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Wills, Trusts & Estates

November 22, 2014

What is a Will?

Wills have been with us since the first days of recorded history. Archaeologists have found hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs leaving property to others. The Bible told of the story that Jacob left Joseph a larger inheritance than his brothers received, and of the trouble that ensued as a result.

In our now modern times, wills are somewhat different and certainly more complex. What you put in yours depends on what property and assets you have at the time of your death, the dynamics of your family, and so on.

Depending on your situation and the value of your estate, it is wise to consult with an attorney who can properly advise you.



What is a Trust?

The biggest reason for setting up a trust is so the property does not have to go through probate at the time of death. Probate is the legal process which inherited property goes through to transfer the title to the beneficiary. In setting up a trust, a person can transfer his/her property to a legal entity or person before death and still have the use of it during his/her lifetime. If a person has a large estate, it is often wise to set up a trust, as it is ultimately far less expensive.



Estate Planning

You've got an estate. You may be a prince who has thoroughbreds and live in your family's ancestral country manor; you may stash your prized coin collection in your one bedroom apartment. For spending money, you may summon your private jet and fly off to get cash from your Swiss bank account or you may literally dip into your cookie jar.
Let's face it, though--if you're visiting this website, you probably sit somewhere in the middle. You have a nice house, a couple of kids, and a career or business you're reasonably happy with.

And, if you're like most Americans, you've avoided planning your estate -- for two perfectly natural reasons. First, you're afraid that you don't have as much money as you go around thinking you do. As embarrassing as it may seem, many people would rather not know the full truth of their financial situation.

The second reason? You don't want to die--don't even want to think about it.

A sound estate plan will ensure that your family is taken care of, minimize the specter of your heirs fighting over their inheritances, and keep your wealth from disappearing into taxes and lawyers' fees. What if you're wondering about the estate benefits to paying for your children's education? What if you doubt that your spouse could cope with the details of your estate? What if you and your spouse die simultaneously? Who would manage your estate for your underage children? And at what age should your children start receiving your assets? You can address all these issues through your estate plan.

Without planning, your survivors are likely to be unprepared for estate tax, meaning that your property and real estate may have to be quickly liquidated, thus making your survivors sellers in a buyers' market. So much the worse if, for instance, real estate prices are down and treasured holdings disappear for a fraction of their actual worth.

The basics of estate planning and some guidelines to get you started are outlined below:

Estate planning is vitally important, so keep close track of (and a record of) your investments.

Before you figure out what you want to give, and to whom you want to give it, you need to determine what you actually have.

Depending on the size of your estate, you'll need a few different people in specialized occupations as the process can be a bit complicated--you might need professional help from estate planners, estate lawyers, insurance agents, appraisers, trust executives or bank officers. Good financial planners usually have a fiscal or legal background, with professional training and experience in accounting, banking or finance, insurance, stocks or tax law.

A good idea is to speak with the heirs to your bequests now, while you still have time to think about how you want to provide for your loved ones. A well-thought-out plan can go a long way toward reducing resentment among those you love.



  
  

 

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Wills, Trusts & Estates

What is a Will?

Wills have been with us since the first days of recorded history. Archaeologists have found hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs leaving property to others. The Bible told of the story that Jacob left Joseph a larger inheritance than his brothers received, and of the trouble that ensued as a result.

In our now modern times, wills are somewhat different and certainly more complex. What you put in yours depends on what property and assets you have at the time of your death...

 

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