On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Windsor, in which it reviewed, and ultimately struck down, Section 3 of DOMA. Section 3 of DOMA stated:
‘‘In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’’
The meaning of the Supreme Court’s ruling is now the federal government must treat legally married same-sex couples the same way they treat legally married opposite-sex couples.
Since the Windsor decision was issued, all the different federal departments and agencies, including the IRS, Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, and Medicare, have been scrambling to update their regulations so that legally married same-sex couples have the same rights and benefits of legally married opposite-sex couples. The new regulations are continuing to develop and evolve, but certain things are now clear.
First, legally married same-sex couples may now file their federal taxes under a “married” status, and enjoy the tax benefits all married couples enjoy, including claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit. These benefits will also extend to gift and estate tax benefits. Additionally, legally married same-sex couples may amend their past tax returns, in accordance with IRS regulations, to file under a married status.
Also, legally married same-sex couples will be able to take advantage of the Social Security retirement spousal benefit. This benefit is a benefit for a non-earning or lower-earning spouse that allows him or her to collect an amount that is equal to half of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit. People are only eligible for a spousal benefit when their own benefit is less than half of their retired spouse’s benefit, or when they seek to delay their own application for Social Security benefits based on their own work record.
Additionally, spouses of federal employees will now be eligible to participate in the employee’s health plan, and other federal employee benefits.
Another practical reality of these evolving federal regulations, is divorcing same-sex couples will also have these benefits. Divorcing couples can now take advantage of tax benefits in property distribution, including division of pensions pursuant to Qualified Domestic Relation Orders (or QDROs), which was not previously available to them. If a divorcing spouse is a federal employee, the other spouse may remain on the employee’s health and other benefits.
Divorced spouses will also receive benefits through Social Security. This will apply to divorced spouses, who were married for at least 10 years prior to divorce. Any widow or widower of a deceased spouse is entitled to receive that deceased spouse’s basic Social Security benefit amount when the widow or widower reaches full retirement age. Thus, if a couple is married 10 years or more, and then one spouse dies, the surviving spouse will be entitled to receive the deceased spouse’s full social security benefits, as long as the surviving spouse never remarried.
Although these regulations continue to evolve, it is clear that legally married same-sex spouses are equal with legally married opposite-sex spouses in the eyes of the federal government. Same-sex couples, whether soon to be married, already married, or already divorced, should review these new regulations to see what they may now take advantage of.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a great test for a marriage and the couple’s ability to compromise on what will likely be recurring themes in the relationship. Relationships, like a prenuptial agreement, are full of compromise and negotiation. Two people entering into a marriage need to know how to have the difficult conversations and find fair and reasonable compromises.
A prenuptial agreement is a good way to start the relationship with full disclosure and open communication about these likely and potential issues that will continue throughout the relationship. Entering the marriage with knowledge instead of unrealistic expectations and an arsenal of tools developed before conflict arises will help a marriage weather the minor disagreements and difficult times that all relationships face.
There are a few key reasons that couples embarking on marriage typically consider getting a prenuptial agreement, 1) pressure from the family of the wealthier partner, 2) protection for children from previous relationships, 3) a large wealth and/or income disparity, and 4) protection of a particular asset. These reasons and concerns do not magically disappear after the wedding only to reappear at a divorce, but will probably be the root of reoccurring issues throughout the marriage.
If future in-laws are the driving force between a coercive and one-sided agreement, the couple will likely be dealing with other manifestations of parental pressure throughout the relationship. The couple can start developing a method to cope with the parental influence by working together to create provisions in the prenuptial agreement that protect the less wealthy spouse as well as the parents’ asset. The will set a precedent both for conflict resolution within the marriage and for how the parental expectations will be met and not always complied with in the future.
The same is true if the pressure comes from business partners, an ex-spouse, other influential people in your partners’ life, or even if he or she comes up with idea on his or her own. How your partner approaches the issues when the relationship is strong does not necessarily foreshadow how he or she will behave if there are financial disputes in the relationship or if the relationship breaks down, but it may be a good indicator. If your partner cannot balance your interests with those of other influential forces in his or her life it may be a warning sign of his or her behavior during the marriage
Accidents resulting in personal injuries are a common occurrence in our daily lives. In addition to auto accidents, we may suffer personal injuries or property damage in accidents in the home, at business premises, or on streets and sidewalks. Injuries may also be caused by carelessness of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. You can protect yourself by consulting a lawyer if you suffer an injury or property damage as a result of an accident.
