|Financial Planning | Budgeting | Saving | Investing | Retirement | Estate Planning | Senior Living Costs | Long Term Care Insurance | Real Estate | Interest Rates | Charts|
Basic documents everyone should have:
People who you list as "who to call in an emergency" should know where you keep these documents.
A Durable Power of Attorney can make it very broad (General Power of Attorney) or can limit the Durable Power of Attorney to certain acts (Limited Power of Attorney)
Any competent person 18 years of age and older can serve as an Attorney-in-Fact. Certain financial institutions can also serve.
In most states, your signature on your power of attorney must be notarized, or at least two adults, unrelated to you and each other, and who are not named as the attorney-in-fact, must witness you sign the power of attorney.
The person(s) you are naming as Attorney-in-Fact must sign also acknowledging they have read it and agree.
Some recommend sending a copy to financial institutions where you have accounts.
At ElderLawAnswers they say,
"There are many do-it-yourself power of attorney forms available; however, it is a good idea to have an attorney draft the form for you. There are many issues to consider and one size does not fit all."
2 and 3a are combined in some states. In California, it's called an advance health care directive.
Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Jersey calls it an Advance Directive.
I have 4 documents done in 1997 in New Jersey; A will, A Living Will, Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care, & Durable Power of Attorney.
See How to Use a Durable Power of Attorney
Where to get your documents prepared:
If you have a complicated estate you should get an estate planning attorney to do it for you.
For simple estates there are several online sources. Rocket Lawyer was listed as best or one of the best in a small sample of review sites I looked at.
Legal Zoom. A little more expensive than most.
Quicken Will Maker (NOLO)
Others: LegacyWriter, Do It Yourself Documents - Free Generic Last Will & Testament, Suze Orman's Will and Trust Kit, Willing
If you have a complicated estate in excess of $1 million with things like a blended family, income property, IRAs, stocks, etc. a will can cost several thousand dollars.
Putting Online Wills to the Test - WSJ
Wills 2016 - Reviewed and Ranked
The Best Software for Wills in 2016 | Top Ten Reviews
When the 1st spouse dies, the marital trust is divided into 2 trusts, Trust A and Trust B.
Trust B (Credit Shelter or Bypass Trust) holds an amount equal to the federal estate tax exemption.
The surviving spouse named as life beneficiary of the trust while the principal is held in Trust B for the deceased spouse's beneficiaries.
Any remaining assets are placed in Trust A (Survivor Trust). Since Trust A is considered a marital deduction trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse, any assets put there are tax exempt.
Note: Some explanations reverse the labels A and B.
an AB trust has some significant costs--and if you don't need to avoid taxes, they probably aren't worth it.
See AB Living Trusts and AB Disclaimer Trusts | ThisMatter.com
Important Note! The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has added an exemption portability, which allows the decedent to leave any unused estate or gift tax exemption (referred to as the deceased spousal unused exclusion, or DSUE) to a surviving spouse, thereby eliminating the primary purpose for an AB living trust or AB disclaimer trust. The executor of the decedent spouse must make the election on Form 706,. However, the surviving spouse can only use the DSUE of her last deceased spouse. The AB trust still has certain advantages over choosing the portability option, in that the AB trust will still be able to use the exemption of the deceased spouse even if the spouse remarries, the trust assets will go to the decedent's chosen beneficiaries, and the assets in the trust can appreciate in value without adding to the estate value of the surviving spouse.
Consider the possibilities of the couple with property worth more than the estate tax exemption but less than twice the tax exemption. Without the use of a trust, the deceased spouse can leave all of his property to either:
It is a separately invested trust created by transferring cash, marketable securities, or income-producing property to a trustee.
A charitable lead unitrust pays an annual income equal to a percentage of the value of the principal, as valued annually. The percentage payout is selected when the trust is created.
A charitable lead annuity trust pays a fixed amount annually to charity. The fixed dollar amount is specified when the trust is established.
There are also grantor and non-grantor CLTs. Which is beyond the scope of this summary.
Charitable lead trusts are designed to provide income payments to at least one qualified charitable organization for a period measured by a fixed term of years, the lives of one or more individuals, or a combination of the two; after which, trust assets are paid to either the grantor or to one or more noncharitable beneficiaries named in the trust instrument.
The value of the interest committed to charity is subtracted from the fair market value of the property at the time it is transferred to the charitable lead trust, thereby reducing the taxable amount. See Charitable Lead Trust | Planned Giving Design Center
You could be giving your kids too much too soon. But with many trusts, by the time you find that out it is too late to make any changes.
You should consider delaying larger portions of their children's inheritance, giving them more when they are older and allowing the trustee to have more discretion in distributing their money should they need it sooner.
Wills, Estates, and Trusts - Table of Contents | ThisMatters.com
Intestacy, Wills, Trusts, Estates, and Probate--Overview | ThisMatter.com
AB Living Trusts and AB Disclaimer Trusts
Legal Documents Checklist
Key Legal Documents Documents You Need