Do I Need a Lawyer to Create a Last Will?

Any time you are going to execute a legally binding document, you would do well to speak with a lawyer. This can seem like an overstatement of the obvious, and for many years, it certainly was. However, now that we are all plugged into the Internet, you see websites that sell generic, boilerplate legal documents. They often contend that a lawyer is really not necessary. Is this the truth? For an answer, you may want to look at some research that was conducted by the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports back in 2012. They decided to look into the subject, and they got three of their staffers to use online tools that were provided by three of the major purveyors of generic legal documents. The researchers created three different last wills. The magazine researchers wanted independent experts to examine the wills to see if they were in fact valid. There were no particular expectations. For all they knew, the wills would be perfectly acceptable. The point was to find out the true fa
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Is There More Than One Type of Will?

Just about everyone has heard of the basic estate planning document called a will or last will and testament. This is a document that you can use to record your final wishes with regard to the distribution of your monetary resources. Before we look into the other types of wills that are used in the field of estate planning, we should point out the fact that a will is not always the best choice. There are various different trusts that can be used, and in many cases, a trust of some kind would be a better option. The ideal tool will depend upon the circumstances. If you discuss all of your options with a licensed estate planning attorney, you can go forward in a fully informed manner and ultimately create a custom crafted estate plan that ideally suits your needs. Now let s look at some of the other wills that are often utilized. Living Wills There is another type of will called a living will. This document has nothing to do with financial matters. You state your preferences regarding t
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Are All Asset Transfers Subject to the Probate Process?

The probate process is something that you should understand when you are making estate planning decisions. Assets are not immediately distributed to the heirs in many instances. Some asset transfers are subject to the probate process, but some types of asset transfers would not go through the process. Before we define probate property, let s look at some asset transfers that would not be subject to the probate process. Living Trusts If you were to use a living trust as a vehicle of asset transfer instead of a last will, the trustee that you name in the trust agreement would be able to distribute assets in the trust to the beneficiaries outside of probate. This is one benefit that you would gain if you use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, but there are others. Insurance You name a beneficiary when you take out a life insurance policy on your life. After you die, the proceeds would be distributed to the beneficiary by the company. The probate process would not ente
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How Expensive Is Long-Term Care?

The most pressing elder law issue of the current era is the matter of long-term care. People are living longer lives, and as you reach an advanced age, it becomes more and more likely that you will need living assistance eventually. Perhaps surprisingly, 70 percent of people who have attained senior citizen status will eventually need help with their day-to-day needs. You may assume that Medicare will pay for long-term care if you ever need it, but in reality, Medicare does not pay for custodial care. This is a serious matter, because long-term care is very expensive. Assisted Living Costs Genworth Financial has been researching the state of long-term care costs for the last few years, and the figures for 2015 have been released. Our firm is located in the state of Connecticut. According to the survey, in Connecticut, the median annual charge for a private room in a nursing home is a staggering $158,775 at the present time. A semi-private room is not going to provide much of a discoun
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What Is a Family Wealth Trust?

Accumulating wealth that you can pass along to your loved ones after you are gone is rewarding, but earning the money is only half of the equation. Given the potential impact of estate taxes, you must also take steps to preserve your wealth. This can be done through the creation of a family wealth trust of some kind. Wealth Preservation There is no specific type of trust that is formally called a family wealth trust, but this is a general umbrella that multiple different types of trusts would fall under. Before we look at some of these family wealth trusts, we should provide some information about the estate taxes that could be a factor for you. First, there is the federal estate tax that everyone in all 50 states must be concerned about. You can transfer unlimited assets to your spouse tax-free, but asset transfers to others are potentially taxable. However, there is a relatively large credit or exclusion that allows you to transfer a certain amount of property free of taxation. For
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Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

A well-constructed estate plan will be comprehensive in nature. Everyone is aware of the fact that you have to facilitate asset transfers when you put an estate plan in place, but you should also account for end-of-life issues. This is often done through the creation of documents called durable powers of attorney. Incapacity Planning When you think about your retirement years, some good times may enter your imagination, and your retirement years can be quite rewarding if you plan ahead effectively. At the same time, as difficult as it may be to consider, a very significant percentage of elders become unable to make sound decisions at some point in time. There are various different causes of incapacity. People sometimes become unable to communicate when they are experiencing physical decline, and there is also mental incapacitation. Alzheimer s disease is all too common among the oldest old. This disease strikes over 40 percent of people who are at least 85, and it is likely that you w
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Medicaid Planning: How Is My Spouse Impacted?

There is a great deal to take into consideration when you are planning ahead for your senior years. You may be under the assumption that Medicare will take care of all of your health care expenses, and you may also assume that Medicaid is not relevant to you. In fact, Medicare does not pay for everything in full. There are out-of-pocket expenses that you should be aware of when you are budgeting for your retirement years. These would include co-payments, deductibles, and monthly premiums. The out-of-pocket expenses are only part of the equation. Most senior citizens will eventually need help with their activities of daily living, and Medicare does not pay for long-term care. Medicaid does pay for living assistance, and this is why it is relevant to a significant percentage of senior citizens. Medicaid Planning It takes careful planning to qualify for Medicaid coverage, because it is a need-based program. Most people retire with some resources, and the income and asset limits are very
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