EVALUATING YOUR CLAIM
To determine whether you have a claim, your lawyer will consider whether another person’s conduct wrongfully caused your loss. There are three kinds of wrongful conduct - negligence, intentional misconduct, and strict liability.
Negligence is the most common basis for recovery of losses from an accident. The law holds individuals responsible for their own carelessness. For example, drivers who neglect to stop for stop signs or doctors who fail to follow established medical procedures.
Recovery for intentional misconduct may result if someone has deliberately hurt you or your property. For example, if someone has deliberately hit you without your permission, detained you against your will, or made false statements that injure your reputation.
Individuals and companies may be responsible for damages on the basis of strict liability if they have engaged in dangerous activity, such as conducting blasting operations or keeping wild animals as pets, or if they have manufactured a defective or dangerous product.
WHAT IS YOUR INJURY WORTH
Your lawyer can help put a dollar value on your injury. You are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of repairing your property. You are also entitled to compensation for any pain, disfigurement, physical handicap, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, mental distress, emotional pain, and other psychological injuries.
FINDING SOURCES OF COMPENSATION
The time, effort and expense of a lawsuit are not ordinarily worthwhile if the person responsible for your injury does not have sufficient assets to pay for your damages. Your lawyer can help you determine what assets or insurance are available to compensate you. You can bring an action against all those who caused your injury. For example, if a negligent person injures you in the course of working for someone else, that employer is often responsible as well. Other parties potentially responsible for an auto accident may include the owner of a vehicle driven by someone else or even governmental authorities, if defective conditions contributed to the accident.
PRELIMINARY INTERVIEW AND INVESTIGATION
Your lawyer will carefully interview you to learn the facts of the accident, who is responsible, the extent of your injuries and the amount of your loss. After the initial interview, your lawyer will obtain medical records, interview witnesses, obtain police reports, and other information to help prove your claim.
FILING A LAWSUIT
Your lawyer may be able to settle your claim and obtain compensation for you without a lawsuit.
Your claim may also be settled after a lawsuit is filed, or even after a trial. If a lawsuit is necessary, your lawyer will prepare the documents necessary to file your claim with the court and gather the evidence needed to prove your claim at trial. The process of gathering evidence is called discovery. It ordinarily includes the exchange of relevant documents, the answering of written questions known as interrogatories and orally questioning witnesses under oath before trial in depositions. The pretrial discovery process can take many months to complete depending on the complexity of your claim.
If not settled, your case will go to trial after the completion of pretrial discovery. It may take many months or years to set a trail date depending on the court where your lawsuit is filed. Most cases may be decided by a judge if it is required by statute or agreed to by the parties to the lawsuit.
PRESERVING THE EVIDENCE
Your claim is only as good as the evidence that supports it. When an injury occurs, you should take notes on the circumstances of the accident, including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses, doctors, and other medical care providers who treated you. Your lawyer needs this information to determine whether you can provide your claim.
It is often useful to photograph or videotape the evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries and the damage to your property. Photographs should be taken of your bruises, stitches or other visible signs of injury. In the case of an auto accident, the vehicle should be photographed before any repairs are made. After a fire in your home, take pictures of the damage. You can help establish the date of the photos by keeping notes and having someone witness the taking of the photos. These photos can provide valuable support for your claim.
Preservation of evidence is essential to the successful resolution of your claim. If the evidence is lost or destroyed it will be difficult to prove your case at trial. The evidence should be stored in a secure place where it will not be damaged. If the claim involves a defective product, retain, if available, the packaging and instruction booklet as well as the actual product that caused the injury.
Your lawyer may recommend that you keep a daily log of the medical and financial consequences of your injury. In your log, you can keep a record of hospital stays, doctor visits, medical treatments, healing progress, medical bills, time lost from work, lost earnings, and expenses incurred.
