Determining if probate is necessary. Sometimes probate is not needed for a particular estate and family members can receive their inherited assets directly through a trust, or other arrangements.
  • Contacting potential heirs. This is an important part of the estate planning process to ensure that all heirs and potential heirs are accounted for and receive their fair part of the estate.
  • Filing the will in the right probate court. Depending on where the individual lived, it could affect where the will must be probated.
  • Finalizing all of the deceased person's affairs. This involves notifying appropriate parties like banks, financial institutions, social security and other parties that the decedent has passed away.
  • Creating a bank account. The estate will require a bank account through which various bills will be paid.
  • Paying all necessary bills on time. Any recurring bills and other costs must continue to be paid by the executor using the estate's account.
  • Paying off debts and final income taxes. This is an important part of the probate process and sometimes certain assets may need to be liquidated in order to pay off all remaining debts.
  • Distributing the estate assets to heirs. This is the much anticipated last step of the probate process in which the heirs and beneficiaries finally receive their share of the estate.

Glen Campbell's publicist to testify in will dispute case

Popular singer Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011. The public only became aware of his health struggles when his longtime publicist announced his diagnosis shortly before his death on Aug. 8, 2017, though.

Soon after he died, his widow, whom he'd apparently married sometime after his 2002 will was executed, filed what's believed to be his final 2006 will with Tennessee's probate court. It spanned 13 pages.

Make sure you handle a will correctly after a death

When a loved one dies, one of the first things you might do is make the person's final arrangements. While this is most certainly a priority, it isn't the only thing that you need to do. If the person has a will, that will must be filed with the court within 30 days of the death. This time limit is strict so make sure you comply with it.

A person who has control of another person's will is the one who is responsible for ensuring that the will is filed within the 30-day period. If it isn't filed in this time, there is a chance that the person could be held liable for damages caused by the delay in filing.

Why should you use a special needs trust?

If you have a child with disabilities who requires specialized care, then certainly the main reason you'd want to use a special needs trust is just to provide for that child after you pass away. By putting the money in a trust, you ensure that it is used properly even when you're no longer around to oversee the spending.

However, a trust serves one other critical function, as well. It ensures that the person does not lose his or her rights to government benefits. These could include food stamps, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

Can a trust help to solidify your estate plan?

Setting up your estate plan does not have to be complicated. It is true that you will have to do some work and think about how to set things up to get everything how you want it. One thing that makes people think that this is a difficult process is that there are so many different tools that you can use to ensure everything goes where you want it when you pass away.

The most basic estate plan includes only a will, but many others will also include trusts. A trust is a tool that enables you to transfer assets to another person without that person having to go through the probate process, in most cases. Trusts are an important part of an estate plan for just about everyone, including those who have a smaller estate and those who have a multi-million dollar one.

What is a Springing Power of Attorney?

You have two main options when creating a power of attorney: a Durable Power of Attorney and a Springing Power of Attorney.

The durable option is simple. It starts right away. The day that you sign and get the paperwork filed, the person you pick can manage your assets -- paying bills, accessing your bank account and the like.

Playboy founder included interesting condition in family trust

Hugh Hefner's death was something that some people saw coming. After all, he was an elderly gentleman who has lived a rather full life. What some people didn't expect was the manner in which he had his estate set up.

One component of Mr. Hefner's estate is that he set up trusts to provide for his heirs. These trusts don't come without any strings. There is a clause in the trusts that is rather interesting, considering the partying persona of life at the Playboy Mansion.

Several people are necessary in an estate plan

Creating an estate plan is something that is mystifying to many people, but it doesn't have to be. The important thing to remember is that your estate plan is a personalized endeavor that has to reflect your goals.

There are a few different people who are likely going to be involved in the estate plan. Here are a few to think about.

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