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Recommended Text on Estate Planning?
Old 09-27-2015, 10:57 AM   #1
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Recommended Text on Estate Planning?

On my list of one of things it is PAST time to do ...

Time for a search and then run to the library.

Could the group recommend some recent, well-written and useful texts?

Thanks!!
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Old 09-27-2015, 11:50 AM   #2
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I actually learned quite a bit about the process when I served as Executor/Personal Administrator for an estate. I checked out library books on his topic while serving.

Before this, I always thought that I should get a living trust, however after serving, I realized that a simple will should accomplish my goals.

In general, I have also used the NoLo series of books when there was a particular area of the law that I was concerned with learning more about.

-gauss
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by stephenson View Post
On my list of one of things it is PAST time to do ...

Time for a search and then run to the library.

Could the group recommend some recent, well-written and useful texts?

Thanks!!
I haven't read it, but perhaps try the "______ For Dummies" series on estate planning or revocable trusts or the like as a starting point to cover the basics of probably everything.

There are also countless websites here and there that I've stumbled across over the years that I have picked up little nuggets from. And if you do searches on the forum, there have been various threads where trustees (or people doing all of the grunt work for trustees, like me) have dealt with different financial companies in estate matters and have been impressed or less-than-impressed.

In terms of what way to go with estate planning, it depends on the size of estate you're talking about. If substantial (more than, say, $1 million or so), definitely worth it to do a revocable trust, to avoid probate and add privacy and speed up the transitions.

If it's "very large" (i.e. above the federal estate tax exemption of $5.xx million), definitely worth it to possibly have a consultant add in ideas on reducing estate taxes at passing.

If it's just maybe a few hundred thousand, and it's all in 1 or 2 investment accounts with no real estate, probably just a simple will with "Payable on Death" designations on the accounts - although I don't know if PODs bypass probate or not.

The deal with probate is that some states require you to hire a lawyer to go through probate. In some states, there are fees set by the state for what lawyers charge for this serves, starting at maybe 2%-3% for the first $50,000, and reducing the fee as the estate increases in size. Plus, it involves having to go to the courts several times for various filings/appearances, etc. Not THAT time consuming, but definitely a heck of a lot more involved than a simple revocable living trust, (and costing several thousands of $ more, possibly much more).

Compare that to a revocable living trust where the surviving trustee sends a copy of the death certificate to the company, the company verifies the person their dealing with is the trustee mentioned in the trust paperwork you had sent in ahead of time, and then does as the trust executor directs.

You'd also want to create living wills/durable healthcare Power of Attorneys.
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Old 09-27-2015, 02:11 PM   #4
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The "For Dummies" book on Wills and Estate Planning is a good start. Very readable and covers a lot of ground but not in super detail. But you'll be able to identify the areas where you want more information, and can go to other books for additional details.
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Old 09-27-2015, 03:40 PM   #5
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I found "Beyond the Grave" very helpful. Motivated me to move ahead with setting up a Revocable Living Trust for our assets. Not for everyone for sure but fit our estate configuration, especially with our rental properties.
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Old 09-27-2015, 04:49 PM   #6
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If it's just maybe a few hundred thousand, and it's all in 1 or 2 investment accounts with no real estate, probably just a simple will with "Payable on Death" designations on the accounts - although I don't know if PODs bypass probate or not.
In Maryland they do bypass probate and go directly to the named beneficiary. I don't know about other states.
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Old 09-27-2015, 05:36 PM   #7
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I'm just finishing up probate process in WA state for my mother's estate with value <$500,000 and had to go through probate requiring attorney. Getting to the finish line 13 months later due to several timeshares that needed title changes in different states requiring attorney assistance. It has convinced me to research revocable trust to avoid probate for DD.


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Old 09-27-2015, 05:43 PM   #8
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I found the NOLO books on Estate Planning to be helpful.
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Old 09-28-2015, 12:42 AM   #9
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Check your state... not all states require probate... estate size matters...


Also, some you can put language in your will to minimize probate activity... trust etc. that are being recommended are not necessary....