Under the law, others may be responsible for your injuries. In the event of such an injury, consult a lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly to preserve your rights to compensation from those who caused your injuries. Any injuries that you receive should be referred to your lawyer. Your lawyer will estimate the value of your claim and help you collect fair compensation for injuries and damage to your property.
COMMON NEGLIGENCE LAWSUIT
We, at Amaral & Associates, P.C., can assist you with your personal injury needs. Please contact us at (617) 539-1010 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.Check out our website at www.amarallaw.com.
In recent years, living trusts have grown increasingly popular as substitutes for wills in estate planning. They are sometimes called revocable trusts or inter-vivos trusts. Living trusts can have several advantages over wills, including avoiding probate, avoiding guardianship, maintaining liquidity, and keeping privacy.
You can create a living trust with a simple trust document and change it at any time. You can transfer all of your assets to the trust but continue to use and manage them during your lifetime. After you die, your trustee will transfer ownership of the assets to the beneficiaries named in the trust.
An important benefit of living trusts is the speed with which your property can be transferred to your heirs after your death. In addition, a living trust is private. Only you, your trustee, and your beneficiaries will know the value of the trust property, how it is to be distributed and the names of your beneficiaries.
At Amaral & Associates, P.C., we can help you decide whether a living trust is appropriate in your circumstances and prepare a trust document that meets your goals.
USING A LIVING TRUST
Most people understand the importance of a will, but many are not familiar with trusts. Both a will and a trust can be used to transfer your property when you die, but the similarity ends there. A will has no effect until you die, while a living trust becomes operative during your lifetime to manage your assets. While a will is a part of the public record a trust is not, thus providing greater privacy. Trusts are usually easier to amend than wills and less likely to be contested by your heirs.
You can use a living trust to make decisions about your old age care. The trust can specify your preference for care by your family or in a nursing home. If you become disabled or incompetent, your trust will control who will care for you and how your money will be managed. Without a living trust, a court might need to appoint a guardian if you become incapacitated. As with probate, guardianship proceedings can be costly and time consuming. A living trust provides a way to avoid legal proceedings to appoint a guardian.
A living trust may also help you in a variety of other circumstances. For example, you can use a management feature of living trusts to appoint a professional trustee for the elderly, for inexperienced persons who have recently inherited wealth, and for minors. Living trusts are also useful for those lacking time to manage their property, such as entertainers, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals.
If you own real estate in more than one state a living trust can help avoid probate in each state. Probate in multiple states increases the cost and time to distribute your property to your heirs.
CREATING A LIVING TRUST
Your lawyer can prepare a living trust agreement that appoints a trustee to manage your property for your beneficiaries. To maintain control, you can be your own trustee. Commonly, the person creating the living trust is the first beneficiary while other provisions transfer the property to their heirs upon death. The trust agreement will provide details on your rights to change the trust, the duties of the trustee, how to distribute your property, how to provide for your family, and when and how to select a successor trustee.
You can cancel or change any of the provisions of your trust document, including the beneficiaries, the property they are to receive, and the trustee. You should review your trust every year to assure that it still meets your needs. Your lawyer can advise you about the legal and tax effects of your proposed changes and prepare a document that will accomplish those changes.
CHOOSING A TRUSTEE
As noted above, you can serve as your own trustee or you can appoint a professional trustee such as a bank or trust company. Most people appoint an individual such as their spouse, a relative, a friend, their lawyer or other advisor to serve as successor trustee. When deciding whom to select as trustees, you should consider whether they are worthy of your trust and are willing to accept the job.
A professional trustee may be the best choice if your property will be difficult to manage or distribute. The disadvantages of professional trustees are that they are impersonal and charge annual fees ranging up to two percent of the value of the trust assets. Furthermore, many professional trustees are unwilling to serve if the value of the trust assets is less than $100,000.
The trust document will describe the duties of the trustee to manage the trust property, keep records, prepare tax returns, and make distributions to the beneficiaries. The trust document can also designate a successor trustee or provide instructions on how to select the successor.
TRANSFERRING PROPERTY TO YOUR TRUST
After creating your trust, you must complete the formality of transferring your property to the trust. For example, instruct your broker to transfer your stocks and bonds into the name of the trust. Tell your insurance agent to assign your life insurance policies to the trust. Deeds transferring your real estate should be prepared and recorded in every county where you own real estate.
