If a person dies without a will, it’s called intestacy. Another formulation is that someone who died without a will died intestate. Intestacy laws are laws that govern what happens to the assets of a deceased person who dies intestate. Those rules are necessarily one-size-fits-all to some extent.
A law professor thinks that intestacy laws “cannot truly reflect diversity of lifestyles and associations.” I can’t disagree with that. The Professor suggests “using big data to create personalized rules, tailored to the personal characteristics of each decedent.” I don’t know what data the professor is talking about, but it sounds complex. It’s also completely unnecessary.
It’s easy to avoid having the intestacy laws decide what happens to your assets. How easy? As easy as making a will. That’s personalized, and it avoids intestacy.
The message of a post on the Cato blog is that the reporting on how people responded to a poll question about financial preparedness is misleading. Read the post for the whole story, but the upshot is this: the assertion that 40% of Americans can’t handle a $400 emergency expense is not supported by the evidence.
A recent news item reports on a supposed trend of parents cutting back on their retirement savings to fund their grown childrens’ lifestyles. I’m always skeptical of this kind of report, but if this is in fact a trend, it dovetails with advice I have been giving for a long time about estate planning: if your children (or grandchildren) don’t have their act together by the time they are about 30, they probably never will, so there’s no point in delaying the distribution of their share of your estate past that age. If you don’t think they can be trusted with their share of your estate at age 30, then assume they won’t ever achieve that status, and plan accordingly.
A living will is a written statement that controls health care decisions that can be made on your behalf. That’s pretty important.
To learn more about what a living will is (and what it is not), how a living will works, and what alternatives exist for executing a living will, you will want to read my February newsletter. It’s available now in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
A tangible personal property list is a list you can make to go with your will, if it’s provided for in the will, to specify who is to receive items of your tangible personal property. Read all about it in my Estate Planning Law Report for December, now posted in the publications section at my firm’s web site, deconcinimcdonald.com.
Tangible personal property does not include currency. It also doesn’t include real estate, since that is real property, not personal property.
That reminds me of my favorite bit of dialogue in A Charlie Brown Christmas (which I watch every year, and watched again on Friday):
Lucy: “I never get what I really want [for Christmas].”
Charlie Brown: “What is it that you really want?”
Lucy: “Real estate.”
Will My Trust Shield My Assets From The Claims Of My Creditors? THE TIMELY TOPIC OF MY SEPTEMBER ESTATE PLANNING LAW REPORT
My September newsletter was mailed last week and is now posted at deconcinimcdonald.com. It’s about a question that comes up regularly: will a trust shield your assets from future liabilities?
In the newsletter I also discuss the perennial topic of what assets are exempt from the claims of your creditors under Arizona law. I said under Arizona law because the rules are different in other states.
On a related topic, here is a link to a newsletter I wrote a while back about Arizona law on how one particular type of property, your homestead, may be exempt from claims of creditors. I have heard that there’s no limit to the homestead exemption in some states, but that’s not the case in Arizona.
If you would like to receive my newsletter via snail mail, just send me an email via the link on my home page.
My September newsletter is in the works. I’m going to address an estate planning topic that comes up regularly: will a trust shield your assets from future liabilities?
I’m also going to briefly discuss what assets are, under Arizona law, exempt from the claims of your creditors. Note that I said under Arizona law, because the rules are different in other states.
In the meantime, here is a link to a newsletter I wrote a while back about Arizona law on how one particular type of property, your homestead, may be exempt from claims of creditors. I have heard that there’s no limit to the homestead exemption in some states, but that’s not the case in Arizona.
One of the most commonly used vehicles for non-testamentary estate planning (that’s a term I just made up) is the revocable (“living”) trust. Non-testamentary estate planning refers to any estate planning method that doesn’t rely on a will. Perhaps a better term (one that I didn’t make up) is non-probate estate planning. That includes any method of transferring assets owned by a deceased individual outside of an estate administration (that’s what’s commonly referred to as “probate”).
The revocable trust is widely used as a vehicle for non-probate estate planning, but it doesn’t actually allow you to avoid probate unless it’s “funded.” What is “funding” a trust? And what are some other ways to leave things to people without using a will, or in other words, what are some other methods of non-testamentary estate planning? Find out by reading my Estate Planning Law Report for August, 2018, now available for your enjoyment, and hopefully edification, in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com. It’s also linked on the home page.
A superficial treatment is better than none at all, but an article I read on Fox Business really didn’t tell me much of any substance, even though it was loaded with quotes from authoritative-sounding lawyers.
Oh, the subject was valuation discounts for family limited partnership interests. Apparently, the IRS has proposed new regulations that would narrow the circumstances in which the IRS will allow those discounts to be applied.
Those valuation discounts are, as the Fox Business article indicates, a method to reduce the value of, and hence the estate tax on the transfer of, family limited partnership interests when an owner dies. It’s not a new idea.
Having advised clients on handling their loved ones' estates for almost thirty years, I have seen numerous situations in which someone's attempt to direct the disposition of their estate, i.e. to create a valid will, was ineffective. Don't let this happen to you. Read about the Arizona rules for how to make a will in the May edition of my Estate Planning Law Report.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.