Who should I name to be Executor?

Q: Who should I name to be Executor of my Will?

A:  Choosing an Executor is one of the most important decisions you make when you plan your estate. When you name someone as Executor you are giving them a job with substantial responsibilities, not just an honorary title. Being Executor can be time-consuming and difficult, and holds the potential of personal liability for mistakes made.

The Executor is responsible for carrying out the administration of the estate, filing necessary documents in Probate Court, collecting the assets of the deceased, paying debts, distributing the assets as directed by the Will, and filing any necessary tax returns. The job can last 9 to 12 months if there are no problems. In a complex estate with assets that may be hard to manage or sell or where family relationships complicate the administration, the executor’s job can last for several years. The Executor can be held personally liable for mistakes such as distributing all the assets before the taxes are paid.  [Read more…]

Gift-giving as a means of estate planning

We have all heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive. This is especially true if you are a wealthy person who wants to minimize estate taxes. Giving away money or investment assets, whether to charities or to family members, reduces the size of your estate and therefore reduces the amount of estate and inheritance taxes that your estate will pay later.

The advantage of giving gifts during life is that you get the pleasure of seeing your loved ones enjoy the gift. It is a relatively low cost means of reducing your estate and can be as simple as writing a check. You don’t have to pay an estate planning lawyer to help you do it. However, you should get some initial guidance from an accountant or estate planning attorney on the laws covering these types of gifts so that you don’t inadvertently run up a big gift tax liability. Gift taxes are paid by the donor, not by the recipient of the gift.  [Read more…]

Why do I need Estate Planning?

Q: Why do I need estate planning?
A: Everyone needs estate planning.  Life changes, and sometimes those changes come without warning.  We all age, and we are all subject to accidents, illnesses and possible disability.  An estate planning attorney can help you plan for those changes.

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