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Wills & Estate Planning: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
This Chart Shows How Federal Estate Tax Rates...
The exemption from federal estate taxes has gradually increased over the years while the estate tax rate has gradually decreased. Here you will find a chart that shows the increases in the exemption and decreases in the tax rate from 1997 through 2014.
How to Obtain a Copy of a Deceased Person's Will
If you're looking for a copy of a deceased person's last will and testament, then here are the steps that you need to take to locate it.
See How the Annual Exclusion from Gift Taxes...
The annual amount exempt from the federal gift tax, called the annual gift tax exclusion, was indexed for inflation beginning in 1997 and has slowly increased over the years. Here you will find a chart that shows the increase in the annual gift tax exclusion from 1997 through 2014.
Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Inheritance?
If you inherit property from a family member or friend, you will need to understand the tax consequences of your inheritance. This article summarizes the different types of taxes that will affect an inheritance.
Learn the Differences Between Revocable and...
When it comes to understanding trusts, knowing the difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts is crucial. If you ask for a revocable trust and get an irrevocable one, or vice versa, the legal and tax consequences will be significant.
2014 State Death Tax Exemption and Top Tax Rate...
Currently only a handful of states and the District of Columbia collect a state estate tax and/or a state inheritance tax. Here you'll find a chart that lists the 2014 estate tax or inheritance tax exemptions and the 2014 top tax rates.
State Estate Tax and Exemption Chart
Currently only a handful of states and the District of Columbia collect a state estate tax. Here you'll find a chart that lists the historical and current estate tax exemptions for the states that collect estate taxes at the state level.
State Inheritance Tax Chart
Currently the District of Columbia and a handful of states collect a state estate tax, while only a six states collect a state inheritance tax. Learn the difference between an estate tax and an inheritance tax and view a chart that summarizes the inheritance tax laws of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Overview of 2014 Estate Tax, Gift Tax &...
On January 2, 2013, a new law was enacted that governs estate taxes for 2013 and future years. Here you will find a summary of what the laws provide for the estates of decedents who die in 2014 as well as the 2014 gift tax rules and 2014 generation skipping transfer tax rules.
What is the Future of the Federal Estate Tax in...
The passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has added some certainty to the future of federal estate taxes, or at least many believe this to be the case. Nonetheless, with the federal deficit soaring to record numbers, the need for increasing revenues will continue for years into the future. So what really is the future of federal estate taxes in 2014 and beyond?
How to Locate Online Probate Court Dockets and...
If you are interested in reviewing the information about a probate estate and obtaining copies of probate court documents, many courts now have this information posted for free online. Here you will find the steps required to locate online probate court records and request copies of probate documents.
New York Estate Tax Rules Prior to April 1, 2014
If you live in New York, then you live in one of the remaining states that collects a state estate tax or a state inheritance tax. The New York estate tax laws changed as of April 1, 2014. Here you will find a summary of the laws that were in effect for deaths occurring prior to April 1, 2014.
Lifetime Exemption From Federal Gift Taxes:...
Over the years the lifetime exemption from federal gift taxes has gradually increased while the gift tax rate has gradually decreased. Here you will find a chart that shows the changes in the lifetime gift tax exemption and gift tax rate from 1997 through 2014.
What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
At least once a month I receive a call from a potential client who wants to contest the validity of a loved one's will, and at least once a month I explain the four legal reasons for challenging a will, how difficult it is to prove any one of the four, and how much it will cost to proceed. Most of the time I never hear from the potential client again. With that said, here are the four legal grounds for contesting the validity of a will.
What is the Gift Tax and Who Pays It?
The federal gift tax is one of the most misunderstood and often ignored taxes assessed by the federal government. Two states also assess gift taxes. Learn what the gift tax is and who is responsible for paying it.
Gift Tax Exclusion: Annual Exclusion vs....
What's the difference between the annual exclusion from gift taxes and the lifetime gift tax exclusion? Find out here.
Do You Have to Report Gifts or Inheritances...
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien and you receive any gifts or bequests from nonresident aliens, then you may have to report the gifts or bequest to the IRS. Learn about the filing requirements for IRS Form 3520 here.
How Is the Gift Tax Calculated?
The federal gift tax applies to all gifts that you make during the course of your lifetime. However, every U.S. citizen is given a lifetime exemption from paying gift taxes. Thus, a gift tax will only be owed if the total value of all of the gifts that you've made exceeds your lifetime exemption from gift taxes.