Although your living trust can help you to avoid probate for some of your property, you may still need a will. It may inconvenient to transfer certain property, such as your car or your personal checking account to a trust. Such a transfer could make it difficult to insure your car; it might be harder to obtain credit if your checking account is not kept in your name.
A will may still be needed even if you transfer all of your property to a trust. A will is needed to appoint a guardian for your minor children. A will is also needed for assets that you acquire after the creation of the trust or may have neglected to transfer to your trust, such as furniture, clothing and jewelry. The will can have a “pour-over” provision to transfer your property to the trust when you die. Such a “pour-over” provision will cause your property to be distributed according to the terms of your trust.
You can use a living trust to choose the state for administering your estate. The state for your trust can be different from the state where you reside. This can enable you to select a state that has laws that are most favorable to you for income tax and inheritance tax purposes.
For tax purposes, the trust property is treated as if you remained the owner. You will report income from the trust on your federal income tax return until your death. However, the creation and funding of a living trust does not have any federal gift tax consequences. A trust can be used to avoid estate taxes. Your lawyer can help you to design a trust that provides the most favorable tax treatment for you and your heirs.
Living trusts have many advantages in estate planning. Unlike wills, living trusts do not require lengthy and costly probate proceedings. Your property and heirs will not be listed in public records in a courthouse. And your property can be transferred to your heirs almost immediately after your death. The advantage of the living trust must be weighed against the expense and effort of creating and administering the trust.
Ask your lawyer whether a living trust is the right estate planning tool for you. Your lawyer can carefully draft a trust document to meet your needs and objectives and help you to reduce taxes for yourself and your heirs. Your lawyer can also help you prepare other estate planning documents, such as a will, a durable power of attorney, and a health care proxy.
LIVING TRUST CHECKLIST
(1) BENEFITS OF LIVING TRUST
For additional information contact us today at 1(800)290-1012 or at email@example.com visit our new website, www.amarallaw.com.
Auto accidents can happen to anyone. You can protect your legal rights by doing the right thing after an accident occurs. Here are some of the steps you should take if you are involved in an accident:
STOPPING YOUR CAR
If your car is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. Leave your car as close as possible to the place of impact without obstructing traffic. After stopping, remain at the scene of the accident, protect the scene, report to the police and gather information.
AIDING THE INJURED
If someone is injured, give first aid if you are qualified and call for an ambulance. Remember to note the location of the accident before you call for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance dispatcher the name and number of the street as well as the direction in which the cars were traveling at the time of the accident.
PROTECTING THE SCENE
Protect the scene of the accident to avoid additional collisions. Do not allow your car to obstruct the road if it can be moved. Warn approaching cars by raising the hood of your car and using your car’s hazard warning lights. In addition, for night time accidents, place flares or reflectors on the road.
CALLING THE POLICE
Call the police, particularly if someone has been injured. A police report of the accident will help your insurance claim and any liability claims. Ask the officer how to get a copy of the accident report and note the officer’s name and badge number. If you receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident. Be aware that you may hurt your claim for damages from the other driver if you plead guilty. Consult your lawyer and insurance agent before pleading guilty to any traffic offense.
EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH THE OTHER DRIVER
Exchange information with the driver of the other car. You should get the following information:
DO NOT ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY
When you exchange information with the other driver and give facts to the police, don’t admit responsibility for the accident. Things that you say can be used against you if there is litigation. You may think that you were responsible for the accident and later learn that the other driver caused it or that the other driver was equally at fault.
TOWING YOUR CAR
Before you allow a tow truck driver to pick up your car, be sure to ask the driver how much it will cost and tell the driver where to take your car. Get the name, address and telephone number of the driver and the towing company.
FILING AN ACCIDENT REPORT
In most states, you must file an accident report with state department of public safety or department of motor vehicles. The report must be filed within a few days of the accident if there were personal injuries or if the damage to property exceeded a minimum amount, say $50. Failure to file an accident report may result in a fine and loss of your driver’s license. You should be able to get an accident report form from your local police or insurance agent. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
SEEING YOUR DOCTOR
Both you and your passenger should consider seeing a doctor immediately after an accident. The doctor may recognize injuries, sometimes serious , that are not apparent to you. The charges for a doctor visit and medical treatment may be covered by your insurance. Don’t settle claims from the accident until your doctor has advised you about the extent of your injuries.
