Trusts in the Law

A trust is an arrangement where the creator of the trust establishes a relationship with a third-party, or trustee, to manage assets or property for the benefit of another, called a beneficiary. Trusts are commonly established to pass an inheritance from parent to child, where the child is minor, financially immature, or has an intellectual disability.

The trustee is a fiduciary to the beneficiary, meaning that he or she must make decisions that are in the best interest of the beneficiary. The trustee may be compensated for performing this duty, however, the trustee is prohibited from certain actions that result in self-dealing. Self-dealing is a transaction executed by the trustee for his or her benefit, rather than for the benefit of the beneficiary; it violates the fiduciary duty of loyalty, or the duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.

Unfortunately, too often neither the creator nor the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) monitor the actions of the trustee, which results in the depletion of the trust. Often beneficiaries remain unaware of the self-dealing until they have little to no assets remaining for their care.

Once the self-dealing is discovered, both civil and criminal actions may be appropriate. Because trust law involves a long history of complicated case-law, the impacted beneficiary or his or her guardian should consult an experienced attorney in the area of trust law litigation.

If you have reason to believe that self-dealing has impacted the trust assets managed for the benefit of you or someone you know and need experienced counsel, please contact us for a consultation.

Beginning Of The Year Estate Planning: Does Your Estate Plan Reflect Your Life’s Circumstances?

The year is over, and this is a perfect time to take out your estate planning documents and review them. It is especially important to review your estate planning documents if any major changes have occurred this year. Did you get married this year? Did you get a divorce? Did you have a child or grandchild?

Is Your Estate Plan Updated?

Your estate planning document is not just something you fill out one time and forget about it. Your estate plan needs to accurately reflect your family’s needs and circumstances. If your estate plan has not been updated in years, it could be a disaster for your family. An outdated estate plan could be much worse than you not having an estate plan at all.

Sometimes people forget to update their estate planning documents to reflect what is going on at that time. If your estate planning documents are no longer accurate and you forget to update the documents, your final wishes will not be reflected in your estate planning documents.

Is Your Family Aware of Your Assets?

When family members are not aware of assets and properties that have been left to them, a large percentage of the estate will go away because no one ever claimed those assets or properties. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to make sure you leave your loved ones a list of things that you own. Not only should you leave a list of your assets and properties, you should also inform your loved ones of where those assets are located.

If you need to discuss your estate plan with an experienced attorney, contact us today.

What Should You Do Before Sending A Will To Probate?

Before anyone can take a will to probate, there are many things that have to be done. One of the most important things you will need to do is find out who the beneficiary is in the will.

You should also find out what type of properties and assets the person owned and if the loved one left any debts. Once you find all the properties and assets your loved one own, you should make a list of everything.

For all the properties and assets your loved one own, you should list the following information:

  • Who is the legal owner of the property?
  • Did your loved one own all the property or only part of it?
  • How much is your loved one’s property worth? How much will someone be willing to pay for the property today?

If your loved one left unpaid bills and other debts, you should make a list of all the debts your loved one owed. Many people leave behind a large number of bills including credit card bills, student loans, medical bills, etc. If you are able to find the unpaid accounts, you should try to make a full list of everything.

If there are multiple people listed as beneficiaries in the will and the properties, you should know the following information for everyone:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Contact number
  • Date of birth

If your loved one’s will was not recently updated and one of the beneficiaries is deceased, you will need to obtain a death certificate before taking the will to probate. There are several things that need to be completed before a will can be probated.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Make Sure Your Final Wishes Are Granted With A Valid Will

A will is an important part of your estate plan. Your will determines how your assets and your properties will be distributed when you are no longer here. There are certainly many benefits of creating a will, but there are so many people who do not have one. If you want to make sure all of your wishes are fulfilled when you are gone, you should definitely start thinking about creating a will, if you do not already have one.

There may be some things you do not consider when you are creating an estate plan, but your will can address a number of those issues. Your assets will be protected and your wishes will be honored.

If you have specific wishes on who will get a certain asset or who will get a certain amount of money, you are definitely going to want a last will and testament. When you have a valid will, you may be able to prevent your family members from arguing and mistrusting one another.

