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Estate Planning Issues to Resolve

People are living longer due to increased medical technology and higher living standards, life spans have increased. Because of the increased life spans, estate planning has become more complex. It is more difficult to arrange estate assets so that a person has enough money to retire, their surviving spouse has money for support, and there is a sufficient estate for their beneficiaries. Also, because of the increased longevity, people are greater targets of elder abuse such as assault, fraud, and undue influence.

It is important to plan ahead for one’s last years by arranging for a third party such as a family friend, attorney, certified public accountant to have the power of veto over transfers greater than a nominal amount. Ways to accomplish this are a durable power of attorney. By the durable power of attorney, you will avoid the likelihood of elder abuse, fraud, undue influence, and decimation of valuable estate assets as mentioned before.

Another problem related to longevity is that persons usually pick a executor and trustee from persons close to them, i.e., siblings and friends. Because of this, it is likely that the executor and trustee is perhaps as old or sickly as the grantor. Imagine if the executor or trustee becomes senile or incompetent, you then have the added legal and financial aggravation of having to remove them. Therefore, it is better to have a executor and administrator who is in good health and preferably at least 20 years younger than the grantor.

Additional considerations I suggest in estate planning are to discuss your estate planning with your beneficiaries while you are competent. Explain your reasoning to them, and hopefully you can develop some guide of how your estate should be distributed.

Treat all children equally. In some situations children are not as worthy and/or as motivated as their siblings. However, try to avoid the pitfall of differentiating between them. Do you really want to leave a legacy of family members squabbling?

Finally, never give estate assets outright to your beneficiaries unless they are mature to properly manage and appreciate them. Perhaps you should consider a irrevocable trust that will terminate upon age 30 or 35, a age when they should have iron out their rough edges.

Perhaps utilizing some of this reasoning whether your estate is distributed pursuant to a will or trust, you will be passing along your wealth as you want it passed, while still keeping family relationships intact.

© Copyright 1997 - 2009 - Gregory L. Martin, Esq. - All Rights Reserved.

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