Overview of Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Laws
Pennsylvania is one of seven states that collect an inheritance tax, as opposed to an estate tax, at the state level. Learn all about the Pennsylvania inheritance tax laws here.
Everything You Need to Know About Exemption...
Definition of Exemption from Gift Taxes
Who Gets a Copy of a Will After the Testator...
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Overview of 2013 Estate Tax, Gift Tax &...
On January 2, 2013, a new law was enacted that governs estate taxes for 2013 and future years. Here you will find a summary of what the laws provide for the estates of decedents who die in 2013 as well as the 2013 gift tax rules and 2013 generation skipping transfer tax rules.
When is a Federal Estate Tax Return Required to...
A federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) is only required to be filed under very specific circumstances. Regardless, some estates may need to prepare IRS Form 706 strictly for state estate tax purposes or electing portability, while others should consider filing IRS Form 706 even if it is not required to be filed. Here you will find information about when an estate tax return is required or recommended to be filed.
When Is Probate Necessary?
A frequent question I'm asked as an estate planning attorney is "When is probate really necessary?" As
What is the Federal Estate Tax?
While the federal estate tax was initially repealed as of January 1, 2010, on December 17, 2010 it was resurrected and applied retroactively back to January 1. The federal estate tax is collected on the transfer of a person's assets to his or her loved ones after death, but not all estates actually have to pay the tax. Find out why.
2013 Income Tax Brackets for Estates and Trusts
Estates and trusts that earn income during the course of any given year must file IRS Form 1041. Learn what the income tax brackets are for estates and trusts in 2013.
What Happens to a Retirement Account When the...
If your loved one has died and you're the beneficiary of a retirement account such as an IRA or 401(k), then you'll need to understand the tax consequences of inheriting the retirement account. The results will be very different if you're a surviving spouse or not.
Death in the Family? Who Pays Off the Debts of...
If your loved one has died and the medical and credit card bills have started piling up, then you'll need to understand who will be responsible for paying off all of these debts and in what amounts. Learn who will have to pay and how much.
What Happens to a Joint Account When an Owner...
If your loved one has died and you're the surviving joint owner of an account held with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety, then you'll need to understand the tax and other consequences of inheriting the account.
How Long Will Probate Take?
One of the first questions I'm asked when I sit down with the Personal Representative of a new estate
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that is created by an individual, called a Trustmaker, to hold and own the Trustmaker's assets, which are in turn invested and spent for the benefit of the Trustmaker by an individual or institution called the Trustee.
Probate Checklist - How to Probate an Estate
In conjunction with my step by step guide on how to probate an estate, here is a convenient checklist of the 6 steps involved in settling an estate.
Understanding Joint Ownership of Property
There are three basic ways that you can own property: in your individual name, in joint names with others, and through contract rights. Joint ownership comes in three forms: with rights of survivorship, as community property, and as tenants in common.
What's the Difference Between Per Stirpes and...
When it comes to estate planning terms, two that you'll need to be familiar with are per stirpes and per capita. These are Latin terms that are commonly used in Last Will and Testaments and Revocable Living Trusts to describe how your property is to be left to your beneficiaries.
Should I Have a Revocable Living Trust?
When considering whether or not to include a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan, you'll need to understand the pros and cons of using a trust instead of just a Last Will and Testament.
4 Ways to Avoid Probate
Avoiding probate really isn't that difficult if you have the right tools and information. Learn the four ways to avoid probate and what may or may not work for you.
Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates...
Form 1041. Wills & Estate Planning.
How Much Does a Personal Representative Get Paid?
If you've been appointed to serve as the Personal Representative or Executor of an estate, then in most cases you'll be entitled to get paid for the services you provide on behalf of the estate. How much you'll receive and when you'll receive it depends on many factors.
What Happens to a Payable on Death Account When...
If your loved one has died and you're the beneficiary of a payable on death or similar type of account, then you'll need to understand the tax and other consequences of inheriting the account.
How Property is Titled Dictates Who Inherits It...
Each and every time I sit down with a new client, I ask what should be a simple question, but in reality it is usually one of the most difficult questions that the client must answer. Learn what this question is and why it is the one real key to good estate planning.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
If you don't have an estate plan or have failed to completely fund your Revocable Living Trust, then your loves ones will be faced with probating some or all of your assets. The overall cost of probate will vary depending on the type and value of the property that's being probated.