When you are creating your will, you should be aware that there are some things you should avoiding including in the will, such as the following:

The Funeral

You do not have to include your funeral plans in your will because the document will not be able to determine what happens at your funeral. However, if you want your family to pay for the expenses out of the money in your estate, you can include that in your will. If there are certain wishes you have for your funeral, you can discuss that with the person you plan to name as the executor.

Beneficiaries

You do not have to include any information about your beneficiaries of life insurance or any other benefits because those benefits will automatically go to the listed person. If you need to make changes to your policies, it is important that you make those changes while you still have time.

We know it can be difficult to think about creating a will, but it is a very important step in your estate planning process. If you want to make things easier for your loved ones by creating a will, contact us today for more information.

Estate Planning Advice: Should You Discuss Your Plans With Your Children?

One of the toughest decisions that people have to make in the estate planning process is how much information they should share with their children. There is not a one-size-fits-all method for this type of process.

What is best for your family depends on how you plan, when you plan, and all of your family’s circumstances. Many people are not comfortable talking about what they plan to do with their valuables and possessions. Many of them are worried their children may not want to work or may not want to work as hard if they know they will be getting a significant amount of money from their parents.

Another big worry is that discussing an estate plan could result in a family argument if one child will receive more than the other. Many families will just avoid the matter altogether so they can keep the peace in the family.

It can be really difficult to decide if you should discuss these plans with your family, but there are some very good reasons why you should at least consider having this discussion with your family.

The Arguments

If you think for a second that any of your children could be upset with your wishes, it may be better to discuss your plans with your children now. If there is an argument, at least you will be able to explain your decision to your children. You are still here and able to tell them why you did it.

Sudden Death

If you die unexpectedly, your family will have many questions about your plans and what steps they should take. If they do not know where you typically keep your things, it can be extra stress added onto the grief they are experiencing. If you discuss everything now, your family will know what to expect after you pass away.

If you are concerned with any issues about your estate plan, you should not hesitate to consult with an attorney. Contact us today if you would like a consultation.

Guardianship Litigation: Does The Appointed Guardian Need To Be Removed?

When anyone is named the guardian of a person who has become incapacitated, they have been given a big responsibility. When someone is named a guardian, they have to be meticulous about all matters concerning their ward, especially when it comes to their finances and their state of health.

If one of your family members has been named someone’s guardian and you feel he or she is not treating the ward fairly or if you think the guardian is not fulfilling their responsibilities, guardianship litigation may be the best way to handle this matter.

You can tell the court why you feel the appointed guardian should no longer be responsible for caring for your other family member. The court can decide whether or not the appointed guardian should be removed.

If the appointed guardian does any of the following or has any of the following, you can present your case to the court.

Here are some reasons why the court will have the appointed guardian removed:

  • The guardian is using their powers to his/her advantage
  • The guardian is not fulfilling any of the responsibilities he/she promised to fulfill
  • The guardian has been convicted of a felony
  • The guardian abuses drugs and/or alcohol
  • The guardian is not following any of the orders given by the court
  • The guardian is not using the finances on the ward, but himself/herself instead

If you know the appointed guardian is not being responsible and is not properly looking after your loved one, you can contact us today for additional information.

Will The Estate Probate Last For Many Years?

Many people do not know much about probate, wills, guardianship, etc. These are not usually the topics that are discussed while people are sitting around the dinner table. It is important that we all know something about these topics, even if it is just the basics.

There are many myths and misconceptions about probate. One of the common misconceptions is that it takes years for an estate to be probated. However; many estates do not take years to reach a resolution.

One of the main delays during a probate involves the state law. Creditors have to be given enough time to file a claim. How much time a creditor gets to file a claim is different in every state. After the creditors have been given a period of time to file a claim, the estate can be closed after the deceased person’s representative has paid the debts.

If everything goes the way it is supposed to go, many estates will be resolved in a year or within a year. There are some things that can slow the probate process and have it lasting for years. Here are some things that can cause a probate to last for multiple years:

  • The size of the estate(If the estate is a big one, it may take longer than the standard time frame mandated by your state)
  • Family arguments and disagreements

Generally, a probate will not go on for multiple years, but there are some cases where it does happen. If you want to know how you can avoid a probate or if you need advice on how to get through a probate, contact us today.