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The Everything Wills and Estate Planning Book: Professional advice to safeguard your assests and provide security for your family

Overview

Most Americans don’t have a will. They avoid estate planning because they don’t want to think about death or they think it’s too complicated. But this easy-to-follow guide takes the mystery out of the process. This book shows readers how easy it can be to plan for security and peace of mind. Readers learn how to write a will, create an estate plan, designate executors, choose trusts, reduce tax liabilities, ...

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The Everything Wills and Estate Planning Book: Professional advice to safeguard your assests and provide security for your family

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Overview

Most Americans don’t have a will. They avoid estate planning because they don’t want to think about death or they think it’s too complicated. But this easy-to-follow guide takes the mystery out of the process. This book shows readers how easy it can be to plan for security and peace of mind. Readers learn how to write a will, create an estate plan, designate executors, choose trusts, reduce tax liabilities, and distribute their assets. Other features include:

  • A glossary of legal terms
  • Advice for protecting families from creditors
  • Guidance for unmarried partners
  • The important role of charitable giving in your estate plan

This book provides sound advice for planning retirement and managing assets at any age and income level. It also includes completely new information on:

  • Updated tax, IRA, and Roth details
  • Charitable giving opportunities for reducing taxes and leaving a legacy
  • Instruction for keeping plans up to date as the readers age
  • An estate planning checklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598698312
  • Publisher: Adams Media
  • Publication date: 6/18/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 662,492
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Deborah S. Layton (Wilmington, DE), an attorney and writer, served as director of estates and trusts in the Office of Gift Planning at the University of Pennsylvania for more than fifteen years. She assisted donors in making gifts through bequests, charitable gift annuities, and charitable remainder trusts. She is a contributing writing for Super Lawyers magazine in several states and for Delaware Today.
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Table of Contents

Top Ten Reasons for Creating a Will and a Sound Estate Plan x

Introduction xi

1 Everyone Needs a Plan 1

Why You Should Plan 2

Protecting Your Family 5

Protecting Your Assets from Creditors 9

Avoiding or Reducing Probate Costs 9

Reducing Taxes 10

Leaving Your Legacy 11

2 Preplan Prerequisites 12

Know What Is Available 13

Start with a Will 13

Consider the Advantages of a Trust 15

Appreciate the Convenience of Joint Property 16

Understanding Contractual Arrangements 17

Make Your Wish List 18

Shop for a Lawyer 21

3 The Five Steps of Creating a Plan 27

Step 1 Learn the Rules 28

Step 2 Organize Your Assets 29

Step 3 Decide Who, What, and When 33

Step 4 Choose Your Planning Tools 34

Step 5 Implement Your Plan 36

4 Understanding the Probate Process 37

Why an Estate Needs to Be Probated 38

Property That Is Not Subject to Probate 40

The Probate Proceeding 42

Probate Takes Time 44

Probate Usually Requires a Lawyer 45

The Cost of Probate 46

Meeting with a Lawyer 47

5 How to Avoid Probate 48

Reasons for Avoiding the Probate Process 49

Titling Property to Avoid Probate 50

Place Property in Trust 52

Make Good Use of Life Insurance 55

Consider Creating Retirement Accounts 57

Annuities May Be an Option 57

6 The Parts of a Will 59

An Overview 60

Declarations 61

Payment of Debts 62

Specific Devises 64

Memorandum for Tangible Property 65

Residuary Devise 69

Taxes 70

The Powers of Your Executor 71

Self-Proving Signature to Your Will 72

7 Decisions to Include Within the Will 74

Who Will Serve as Your Executor? 75

Who Should Receive Your Property? 78

How Should Your Property Be Distributed? 80

Do YouWant Your Property Sold? 83

What Is Best for Your Minor Child? 83

8 Drafting Your Will 87

Filling in a Form Will 88

Handwritten (or Holographic) Wills 89

Using Computer Software 90

Hiring a Lawyer to Prepare the Will 90

Sample Will 91

9 Changing Your Will 99

Ways to Change Your Will 100

Make a New Document 100

Strike a Provision 102

Make Written Changes 103

Add an Amendment 104

Destroy the Document 106

Where Should You Keep Your Original Will? 106

A Lawyer Isn't Required 108

10 Owning Property in Joint Name 109

The Joint-Property Estate Plan 110

Advantages and Disadvantages 110

Property Owned Jointly with Your Spouse 112

Taxes and Cost Basis 113

Joint Property with Someone Else 115

Gift Tax Consequences 118

11 A Trust May Be Right for Your Plan 119

What Is a Trust? 120

The Creator 120

The Trustee 121

The Beneficiaries 123

Powers of Appointment 123

Reasons for Creating a Trust 125

Advantages of a Trust 126

Disadvantages of a Trust 127

12 Decisions to Include Within a Trust 131

Choosing Your Trust Beneficiaries 132

When Your Property Is Distributed 133

Triggering Events 134

Restrictions and Penalties 135

How Your Property Should Be Distributed 136

The Power to Sell Your Property 140

13 Choosing a Trustee 142

Sequence of Trustees 143

Duties of the Trustee 144

Important Considerations 147

The Trustee and Your Property 149

If Your Family Doesn't Agree 150

Financial Guardian for Your Minor Child 151

14 Creating a Trust 152

Identify the Parties and Describe the Property 153

Assigning the Power to Control the Trust Property 155

Timing and Distribution of Assets 156

Assigning a Trustee 161

Miscellaneous Trust Provisions 163

15 The Lowdown on Life Insurance 166

Three Parties to a Policy 167

Types of Life Insurance 167

Choice of Beneficiary is Contractual 169

Life Insurance and the Probate Process 169

Tax Consequences 171

If Your Estate Exceeds the Exclusion 172

A Simpler Solution for Life Insurance 173

16 Reviewing Retirement Accounts and Annuities 174

Retirement Accounts, Annuities, and the Probate Process 175

Naming Your Beneficiary 176

Penalty for Early Withdrawal from Tax-Deferred Accounts 178

Income Tax Consequences 179

Estate Tax Consequences 183

Planning Ahead 184

17 Death and Taxes 185

What is the Federal Estate Tax? 186

Property That Is Subject to Federal Estate Taxes 188

Taxable Gifts 192

Gifts That Are Not Taxable 193

Deducations Against Your Taxable Base 193

Should You Leave All of Your Property to Your Spouse? 196

Figuring Your Federal Estate Taxes 197

18 How to Reduce Taxes 198

Credit Shelter Trusts (or Bypass Trusts) 199

Make Gifts of Your Assets 203

More Sophisticated Methods for Reducing Taxes 204

19 Charitable Gifts Can Reduce Taxes 208

Gifts During Lifetime 209

Planned Gifts During Lifetime 211

Charitable Gifts from Your Will or Trust 215

Advantages and Disadvantages of Charitable Gifts 217

20 Powers of Attorney 219

Types of Power of Attorney 220

Reasons for Having a Power of Attorney 222

Sample Durable Power of Attorney 223

Decisions to Make 230

Naming More than One Person 231

Creating a Power of Attorney 232

Reasons for Having a Medical Power of Attorney 233

21 Guidance for Your Family 235

What Instructions to Provide Your Family 236

Where to Keep Your Documents 236

Safe-Deposit Boxes 237

Funeral or Cremation Instructions 240

Prepayment Plans 242

Organ Donations 243

Keeping Your Plans Up-to-Date 243

Estate Planning Checklist 244

Appendix A Glossary 246

Appendix B Resources 251

Appendix C Asset Inventory Worksheet 253

Appendix D Sample Trust 261

Appendix E Sample Advance Health Care Directive 271

Index 279

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