What is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of locating and determining the value of a deceased person's assets, paying the deceased person's final bills and taxes, and then distributing what's left to the deceased person's heirs.
How to Calculate Your Estate Tax Liability
Whether your estate will be liable for estate taxes depends on the value of your gross estate, the amount of debt owed by you at the time of your death, the total expenses that will be incurred while settling your estate, and any deductions that your estate can take. Here's how to figure out an estimate of your estate tax liability.
When is a Gift Tax Return Required to Be Filed...
One of the most misunderstood taxes is by far the federal gift tax. Learn what the federal gift tax is and if you will need to file a federal gift tax return, or IRS Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, with regard to gifts that are made in 2013.
How to Become a Florida Resident, Officially
If you are thinking about becoming a Florida resident, then follow the steps listed in this article to make your change of residence official.
States Without an Estate Tax or an Inheritance...
In 2014 a majority of U.S. states will not collect an estate tax or an inheritance tax at the state level. Find out if your state is one of them.
What Happens at the Reading of a Will?
After someone dies, when is their will read out loud to the heirs? Find this out and much more.
Using Joint Accounts and Payable on Death...
There are two common and simple ways to avoid probate - using joint accounts and using payable on death accounts (POD), also called transfer on death accounts (TOD), as well as in trust for accounts (ITF), and Totten trusts.
What is an Irrevocable Trust?
An Irrevocable Trust is one that by its design can't be amended, modified, changed or revoked. In other words, once an Irrevocable Trust has been created, the written terms of the trust agreement are generally written in stone and can't be tweaked for any reason in the future.
Step by Step Guide to Opening a Probate Estate
In general, there are 8 steps that should be followed in order to open a probate estate with the appropriate state court, but some of the steps can be skipped if the decedent didn't leave a Last Will and Testament or left a pile of papers to sort through. Learn what these 8 steps are and how someone gets appointed to serve as a Personal Representative/Executor.
What is an Annual Exclusion Gift?
At the end of each year I get calls from clients who are ready to make their year end "estate planning"
Who Can Contest a Will?
A lawsuit that is brought to challenge the validity of a Last Will and Testament, referred to as a will
What You Need to Know About AB Trusts
Married couples can maximize the use of both of their federal exemptions from estate tax by using AB Trusts as part of their estate plan. Here's how the AB Trust system works.
Who is Responsible for Paying a Deceased...
When a person dies, one of the biggest concerns of the surviving family members becomes what bills they'll be responsible for paying and in what amounts. Learn who has to pay and why.
Form 709
Form 709. Wills & Estate Planning.
Exemption From Estate Taxes
Definition of Exemption From Estate Taxes
New York Estate Tax Rules: April 1, 2014 to...
If you live in New York, then you live in one of the remaining states that collects a state estate tax or a state inheritance tax. The New York estate tax laws changed as of April 1, 2014. Here you will find a summary of the laws that went into effect for deaths occurring between April 1, 2014 and March 15, 2015.
Overview of New Jersey Inheritance Tax Laws
If you live in New Jersey, then you're lucky enough to live in one of the two states that collects both a separate state inheritance tax and state estate tax (Maryland is the other). Here you will find a summary of current New Jersey inheritance tax laws.
Wills vs. Revocable Living Trusts - What Do You...
A question that estate planning attorneys are asked all of the time by clients is "How do I figure out
What Are Non Probate Assets and Are They...
Non probate assets are simply assets that won't need to be probated after you die. But will they be included in the value of your estate for estate tax purposes? Find out.
What is a Payable on Death, or POD, Account?
Payable on death accounts, also known as POD accounts for short, are a popular way to avoid probate. Learn what a payable on death account is, who can establish a payable on death account, and what should be considered before you decide to establish one.
What is a Transfer on Death, or TOD, Account?
Transfer on death accounts, also known as TOD accounts for short, are a popular way to avoid probate. Learn what a transfer on death account is, who can establish a transfer on death account, and what should be considered before you decide to establish one.
Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Changed?
By its design an Irrevocable Trust is just that, irrevocable, and so as a basic rule an Irrevocable Trust can't be amended, modified, changed, or revoked. But with that said, here are some things to consider if you think that you're stuck with the terms of an Irrevocable Trust.