NOTIFYING YOUR AGENT
Call your insurance agent as soon as possible after an accident. Your insurance company may have grounds to deny coverage if you fail to give prompt notice of the accident. Follow up the phone call with a written notice and save a copy for your files. The written notice should contain information about the date, time and place of the accident, with names and addresses of the other drivers, injured persons, passengers, and witnesses. If you were at fault, your liability insurance should pay for any injuries or property damages. If the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, your insurance may pay for damages to your car (collision coverage), your medical expenses (medical payment coverage) and even for your pain and suffering (if you have uninsured motorist coverage).
Some states have adopted "no-fault" insurance laws. If you live in a no-fault state, your insurance policy will cover your losses from a minor accident regardless of whether you caused it. The losses covered by no-fault insurance usually include medical expenses and lost earnings. No-fault insurance does not protect you for major accidents since the amount of coverage is limited to a few thousand dollars in most states with no-fault insurance laws.
CALLING YOUR LAWYER
If you have been involved in an accident, or if you have received a traffic ticket, your lawyer can advise you about your rights and responsibilities. The sooner you call your lawyer the better since witnesses may forget the details of the accident. Your lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions from insurance adjusters and help you recover compensation for your personal injuries and damages to your car.
ACCIDENT INFORMATION FORM
1. THE OTHER DRIVER AND VEHICLE:
Name, address, telephone________________________________________________
Driver’s License no._____________________________________________________
Vehicle license plate no.__________________________________________________
Vehicle make, model, and year____________________________________________
2. NAME, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NO. OF PASSENGER IN OTHER VEHICLE:
Name, address, telephone_______________________________________________
Name, address, telephone_______________________________________________
3. OTHER INFORMATION
Date and time of accident______________________________________________
Location of accident__________________________________________________
Were your or other vehicle’s headlights on?________________________________
Were you or other driver signaling a turn?__________________________________
Length of your vehicle’s skid marks______________________________________
Name, badge no. of police officer _______________________________________
Use the space below to diagram the path of the vehicles before the accident and their position after the accident. Use a solid line to show the path of the vehicles. Show any stop signs, traffic signals, or street lights.
Many people do not want to even begin thinking about “what happens when…,” but it is very important for you and your loved ones that you take the time to make a will so that there are no unanswered questions after you are gone.
Making a will may seem like a daunting task and you may not even know where to begin, but here are some steps to help you begin the process.
1. Take an inventory of your assets and liabilities. Take into consideration important tangible assets such as real estate, vehicles, and valuable jewelry and artwork, as well as intangible assets such as investments and life insurance policies. Having such a list will enable you to have a better idea of what your estate looks like and how you may want it distributed once you have passed.
2. Choose a personal representative. An executor, now known as a personal representative, is the individual who will implement the instructions that you set forth in your will. It is thus of the utmost importance that this individual is very reliable and will be available when their assistance becomes necessary. Often, individuals select their spouse as the personal representative of their will and provide an alternate individual in case their spouse predeceases them or is unable to act as a personal representative for any reason. Additionally, many people opt to have their attorney act as their personal representative, so as to ensure that an experienced mind handles the proceedings. Once you have chosen your personal representative, it is very important to let them know that you are naming them as such and to keep them updated if and when your will changes.
3. Make a list of beneficiaries. These individuals are those who will benefit from the distribution of your assets. More often than not they include family, friends, and charities. If you choose to leave all of your assets to one individual, you will need to come up with alternative beneficiaries, in the event that that individual predeceases you. This is a matter that can be discussed with your attorney.
4. Name guardians if you have minor children. Choosing your children’s guardians is a very important step and for individuals with children, probably the most important and hardest choice in the will writing process. To help you make the choice, keep in mind the following:
· Financial capability of the guardian to provide for your children
· Location of the guardian
· Age of the guardian
· How the religious beliefs of the guardian align with you and your spouse
· Time the guardian will have to give to your children
It is important when reviewing your will that you also reevaluate who you have chosen as guardians. As time goes on, your guardians may have a growing family, making it less likely that they will be able to care for your children, or they may have moved far away, which may not be good for your children’s transition in the event of your passing. By continuously reevaluating, you can ensure that the future needs of your children are always taken care of.
