The Law Firm of Bruce A. Danford, LLC

Will your kids survive their inheritance?

You worked hard all your life and amassed a significant fortune to pass on to your heirs. It would be tragic if one of your heirs, funded by an inheritance, led a dissolute life and headed to an early grave.

Even if situations don't get that dire, not all heirs are equipped to be good fiscal managers. If your children are still young, now is the time to teach them good money management skills. While it's never too late to learn, if you doubt an adult child or other heir's ability to manage an inheritance, there are ways to offset this concern.

You and your family can benefit from your estate plan

As you consider the many aspects involved with estate planning, you may worry that your plan will not meet your needs or the needs of your family. After all, a seemingly simple mistake could take your intentions off the rails.

Like with many events in life, you may find making preparations easier if you have the right information. Therefore, it is wise to explore the many estate-planning tools available to you and look into the pros and cons of each. This information may help you determine what planning options may help you create the best plan for your needs and wishes.

What should I include in a pet trust?

One of the best ways to plan for the care of your pet after you've died is by setting up a pet trust. Your pet trust will set aside funds to care for your animal and identify an individual who will serve as your animal's caretaker. Creating a pet trust is not entirely straightforward, however, so it's best when estate planners seek professional assistance when setting up this important legal document.

Here are the most important elements to consider when creating your pet trust:

Your responsibilities as a conservator

Being named as a conservator is one of the most important legal jobs you can have in life. You will be responsible for a variety of things for another person. This person will likely have become incapacitated to the point where he or she cannot make decisions or care for themselves. They will be named as a ward of the court and a conservator will be appointed.

The conservator will be responsible for handling all of the ward's property, including real estate and other tangible assets. This includes their home and their car. The conservator, if necessary, will be allowed to sell the ward's car or home to help pay for medical expenses or to help pay for residency in an assisted living facility.

All expectant moms should have living wills

Of all the pre-planning that expectant moms do for their impending arrivals, one thing that's seldom on their to-do list is to see an estate planning attorney before they give birth. Legal analysts suggest that they maybe should schedule a visit with one, though.

One reason that you may want to see an estate planning attorney if you're pregnant is to draft a living will. This is a critical document that will help your medical team know what your final wishes are if you were to become incapacitated during your pregnancy or to develop a life-threatening condition during childbirth.

Rethink guardianship if you get divorced

A key part of estate planning is deciding who will be your child's guardian if you pass away while that child is still a minor. Your peace of mind hinges on the knowledge that they'll be taken care of.

Naturally, if you're married, you probably just assume that your spouse will take care of your child on their own. Even if you get divorced, you may still assume that your ex is the best choice. That may be true, and it is the most likely outcome.

Will your estate plan cause discord among your family members?

Estate planning is a complex process that can involve many difficult decisions about both finances and future medical care. At the time you are drafting your plans, it is impossible to see into the future, but you would be wise to take care to consider how your choices will affect your loved ones down the road. Some estate planning choices may cause more harm than good. 

After you pass, the choices you made in your will and other estate planning documents will come to light. Your children and other beneficiaries will have the responsibility of settling your estate, and some of your decisions could cause discord and complications with this process. It may be smart to consider the long-term effects of your choices. 

Remember, you get your inheritance last

If a loved one passed away and you're in line for an inheritance, it's natural to wonder when you'll get it. In fact, that's one of the most common questions people have in this situation. You know that money is coming your way, but should you expect it in a few days or a few months?

The thing to remember is that giving you your money is probably the very last thing that will be done by the person tasked with administering the estate. The order of operations looks like this:

  1. Taking inventory of everything that the person owned and matching it up with the will.
  2. Determining everyone's legal roles in this process.
  3. Figuring out the value of all of the assets; for instance, if a home is one of the major assets, an appraisal may be needed to set the current market value.
  4. Paying off bills and other expenses that are connected to the estate.
  5. Paying off taxes and/or filing tax returns for the person's estate. They may still owe a significant amount for the portion of the year that has passed.
  6. Splitting up the money that is left between the people named in the will.

4 key reasons you may need an advance directive

As part of your estate planning, you may want to set up an advance directive. It works along with the rest of your plan to make sure that you get the medical care you need as the end of your life approaches.

Essentially, the advance directive is a list of your pre-approved medical care options. If you don't want doctors to use life support or resuscitate you, for instance, you can put that in the directive. No one can override it. Drafting this document in advance ensures that it really reflects what you want and that you are prepared for the unexpected.

Do most people have a will?

It seems fairly clear to you that you're going to need a will eventually. It's inevitable. The same is true for everyone you know.

That leads you to believe that most people must have planned for that inevitability. They must have wills and estate plans, right?