Step by Step Guide - How to Probate an Estate
Most people have little experience dealing with what happens after their loved one dies and they get appointed as Personal Representative/Executor to settle the estate. The purpose of this guide is to provide a general overview of the 6 steps required to probate an estate.
What Happens if You Don't Have an Estate Plan?
What will happen to your property if you don't make a will and estate plan before you die? What does it mean to die “intestate?” How does a Revocable Living Trust fit into an estate plan? Learn this and more.
What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is the fiduciary put in charge of overseeing the day to day management of property owned by a trust. A Trustee can be an individual, an institution, such as a bank or trust company, or a combination of both.
Overview of Current Federal Estate Tax Laws
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How Much Does a Successor Trustee Get Paid?
If you've been appointed to serve as the Successor Trustee of Revocable Living Trust after the Trustmaker has died, then in most cases you'll be entitled to get paid for the services you provide on behalf of the trust. How much you'll get paid and when you'll receive it depends on many factors.
Annual Exclusion Gift
Definition of Annual Exclusion Gift
What's the Difference Between an Estate Tax and...
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Does Life Insurance Have to Be Used to Pay a...
If your loved one has recently died and you're the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, learn whether or not you'll have to use the life insurance proceeds to pay your loved one's final bills.
Overview of 2013 Estate Tax Filing Requirements
The 2013 tax year ushered in some significant changes to the laws governing federal estate taxes. Learn when a federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) is required to be filed for deaths that occur in 2013 and all of the applicable filing deadlines.
Form 4768 - Application for Extension of Time...
Definition of Form 4768. Wills & Estate Planning.
Understanding Death, Estate, and Inheritance...
There are two types of taxes that can be assessed against your property after you die - estate taxes and inheritance taxes, both of which are commonly referred to as death taxes.
What is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust?
Many people are not aware that all of the proceeds from their life insurance policies will be included their estate for estate tax purposes. Learn how to remove life insurance proceeds from your estate by using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT.
What Gifts Are Not Subject to the Gift Tax?
Not all transfers of property from one person to a nonspouse beneficiary where no cash or other monetary value is exchanged are taxable for federal gift tax purposes. Currently there are three types of such transfers that are not actually considered gifts at all for federal gift tax purposes. Learn about them here.
Who Gets a Copy of a Trust After the Trustmaker...
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States With an Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax in...
In 2014 less than half of the U.S. states still collect an estate tax or an inheritance tax (or both) at the state level. Find out if your state is one of them.
What Gifts Are Subject to the Gift Tax?
The federal gift tax applies to all gifts that you make during the course of your lifetime. Whether a gift will be taxable for gift tax purposes depends on three things. Find out what they are and if you have made any taxable gifts.
Does California Collect an Estate Tax?
California, like all other states, did collect a state estate tax prior to January 1, 2005. Learn why things changed on this date and if it is possible for the California estate tax to come back.
How to Minimize Estate Taxes
While the federal estate tax was originally repealed in 2010, it came back retroactively and remains in effect today. Many states also assess estate taxes and/or inheritance taxes. For people whose estates will be taxable at the state and/or federal level, they have several options for reducing their estate tax bill.
What is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a person or institution given the power to act on behalf of another in situations that require great trust, honesty and loyalty. When it comes to estate planning, you'll be selecting a variety of fiduciaries to act on your behalf. Here's a list of the fiduciaries you'll need to choose for your estate plan.
Exemption From Federal Generation Skipping...
The exemption from federal generation skipping transfer taxes has increased over the years while the tax rate has decreased. Here you will find a chart that shows the increases in the exemption and decreases in the tax rate from 1997 through 2014.
How Do I Know if My Attorney's Fees are...
There are many factors to consider when it comes to determining the reasonableness of an attorney's fees. Aside from the attorney's experience in handling legal matters similar to yours, local and even state wide business practices also influence what an attorney will charge for a particular matter. Here's a list of factors to consider when determining if the fees quoted to you by a qualified estate planning attorney are reasonable.
What Documents Are Needed After Someone Dies?
After someone dies, the surviving family members will need to gather up all of the decedent's important papers. This will give the family members and/or attorney who will be assisting with settling the decedent's final affairs all of the pertinent information needed to complete the settlement process. Here's the list of documents that will be needed to settle an estate or trust.
