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Archive for the ‘Wills’ Category

What Does A Trustee Do?

Rachael Phillips
July 31, 2014

A trustee manages the assets that are held in a trust.  When an individual or married couple places their assets in a revocable living trust, they often name themselves the trustee or co-trustees.  In that case, they are able to continue managing their assets in basically the same way that they did before they put them into the trust.  They can still use their bank accounts to pay their bills and make purchases just like they did before.  They can maintain their home or make renovations to it if they wish.  They can invest their assets and manage those investments however they choose.  When you are the trustee of your own trust, not much really changes about the way that you deal with your assets.

 

When acting as trustee of someone else’s trust, a trustee manages trust assets according to the terms of the trust.  If the trust terms state that the trust is to be used for an individual or group of individuals, then it is the trustee’s job to invest and manage the trust assets prudently and to pay the expenses of the beneficiaries according to the trust terms.  The trustee may be required to account to the beneficiaries, unless this requirement is waived.  There are a number of fiduciary duties that a trustee assumes when taking on the role of trustee.  Consulting an attorney familiar with trust administration is a necessary step to ensure each trustee is aware of his or her fiduciary duties.  There are very few blanket statements that can be made about all trusts, since the duties of trustees and rights of beneficiaries vary according to the specific trust document and its terms.

Aging Gracefully (asking for help as we age)

Ann Robbeloth
June 30, 2014

Our estate plans do so much more than handle inheritance these days.  The wonders of modern medicine cure or safely monitor our illnesses, and we often live many decades beyond our own expectations. An estate plan allows us to delegate tasks for a very specific purpose, or over long periods of time.

Together, a trust, power of attorney and health directive allow us to turn to our support system when we need help. A financial durable power of attorney can be used by a spouse, relative or friend, to pay bills, transfer money, file an extension on a tax return that is due, and generally keep our financial lives from disaster when we’re busy recovering from a car accident or receiving a course of treatment for a few months. A trust can be used to manage real estate and investments in the same way.

In my work, I see so many happy people late in life. They often tell me that they’ve lived longer than they ever imagined. The happiest people are those who know the strengths and weaknesses of their social network, and plan accordingly. They feel entitled to give responsibilities to others, knowing that they have contributed in many complex and wonderful ways to the lives of those to whom they turn when sick or in need of support.

You Can’t Take it With You

Sarah Savasky
June 26, 2014

We all understand that “we can’t take it with us” but determining the best way to leave our things behind can be confusing.

Both a will and a trust allow you to choose who receives your assets after you die. A will also allows you to nominate a guardian for your minor children. For most of us, the main benefit of a revocable living trust is that it avoids the expensive and time consuming process called probate (I’ll talk more about probate in my next post). For the very wealthy a trust can also avoid or minimize estate taxes. A trust also allows you to plan for your incapacity and to provide for a child with special needs after you are gone. A will can be used as a stand alone document without a trust. However, a trust is used in combination with a will. In this situation the will is sometimes referred to as a pour over will and it serves as a back up plan in the event that some or all of your assets have not been placed in your trust.

If your estate is small (under $150,000) you might not benefit form a trust, because small estates are exempt from probate, but money isn’t the only consideration that’s why it’s so important to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine which type of plan is best for you.

The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” –John Allston

When it Comes to Estate Plans, Size Doesn’t Matter

Sarah Savasky
June 11, 2014

There is a common misconception that only wealthy people need estate plans. The reality is that most people need an estate plan, but not everyone needs the same estate plan or benefits from one in the same way.

Although an estate plan typically includes four documents; a Revocable Living Trust, a Will, A Durable Power of Attorney for Management of Property and Personal Affairs (DPA) and an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), estate plans are as unique as the people who create them. They are definitely not one size fits all.

For a family with modest assets a good estate plan is especially important because it can help them pass more of their assets to their loved ones by avoiding the expense and time associated with probate proceedings.

The most important part of an estate plan is not the estate, it’s the plan.

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