Jennifer C. Rydberg, Attorney at Law
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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Important estate planning documents everyone should have

When many Kent area residents think about estate planning, they often think it's about creating wills. While wills are important and major documents, there are many other health care directives that are included in an estate plan. We have highlighted a few medical condition documents in the following paragraphs.

There are many cases where a person suffers from a medical condition where they are not able to make medical decisions on their own. The first document a person needs in the event of this happening to them is a power of attorney. A power of attorney gives someone else the ability to act on your behalf in case a person become incapacitated. There can be a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.

Do you have people you wish to exclude from your estate plan?

 

Estate planning for Kent area residents varies significantly depending on each family. Every family has different wants and desires when it comes to their assets. Many times there is at least one person that a person creating an estate plan would like to leave out.

Thanksgiving and estate planning go hand in hand

As Kent area residents gather together this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, this time of the year is also a good time to have hard conversations. One topic that can be hard to discuss is estate planning. But having these conversations with aging parents is important.

Discussing estate plans with aging relatives is important; however, children should know whether or not their parents have an estate plan in place. Often, parents keep these matters private, but if circumstances arise that require estate planning needs, children should know what has already been decided. Thanksgiving often pulls families together from all over the country, so it's a good time to get together and discuss these important matters.

Qualified charitable distributions

Many Kent area residents donate to charity each year. Charitable donations help with taxes and are a great way to help organizations throughout our community. Charitable donations can also help with estate planning purposes when a person is still alive. Transferring money to a charity is one way for a person to impart their values to their heirs.

A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is a way for a person to transfer assets from an IRA to a charitable organization. Often, people use this option when they are forced to take a minimum required distribution. Individuals over the age of 70 ½ may make a QCD from their IRA. The transfer must be made directly to a charity with the limit being $100,000 each year. The person who uses a QCD cannot take that amount as a charitable deduction on their taxes.

How to select a guardian for your children

No parent ever wants to think about what would happen to their children if he or she died unexpectedly. Usually, most children in the Kent area outlive their parents, but occasionally a tragedy strikes that requires the children to go to a guardian. Setting up guardianships for children is a very important estate planning activity that all parents should complete.

When setting up a guardianship, there are several things for families to consider. First, there are two types of guardianships for children. The first is a guardian of the estate who oversees the financial aspects of the child, and the other is a guardian of the person who takes care of the child. A family can choose a different person for each of the guardianship roles. One can also assign more than one guardian for each role. But parents are advised to be careful when assigning more than one guardian of the person. Multiple guardians may mean the children are split up.

Is it time to update your estate plan?

Kent area residents who have an estate plan may feel like there is not a need to revisit it after creating it. Although creating an estate plan is important and can help families feel secure, there are certain times when it is important to review an estate plan.

Most people don't create an estate plan days before they pass away, so for many families, things can change over the years. As far as estate plans, there are several reasons why they may need to be updated. If a person gets married or divorces, this is a significant reason to have an estate plan updated. Also, if children or grandchildren get married or divorce it is also a good time to update. Other reasons include new real estate, change of beneficiaries, changing an executor or health care agent, life insurance, retirement or adding charities.

Protect yourself and your loved ones with LTC Planning

Growing old certainly has its challenges. And as a person ages, their wellness is also affected, ultimately leaving many elderly folks in need of assistance. While having family and friends to provide aid for an aging individual is often possible, as the person grows older, they may be in need of constant help and monitoring. Twenty-four-hour care, or long term care, is often necessary for such elderly folks. Such care is often very expensive though, and could possibly drain the assets and property of someone who spent their life growing a nest egg for their next of kin.

Certain things to keep in mind if a family member dies

When a family member dies, it is an emotional and sad time within a family. These loved ones were precious companions and trusted partners. Although it can be hard to think about financial and other estate planning matters during this time, there are important matters that need to be sorted out.

If the deceased family member was receiving social security, it may be a good idea to keep that account open for a few months to make sure all benefits have been received. In addition, there is a social security death benefit, and if the deceased's payment was higher than his or her spouse's, the surviving spouse may be entitled to the higher monthly benefit. It is also important for the family to know which bills will need to be paid and who could be held accountable for various debts.

How to plan to meet with an estate planning attorney

Estate planning is something that everyone in the Kent area should consider, regardless of circumstances. After setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney, there are a few things a person should do to prepare for the meeting.

Everyone's estate planning needs are unique. In order for an attorney to offer the best possible services, a person should think about a few things before meeting with an attorney. First, a person should think about what they want to accomplish with an estate planning attorney. This may include creating a will, setting up a trust, or drafting a health care directive, among other things. A person should also think about whether they have any unusual circumstances that may need to be addressed. This can include having a child with a disability, or maybe a child that has addiction issues, or there may be someone that a person would want left out of their estate plan. In addition, a person should have someone in mind to be their estate's representative and their child's guardian.

Making sure a will is almost incontestable

When a Kent area resident goes through the process of making a will, they do it believing that their will will hold up after their death. Most of the time this is what happens, but occasionally someone will contest a will, can which put a deceased person's final wishes at risk.

There are a few things a person should do to ensure their will is untouchable after they die. First, if legal, they can have a no-contest clause. This means that anyone who challenges the will and loses will not receive anything from the will.

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