Overview of Illinois Estate Tax Laws
If you live in Illinois, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a state estate tax or a state inheritance tax. The estates of Illinois residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Illinois, are subject to a state death tax in addition to the federal estate tax under the guidelines listed here.
How Are a Deceased Person's Debts Handled...
If your loved one has died and a probate estate will be required, then you'll need to understand how your loved one's final bills and other debts will be handled before and during the probate process. Learn who will be responsible for paying the bills and when.
What Does a Successor Trustee Do After the...
In setting up your Revocable Living Trust, you'll be asked to name a Successor Trustee to administer your trust after you die. Learn what a Successor Trustee is required to do when settling your trust after you die.
What are the Benefits of a Revocable Living...
When it comes to deciding whether or not you should set up a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan, you'll need to understand the three main benefits that a Revocable Living Trust offers over a Last Will and Testament.
Per Stirpes
Per Stirpes. Wills & Estate Planning.
Overview of New Jersey Estate Tax Laws
In addition to a state inheritance tax, New Jersey also imposes a separate state estate tax which has been decoupled from the federal estate tax laws. Find out what this means for New Jersey residents.
Inheritance Tax
Definition of Inheritance Tax. Wills & Estate Planning.
What is a Codicil?
A Codicil is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a Last Will and Testament but leaves the other provisions unchanged. As long as you are mentally competent, you can change, modify, update, or completely revoke your Last Will and Testament at any time. But the question becomes, when should you make a Codicil and when should you write an entire new Last Will?
2014 Minnesota Estate Tax Laws
If you live in Minnesota, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a local estate tax or inheritance tax. The estates of Minnesota residents, as well as the estates of certain nonresidents are subject to a local Minnesota death tax in addition to the federal estate tax.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal agreement that has three parties to it: the Trustmaker, the Trustee, and the Beneficiary.
Can You Disinherit Your Spouse?
With modern estate planning comes unique estate planning challenges because today's families are different - from same sex and unwed couples raising children, to estranged parents who stay married to raise their children, to married couples who live completely separate lives but nonetheless remain legally married. The latter two groups beg the question - can a spouse be disinherited?
Form 706
Form 706. Wills & Estate Planning.
How to Use a Transfer on Death Deed or...
How a transfer on death (or TOD) deed or affidavit, also called a beneficiary deed or affidavit, can be used to avoid probate is fairly straightforward. Learn how this type of deed or affidavit works here.
New Estate Tax and Income Tax Laws for 2013
To avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Congress and President Obama acted in the early hours of 2013 to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act. Find out what this new law means for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation skipping transfer taxes and income taxes for 2013 and beyond.
What is an Estate Lawyer and What Does an...
An estate lawyer is an attorney who, through years of mentoring, continuing legal education and experience, understands how to advise Personal Representatives/Executors and estate beneficiaries on settling all of the affairs of a deceased person.
What is a Trust Amendment and a Trust...
A Trust Amendment is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a Revocable Living Trust but leaves the other provisions unchanged, while an Amendment and Restatement of Trust completely replaces and supercedes all of the provisions of the original Revocable Living Trust.
Overview of Types of Property Ownership
There are only three ways to own property - in your individual name, in joint names with others, or by contract rights. Here you'll find a summary of what each type of ownership means for you and your family.
Which States Collect a State Inheritance Tax?
Currently a handful of states and the District of Columbia collect an estate tax at the state level, six states collect an inheritance tax at the state level, and two states collect both an estate tax and an inheritance tax. Find out if your state collects an inheritance tax.
Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship
Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship
How Does a Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate?
A common way to avoid probate is to establish and fund a Revocable Living Trust.
Avoiding Probate By Adding Your Children to...
Many people believe that adding their children's names to the deed for their home is a good way to avoid probate of the home after death. But not so fast - adding your children to your deed should only be considered after understanding all of the problems that can occur after doing so.
A Quick Guide to Florida Homestead Laws
Having practiced law in Maryland for nine years before moving to Florida in 2004, I have found the laws
Overview of Taxes that Affect an Estate
When preparing or updating your estate plan, you will need to have a basic understanding of the different types of taxes that can affect your estate - gift taxes, estate taxes, inheritance taxes, generation skipping transfer (or GST) taxes, and income taxes.
How Much Does Guardianship or Conservatorship...
