- The Executor’s Role in an Estate
You’ve been chosen as the executor for your parents’ estate, or you’ve selected the executor for your estate. What does the executor do? First, the executor must follow the provisions of the will, which is called fiduciary duty. This is a legal relationship between two parties, bearing the highest standard of care by the executor to the person who requested him or her. The executor cannot do what he or she wants to do, since the court oversees and must approve of the actions of the executor.
- The Importance of a Will
A will is a crucial document that must be taken care of well in advance of the end of your elder’s life. Do not allow your elder to die intestate (without a will). When your elder doesn’t have a will, the state may take over, which can become very complicated. You’re almost sure to lose a hefty percentage of the true value of the estate. By making a will and assigning power of attorney, your elder will feel comforted that his or her wishes will be carried out.
- 6 Practical Ways to Help Your Parents This Fall
Now that the weather is cooling and the leaves are falling, here are six practical ways that you can assist your elderly parents:
- Is It Time to Make a Change?
How long has it been since you reviewed your will? Whether due to unsettling financial crisis or a “blessed event” in your family, it may be time to change it. There’s no time like the present to find your will and review your decisions and circumstances related to your final wishes. You can change or update a will at any time. An amendment to the will is referred to as a codicil. I recommend you consult an attorney when you change a will, as some changes are considered minor, and some may require a completely new will. Here are some reasons for updating a will:
- Know the Plan
Knowledge is power. The more facts you know about your parents’ estate plans, the less you will have to decide on your own later. Make sure everyone in the family has talked with them about their estate planning and final wishes. It is imperative that you know the following:
- Leaving a Legacy of Love
Anne and Bill are a wonderful example of parents who prepare for the inevitable. Both are in their mid-70s, and in relatively good health, but their two children and several grandchildren live far away. They knew that when something happens to them, their children would have to journey to get there and assist. Wanting to make life easier for their kids, they decided to make sure their wishes were known.
- I Don’t Want the Government to Get My Property
Some people fear this will happen if they die without a will. Others have heard rumors about death taxes, and they think this is the “guvmint’s” final money grab as you’re taking your last breath. The latter concern—estate taxation—actually affects only about 1% of us, which is the topic for another blog. The first scenario could affect any of us, however.
- My Husband and I Own Everything Together—Why Do I Need a Will?
Most spouses do own everything together, 50/50. But the real question is, how? Are they joint tenants with right of survivorship, or tenants in common? (See Misconception #1.)
If they’re joint tenants, then the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse, with no need for a probate. If they’re tenants in common, the property of the first spouse to die will pass to others according to that person’s will. If no will can be found, the property passes to others per state law, the subject for next week’s blog.
- I’ll Just Leave Everything to My Daughter (She Knows My Wishes and Will Know What to Do)
Please don’t do this to your children! I got a call just this week that shows the pitfalls of this approach. Here’s the scenario: Dad died, leaving five adult children. When I drafted his will, he stated that he wanted to benefit all his children equally, so his will reflected that. His life insurance policies had all five children as beneficiaries. But his annuity policy only listed child #3 as the beneficiary.