Probate describes the legal process that takes place after an individual’s death. It includes a number of routine steps that must ensue in order for the deceased’s estate to be settled. During probate, all claims on the state are resolved and assets are distributed to the correct people, usually family members. The probate court determines the validity of the testator’s will, eventually granting probate to the estate’s executor.
Elder law is an area of the law that concerns itself with the issues that affect the elderly. With Baby Boomers now in their 60’s and 70’s, there is a growing population who need help in a wide variety of areas. From estate planning, wills, trusts, disability and guardianship to retirement planning and Medicare, Elder Law seeks to address the issues that concern the elderly.
A gift tax can be imposed on any transfer of property, money or assets from one individual to another when the giver expects and receives nothing or less than full value in return. The tax can be applied whether or not the donor means for the transfer to be a gift. According the IRS website, a gift is “Any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money’s worth) is not received in return.”
A guardianship is established when minors inherit money, property, some type of estate or insurance proceeds. The process involves petitioning the Courts to ask that an individual be appointed guardian of another. This is also necessary when an adult is no longer able to take care of their financial and business affairs.
A properly drafted Will offers you financial protection and it offers your family peace of mind. This is the most effective method of settling the affairs of your estate. A last will and testament should clearly define your wishes concerning the dispersal of all your worldly possessions and name those who will inherit the assets of your estate. If you have a large estate, this can also save tax money.
A trust does not replace a will. In general, a trust deals with specific assets, such as a home, vacation property or life insurance policy. A will administers the distribution of almost everything else in your estate. A trust will help your family avoid probate court proceedings after your death, which will save them money, time and worry. A revocable living trust is a very effective probate-avoidance technique often used for all types of property including bank accounts, real estate, paintings, precious heirlooms and more.