Once a person has been determined to be mentally incapacitated and the court establishes a guardianship or conservatorship, various fees and costs will be incurred on behalf of the ward. In fact, guardianship or conservatorship is a costly business.
Do You Need to Hire an Attorney to Settle a...
Many people believe that if they have a revocable living trust, then the process of settling their final affairs will be simple and won't require the assistance of an attorney. In my experience this is true for only a limited number of trusts. Here you will find a list of things to consider when determining if an attorney will be required to assist you with settling your loved one's revocable living trust.
What Value of an Asset is Used for Estate Tax...
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How to Calculate the Value of Your Gross Estate
The first step in figuring out if your estate will be liable for estate taxes is to determine what is included in your gross estate. Here's how.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that is the first building block to your estate plan. After determining that you need an estate plan, your estate planning attorney will recommend either a will-based plan or a trust-based plan. Your Last Will and Testament will take on significantly different roles depending upon the type of plan that is recommended.
Are Gifts to Your Spouse Taxable?
Are gifts to your spouse taxable? The answer to this question depends on the answer to two other questions: (1) Is your spouse a U.S. citizen? and (2) Is the gift to your spouse a gift of a present interest or future interest?
Stepped Up Basis
Definition of Stepped Up Basis. Wills & Estate Planning.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If someone dies due to the negligent, reckless, or deliberate behavior of someone else, then the surviving family members should be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn what a wrongful death lawsuit is, who can file one, and what types of damages can be collected.
Which States Do Not Collect a State Estate Tax?
Currently a majority of states do not collect an estate tax at the state level. Find out if your state is one of them.
Paul Newman's Estate - What Does Paul Newman's...
Actor, Director, Race Car Driver and Philanthropist Paul Newman died on September 26, 2008. His Last Will and Testament and First Codicil were signed only a few months before his death. A summary of what the will and codicil say can be found here.
Can a Creditor Take Assets Held in Your...
Does transferring your assets into a Revocable Living Trust protect them against creditors, lawsuits, and divorce? The answer to this question is a resounding no - a Revocable Living Trust offers absolutely no asset protection for your property. Find out why.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal...
In setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a number of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in various situations. One such fiduciary will be your Personal Representative, also called an Executor/Executrix or Administrator in some jurisdictions, named under your Last Will and Testament. Learn what a Personal Representative is required to do when administering your estate.
What Are the Options for Non-Spouse Beneficiari...
If you inherit a traditional IRA and you aren't the account owner's spouse, then you'll most likely have several different options to choose from with regard to your inheritance. Learn what options you may be able to choose from and what will work best in your situation.
What is a Will Contest and When Can a Will...
A will contest is a type of lawsuit that is brought to challenge the validity of a Last Will and Testament and can be filed at one of two points during the probate process.
How to Calculate Your Estate Tax Liability in...
Whether your estate will be liable for estate taxes depends on the value of your gross estate, the amount of debt owed by you at the time of your death, the total expenses that will be incurred while settling your estate, and any deductions that your estate can take. Here you will find a quick way to determine an estimate of your estate tax liability if your death occurs in 2013.
Revocable Trust Myths
Throughout my years practicing as an estate planning attorney, I've run across some common misconceptions that people have about Revocable Living Trusts. In some situations they believe that a Revocable Living Trust will do something that it really doesn't, and in other situations they believe that a Revocable Living Trust won't do something that it actually does. Learn what these common myths are and if you've fallen for any of them.
2014 Gift Tax Return - Do You Need to File One?
One of the most misunderstood taxes is by far the federal gift tax. Learn what the federal gift tax is and if you will need to file a federal gift tax return, or IRS Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, with regard to gifts that are made in 2014.
What Happens Without a Last Will and Testament?
If you fail to make a Last Will and Testament before you die, then your estate will be divided up based on the intestacy laws of your state as well as the intestacy laws of any other state where you own real estate. And what about your minor children? A judge will decide who they will live with and who will control their inheritance. And yet it's easy to avoid all of this, learn how.
How Long Will it Take to Settle a Trust After...
How long it will take to settle a Revocable Living Trust after the Trustmaker dies depends on many factors.
Step by Step Guide - How to Settle a Revocable...
Once the successor Trustee has paid the decedents final bills and has the ongoing trust expenses under control, the next step is to pay any income taxes and estate taxes that may be due. Page 5.