When my BIL died, sister did almost nothing with the courts... did all necessary things with death certificate and letters testamentary... I do not think she had a lawyer, just filed with the court and that was it... he did not have a will... she was his wife and no kids...
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Old 09-28-2015, 01:21 AM   #10
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In our jurisdiction we went to Staples and purchased a do it yourself will kit.

Our objective was not to do it ourselves but rather to gain an understanding of the process prior to going to our lawyer. It enabled us to quickly understand some of the advice we received. More importantly it enabled us to ask more questions and raise more issues than we otherwise would had we not started with the kit.

We did the exact same when we had to probate a will...so much so that we went ahead and completed the probate process ourselves without using a lawyer. But is was a fairly simple probate with no issues.
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Old 09-28-2015, 02:02 AM   #11
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Check your state... not all states require probate... estate size matters...


Also, some you can put language in your will to minimize probate activity... trust etc. that are being recommended are not necessary....


When my BIL died, sister did almost nothing with the courts... did all necessary things with death certificate and letters testamentary... I do not think she had a lawyer, just filed with the court and that was it... he did not have a will... she was his wife and no kids...
When your spouse dies, many states stipulate that, by default, all property passes to the surviving spouse. Therefore, it would likely be magnitudes far easier to probate an estate without a will if the deceased is your spouse. However....some states may not automatically leave everything to the surviving spouse if there is no will. In that case, you would technically have to probate whatever legally would go to other surviving relatives.

Also, even if you say certain things in your will - by law, if you have property/an account titled in the name of the deceased without explicit "JTWROS/payable on death/revocable living trust" wording on the title of the asset or account, then the ONLY way to legally remove the decedent's name off of an asset and retitle it in the name of a surviving non-spouse is through the probate process.


So even if you say in your will "I hereby leave all of my belongings to my neighbor", the neighbor cannot do anything to/with the assets until they take the decedent's name off of the account and put their name on it.

For example: my grandparents owned their house, with both grandparents on the title. Grandpa passed on. Grandma didn't do anything with the house. Several years passed. Thankfully, I finally got through to my grandmother to finally get some basic estate planning documents (they didn't even have a will!). So she retitled their house to be in her revocable living trust.

The big gotcha that we (her heirs) avoided: had grandma died without retitling her house in her revocable living trust, FIRST we would have had to probate the house to remove grandpa's name off of the title. THEN, after that was all done, THEN we would have had to go through the entire probate process AGAIN to remove grandma's name off of the title. A many month process with various steps (and significant expense!) compared to just 1 step while she was living.

Oh, sorry, forgot about some more fun: after someone dies and assets have to go through the probate process, there's a chance you will have to have an entire set of retitling every account/asset for the probate process, just to handle the assets during probate (i.e. if there are mutual funds or stocks that are paying dividends/interest/cap gains, or if a checking account is needed to pay utilities or real estate taxes for real estate, etc.). Not the end of the world....but yet another hassle that might have to be dealt with, either by surviving heirs and/or the lawyer (perhaps at $150/hr)

And if you've never dealt with various financial companies in trying to get help in figuring out just how you are to title various accounts for an estate - you will soon find out just how frustrating it can be to be tossed around by people who can't answer your questions, and then be told information by people who are supposed to know...but then find out later on that they didn't really tell you everything, nor did they quite know everything.
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:06 AM   #12
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MooreBonds,


Do not get me wrong... sister had a LOT of work to do... she just did not have to deal with the probate court... after she got her Letter.... she had to do everything you said about changing names etc. etc.... but without lawyers and without having the court involved....


Edit to add... I have been putting it off... but I know that my mom did not fix a very small asset and it is listed as The Estate of my dad... and he died in 1980.... I do not have to go to court to get it fixed, just need to get the old paperwork out... the big problem is that it is a royalty that maybe pays $100 per year... nobody in the family wants it since it creates a tax issue....
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Old 09-30-2015, 12:24 AM   #13
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Thanks, All!

Ordered Beyond the Grave as a starting point ...


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