Advice about Wills, Estates & Trusts
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Advice about Wills, Estates & Trusts
My husband and I are trying to write a will- but this is quite
new to us. I want to be as precise in the will as possible, as to
prevent my family from making claims to our estate or to our
child. I would like to leave my brother some money, but only for
his retirement. He is notoriously bad with money and I don't want
him to spend it before then. Is there any way to do that? Also
any advice about keeping my family out of it?
any advice would be greatly appreciated.
You should consult an estate planning attorney. It is worth the money
and hopefully will prevent/lessen painful moments for your children
regardless of when you die. Most estate planning attorneys will give
you a 2-hour free consultation which they use to suggest which
documents you need to have drawn.
You should contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of a trust.
You could provide for your brother's retirement to be administered
through the trust, name your alternate trustees and guardians for your
child, and designate how the trust is to be passed to your child.
There are several ways to ensure that your brother will be provided for,
without necessarily leaving money to him directly.
For instance, a trust can be easily established during your lifetime
which will operate to protect him. You would want to set it up carefully
- probably with the aid of an attorney - so that he would have access to
some funds in case of major emergency (at someone else's discretion!)
but so that he didn't fritter it away.
As far as keeping your family out of it, I'm not entirely sure what your
goal is. Do you simply want to ensure that none of your relatives have
access to the money, or are you trying to make sure that none of your
relatives inherit? Either way, an attorney could help you here as well.
Please feel free to contact me if you have more specific questions, or
if I can be of any further assistance.
I am trying to organize wills and retirement for myself and my partner and have
some complicated questions. Do we need a financial advisor or lawyer to answer
these? We are an unmarried hetero couple with a 20 year age difference and a
young child. Should we marry? I am slightly opposed to the institution. If we
our assets to eachother in a will, will the state override this (since we are
and grant them to our child? If not, will there be inheritance taxes or probate that
would not happen if we were married? If we marry and my partner needs expensive
medical care at the end of his life (a very likely possibility today), will we be
required to spend all of our joint retirement assets before we will get assistance
from the state? If so, given our age difference, I will enter retirement destitute
never retire). We save 15% of our income for retirement, but have very modest
incomes and know nothing about investment, so this doesn't add up to much. Is
there any way that I can leave my full assets to my partner if die, but also hold on
my retirement savings until I actually retire? Could trusts help? should we marry?
Who can answer these questions?????
A former colleague of mine and her then boyfriend (now husband)
were in the midst of setting up a slew of provisions,etc. with
their attorney regarding her son (from a previous marriage) and
her daugher (with the boyfriend). The attorney finally told
them it would be easier if they just got married which they did
(and still are married). However, if getting married is not an
option for you, you definitely need to consult an estate
planning attorney for all of the reasons you have mentioned.
From personal experience in dealing with my mother's estate
planning (she is alive but now suffering from dementia) and
setting up a trust with my husband, it is imperative that
people do estate planning when young children are involved to
say nothing of getting it on paper what your end-of-life wishes
You need to consult an attorney who can answer your questions.
The short answer to your question, however, is no, you do not
need to marry to achieve your objectives. Either a will or trust
document, properly prepared, will override the default
distributions that occur when someone dies intestate.
It sounds like you have some issues that require professional
advice. I recommend going to see Jarrett Topel who is a
financial planner in Oakland. He prepared a financial plan for
us and also referred us to an estate planning attorney who set
up a living trust for us which sounds like what you will need.
Jarrett's first appointment is free, so you could probably get
some good information without having to pay an arm and a leg
just to sit down and get some advice. His number is 510-655-
4400. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck.
Well, I confess that I don't much advocate marriage if both
people aren't keen on the idea. So - how to accomplish your goals
without marriage? Actually, it's not all that difficult. You will
need to draft your estate plan carefully, though, if you want to
leave everything to each other, rather than to your child.
Revocable living trusts are probably a good idea if you want to
avoid probate. If you don't get married, of course, your
retirement assets won't be at risk for his medical care. As far
as inheritance taxes are concerned, that will depend upon the
size of your estate. There is no California estate tax; the
federal estate tax currently affects only estates that exceed $2
million. If this is you, there are certainly things you can do in
your estate planning that will reduce (or in some cases
eliminate) your tax exposure.
Although some of this work could be done on your own, I strongly
recommend that you see an estate planning attorney in order to
create the best plan for your particular circumstances. As an
estate planning lawyer myself, I do sometimes refer people to a
financial advisor who can help them make the most of the assets
they have, as well as helping to build a tax shelter if
appropriate. However, it's the design of the plan itself that
will be the most useful to you in accomplishing the specific
goals you mentioned in your post.
Please feel free to email me directly if I can be of any further
assistance to you.
If you're mentioned in someone's will, how do you find out about it? My father
died a few weeks ago. He's been married to his second wife for over
25 years. While we've maintained a good relationship with our father, my
brothers and I have always had issues with his wife. We're assuming that if
there is a will, she gets everything (they never had kids and she has no
children). BUT if he was thinking of us, how long would it take for us to be
contacted? (The obvious thing would be to ask his wife, but for many PAINFUL
reasons we can't bring ourselves to!)
You can ask your question on the estates message board of
findlaw.com. If your father had a will it should be probated
and at that time you will probably get a notice. If your father
had a living trust and the amount of his probate estate is below
certain thresholds then you probably will not get notice from
the probate court but you should get notice from the successor
trustee of the trust. California has certain requirements for
notification of legal heirs, those that would inherit if there
was no will. What does this mean for you? Unless you want to
discuss this with your step-mother you will have to wait and see
if you get a notice. Alternatively, you (as an interested
party) could bring a probate action for your father's estate.
This will cost you some attorney's fees and likely could poison
your tenous relationship with your step-mother. To fully
understand this course of action consult an attorney. Good luck!
this page was last updated: Nov 8, 2008
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