State Tax Chart
If you are looking to move to a new state or for the best place to retire, then understanding what taxes will be associated with your move or retirement city will be important since each state has its own tax laws. Here you will find a chart that shows which states collect an income tax, sales tax, death tax, and/or gift tax.
Overview of Maryland Inheritance Tax Laws
Maryland is one of two states that collect an inheritance tax and an estate tax at the state level. This article explains the current Maryland inheritance tax laws.
What is a Personal Representative?
A Personal Representative, also referred to as an Executor/Executrix or Administrator in some jurisdictions, is the fiduciary put in charge of settling a deceased person's estate.
What Types of Taxes Are Due After Someone Dies?
Not sure what types of taxes a deceased person's estate or trust may be liable for? This article gives an overview of the taxes that may affect an estate or trust and the types of tax returns that will need to be filed.
How Do You Make Changes to Your Last Will and...
As long as you're mentally competent, you can change, modify, update, or completely revoke your Last Will and Testament at any time. But how do you make changes to your Last Will that will be legally valid? Find out.
Heir at Law
Heir at Law. Wills & Estate Planning.
Is Your Last Will and Testament Valid?
When it comes to creating a Last Will and Testament, it's very important for you to observe all of the formalities required by the laws of your state in order to make the Last Will legally valid and binding on your heirs at law.
Does Texas Collect an Estate Tax?
Texas, like all other states, did collect a state estate tax prior to January 1, 2005. Learn why things changed and if it is possible for the Texas estate tax to come back.
Testamentary vs. Living Trusts
When you're putting your estate plan together, you'll need to understand the difference between testamentary trusts and living trusts.
What is Portability of the Estate Tax Exemption?
On December 17, 2010, President Obama signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization,
Overview of Oregon Estate Tax Laws
If you live in Oregon, then you live in one of the remaining states that collects a state estate tax or a state inheritance tax. The estates of Oregon residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Oregon, are subject to a state death tax in addition to the federal estate tax under the guidelines listed here.
What Are the Options for Paying Adult...
When deciding who you want to inherit your estate after you die, aside from figuring out who will get what, you'll need to determine how and when they'll get it. For adult beneficiaries, there are three options for giving them their inheritance: outright, in stages, or in a lifetime trust.
Which States Still Collect a State Estate Tax?
Currently only a handful of states and the District of Columbia still collect an estate tax at the state level. Find out if your state is one of them.
What is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust?
A Qualified Personal Residence Trust , or QPRT for short, is a type of irrevocable trust that is designed
Estate Tax
Estate Tax. Wills & Estate Planning.
What is a Probate Judge and What Does a Probate...
A probate judge is the judicial official who is in charge of overseeing all aspects of probate estates in his or her jurisdiction. A probate judge's role in the administration of an estate will vary based upon whether or not the decedent died testate or intestate, whether or not the Personal Representative, heirs at law of the decedent, and the beneficiaries named in the Last Will and Testament get along, and whether or not a will contest is filed.
What Does it Mean to Fund a Trust?
In order for a Revocable Living Trust to function properly, it's not enough for the Trustmaker to simply the sign trust agreement. After the agreement has been signed, the Trustmaker must “fund” his or her assets into the trust. But what does this mean?
Should You Write Your Own Will?
Should you write your own will? This question has already been asked in the Wills & Estate Planning Forum and aside from my own comments several others, including estate planning attorneys and non-attorneys alike, chimed in with their own feedback. The resounding answer was - NO, do not attempt to write your own estate planning documents. Here's a summary of the reasons why not.
Probate Checklist - How to Open a Probate Estate
In conjunction with my step by step guide on how to open a probate estate, here is a convenient checklist of the 8 steps involved in opening a probate estate.
What Are Probate Assets?
When a deceased person's estate owns certain types of assets, called probate assets, then the estate will be subject to a probate court proceeding in order to get the probate assets out of the deceased person's name and into the names of the rightful heirs. Here you will find a description of the three different types of probate assets.
Does Florida Collect an Estate Tax?
Florida, like all other states, did collect a state estate tax prior to January 1, 2005. Learn why things changed on this date and if it is possible for the Florida estate tax to come back.
Overview of Nebraska Inheritance Tax Laws
Nebraska is one of seven states that collect an inheritance tax, as opposed to an estate tax, at the state level. Learn all about the Nebraska inheritance tax laws here.

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