Welcome to the SimplyWilled library,
Can I include my stepchildren in my estate plan?
For purposes of your estate plan documents ‘my children’ refers only to your biological children. As a default stepchildren will be excluded from your estate. In order to provide for your stepchildren in your documents, you must not select the option to add additional beneficiaries, and then enter the names of your stepchildren into the interview.
I am in the process of getting divorced, my spouse and I are legally separated, how do I keep them from receiving any of my property?
Laws regarding divorce differ from state to state. If you are presently legally married, even if you and your spouse are now separated, specific state laws may make disinheriting a current spouse difficult. If you wish to disinherit your spouse, it may be a good idea to get the counsel of a family law attorney licensed to practice in your state of residence.
I have property outside of the United States. Will SimplyWilled’s documents provide for its distribution?
Yes you can provide for how property located outside of the United States will pass. It is important to note that different countries have different inheritance and property laws and your United States estate plan may be superseded by these local laws. If you own property outside the United States is recommended that you rely on the advise of an attorney familiar with the laws of the applicable country regarding disposition of your estate.
What is the difference between my personal representative and my trustee?
Whether your estate plan simply includes a will or a living trust as well, it is critically important to select someone to be responsible for the disposition of your estate. An executor or personal representative, depending on the jurisdiction, is responsible for disposition of assets under a will. A trustee is responsible for disposition of assets according to the terms of your trust. An individual such as a relative, a close friend or a professional advisor such as an attorney or accountant can serve in these capacities.
What does the executor or personal representative do?
The answer is, he or she serves after your death and has several major responsibilities, including: 1) administering your estate and distributing the assets to your beneficiaries, 2) making certain tax decisions, 3) paying any estate debts or expenses, 4) ensuring all life insurance and retirement plan benefits are received, and 5) filing the necessary tax returns and paying the appropriate federal and state taxes.
What considerations should I make in selecting a personal representative?
Whatever your choice, make sure that the executor; personal representative or trustee is willing to serve. In addition, it is good practice to have primary and secondary choices in the event that someone is either unable or unwilling to serve. Further, it is also good practice to consider paying a reasonable fee for these services. The task of serving as personal representative, executor or trustee isn’t easy and not everyone will want to accept the responsibility. Finally, make sure the executor, personal representative or trustee you select does not have a conflict of interest with your estate. For example, selecting a second spouse, children from a prior marriage or an individual who owns part of your business may result in an unintended conflict of interest between the selected party and your beneficiaries. The personal desires and objectives of a stepparent and stepchildren may conflict and result in an unintended feud, and a co-owner’s personal goal regarding your business may differ from those of your family and beneficiaries.
How do I include my financial accounts (bank accounts, savings, life insurance, retirement, stocks, etc.) in my will?
Financial accounts — including retirement, investment, life insurance, checking, savings, and so on — usually do not pass according to one’s will. Instead, these assets pass to beneficiaries named directly in your contract with the financial institution. For each account, contact the institution to determine if there are any beneficiaries already designated. If not, you can add them using the institution’s form. This way, the account will pass quickly outside of probate court. However, if you wish for a financial account to pass according to your will, you must ensure that there are no beneficiaries named with institution, and then your will controls. To leave an account as a specific gift, separate from the rest of your property, log in to your account using the same email and password used to create your account. Once you are on the Dashboard that reads ‘Lets get your affairs in order’, you should click on the ‘Get Started’ or ‘Make Changes’ link corresponding to the section titled ‘Leave property to your loved ones.’ Click ‘Next’ until you are asked how you would like to leave the rest of your property. It is here that you can select to leave specific gifts by creating a custom plan. Once you select this option, you will be able to add gifts such as your financial accounts.
Do I need witnesses and/or notarization for my documents?
Each state has its own set of laws regarding the signing, witnessing, and notarization of a will to make it legally valid. To make signing your estate plan documents simple, we provide you with a set of state-specific directions for executing you estate plan on the cover page of your estate plan documents. The instructions outline how to sign the documents to make them legally valid. Once you have followed the instructions, your estate plan documents will be legally valid and simply need to be stored in a safe place.
What is a Net Estate?
The net estate is the value of an estate after all debts have been paid. (Federal estate taxes are based on the net value of an estate).
What is a By-Pass Trust?
A by-pass trust is another name for the “B” part of an A-B living trust because the assets in this trust bypass federal estate tax.
What are Assets?
Assets are anything you own, including your home and other real estate, bank accounts, life insurance, investments, partnership interests, a business, furniture, jewelry, art, clothing, and collectibles.
What is an Administrator?
An administration is an individual or entity, such as a trust department, appointed by a court to settle the estate of a person who has died without leaving a valid will.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is the management of a decedent’s estate including the payment of expenses, debts and obligations, and the general settling of the estate.
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