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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Should you consider a testamentary trust?

As you're working through the process of estate planning, you may decide that you want to have a living trust or testamentary trust. The two trusts are slightly different from one another and can help you protect your assets.

A testamentary trust is one set up in your last will and testament or contained within your living trust, while the living trust is set up while you're alive.

Are there different kinds of guardianship?

When you're deciding on guardianship for your children, you may need to make decisions based on the kind of guardianship you want for them.

Minors, for example, may need full guardianship, which gives a guardian full legal responsibility for someone's financial and legal affairs. Joint guardianship might be beneficial for minors or adult children with disabilities since there is more than one person sharing guardianship authority and responsibilities. In some cases, you'll want to set up limited guardianship. For instance, a disabled adult may need some help with finances but be otherwise capable of making their own decisions.

Start planning for the future with your estate plan today

As you get older, you will find that you want to take steps to protect your assets. Doing so legally is called estate planning. Estate planning determines how your assets will be preserved, managed and distributed upon your death.

An estate plan can also include information about what you would like to see happen if you are incapacitated and unable to take care of yourself.

Consider a special needs trust for your child's inheritance

If you have a child with a disability that you'd like to take care of if you pass away, then you may want to set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust is created to hold assets that are to be managed for another person's benefit. For example, you could set aside $100,000 for your disabled adult child and have a trustee manage those funds for them.

Special needs trusts are designed for those with both physical and mental disabilities. This includes people who cannot manage their own finances. These trusts can be used to make sure beneficiaries don't lose government benefits, which is a primary benefit of setting one up.

Ways an executor can breach fiduciary duty

When a loved one dies, the will usually names a party to administer the estate. This party becomes the executor and may be a family member, friend, legal professional or even an institution such as a bank.

The purpose of the executor is to handle the affairs of the estate according to the decedent's wishes. However, sometimes, an executor may mishandle assets or harm the estate in any other way, which constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty.

What can't trusts do?

Trusts are good addition to most estate plans. Not only can they help you avoid probate, they also allow you to disperse assets according to certain rules and conditions. However, some assets shouldn't be placed in a trust, according to The Balance. Using a trust effectively offers the greatest benefit to your heirs, as well as your estate. 

If you have a vehicle you plan on leaving to an heir after you die, you may think re-titling it to show ownership by the trust is your best option. However, depending on where you live you may be subject to a hefty transfer tax when doing so. This is because re-titling vehicles are actually considered a type of sale, so you would be subject to the same type of tax. As an alternative, look into state laws to determine whether you can change the beneficiary designation on the title to establish the trust as a recipient. You may also be able to purchase a new vehicle in the name of the trust. 

Establishing a guardian is important for you and for dependents

Guardianships are arrangements made to appoint a person as the caretaker to a child or disabled adult. The minor or disabled adult is known as a ward and is protected by the guardian.

While many people think about appointing guardianships for their children, it's also important to establish a guardian for disabled or incapacitated individuals. This can include setting up a guardian for yourself.

How will divorce affect my estate plan?

Divorce causes a lot of changes in a person's life. This is especially true when it comes to estate plans, which many people neglect after their divorce has been finalized. Not updating your estate plan will cause major issues and may even result in probate court if you fail to remove your ex-spouse as an heir. Forbes explains what changes should be made to estate planning documents after a divorce so you can rest assured it continues to meet your wishes. 

Review beneficiary designations

How can I choose the right guardian for my child?

It's not a subject most parents want to think about. Picking a guardian for your child should something happen to you and your spouse can be difficult, but it's important to ensure your child is well cared for in case something happens. According to Forbes, there are important questions you should ask yourself when making the decision, and these questions can help you make the best choice. 

What is the person's current family structure?

When should I update my estate plan?

An estate plan is an essential tool that not only protects your assets but also safeguards the people you love. While making a plan is of the utmost importance, updating your plan is equally so. If you fail to review your plan on certain occasions, your final wishes might not be adhered to when it comes to settling your estate. That's why Forbes recommends updating your plan after the following events. 

You get divorced (or remarried)

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