5. Meet with your attorney. With all of this information gathered, a meeting with your attorney will now be less daunting and allow you to have the time to ask whatever questions you may have.
For additional information regarding the preparation of your will or other highly recommended estate planning docs, such as your health care proxy, power of attorney and living trust, contact us today at 1(800)290-1012 or at firstname.lastname@example.org visit our new website, www.amarallaw.com, where you can fill out an online intake form for the above.
Thinking about dying is not pleasant for anyone, however, planning for the future is crucial for everyone. Having a qualified attorney prepare your estate planning documents, such as your will, health care proxy (or living will), power of attorney or trust, is the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
The attorneys at Amaral & Associates, P.C. can effectively handle all of your estate planning needs. Our office works on such matters as wills, trusts, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney.
For many people, falling in love and preparing for marriage is a process that is so wonderful that they lose sight of the harsh reality that anything can happen and marriages often end. Therefore, the idea of a Pre-Nup is many times not spoken of, as it implies that there is a possibility that the soon to be marriage could potentially result in divorce one day. If you have assets, it is in your best interest to have a Pre-Nup prepared, but initiating a conversation with your spouse regarding the same is not always easy. The following are a few tips to assist you in asking your spouse for a Pre-Nup, while decreasing the chances of bringing turbulence to your relationship:
Bring it up in the Beginning
If possible, at the beginning of any relationship, make it known that you intend to sign a Pre-Nup with whomever you marry. Your soon to be spouse will be aware and prepared for the conversation, eliminating any shock or personal concerns that you doubt the marriage will last.
Use Good Timing
If you are already engaged and you haven’t discussed your desire for a Pre-Nup, choose your timing wisely. Avoid having the discussion during or close to any time of celebration, as you do not want to ruin the mood. Try to have the conversation much earlier than your wedding day.
Be Informative and Prepared
Make sure that you illustrate to your spouse that you will make sure that he or she is taken care of in the event of a split. Be prepared by knowing what you are going to give and what you are asking for, and explain the reasoning to your spouse in a way that he or she can relate to. Both parties can benefit from the
Pre-Nup if it is negotiated fairly.
Concern for the Children
Asking for a Pre-Nup is easier if either of you have children from a previous marriage. Anyone can understand the need to protect the assets that your children are entitled to.
For more information, contact us at 1(800)290-1012 or at email@example.com.
APPOINTING AN EXECUTOR
You should appoint an executor in your will. An executor locates heirs, lists property, pays debts, and distributes property to your heirs. A relative or friend can serve as your executor, but you should consider using a professional executor (such as a bank or trust company) if you have a large or complicated estate. An executor should be someone who is familiar with managing property, financial matters, and record-keeping. Before naming an executor, confirm that the person is willing to serve. Your lawyers can help you select the best executor. As noted above, your will can state that the executor is not required to furnish a bond, thus saving your estate this expense.
APPOINTING A GUARDIAN
If you have children under 18, you should appoint a guardian in your will. Otherwise, if you and your spouse die at the same time without such an appointment, a court will select a guardian to care for your children and manage their inheritance until they become adults. You can create a trust to control the property transferred to your children. A trust is useful if you are concerned that the children may lack the maturity to handle their inheritance after age 18. Your lawyer can help you to select a guardian and create a trust in your will that protects your children and your wishes.
KEEPING YOUR WILL IN A SAFE PLACE
Your will should be kept in a safe place so that it can be promptly located when you die. You may wish to have your lawyer keep the original to protect it from damage or loss. Although you are not required to give your executor a copy of the will, you should tell both your executor and a trusted family member where your will is stored.
In addition to ordinary wills that state your wishes for your property when you die, the laws of some states permit “living wills” that instruct your doctors to withhold life support equipment while you are alive. A living will is important if you become comatose with no hope of regaining consciousness. Your “living wills” should be written in a document separate from your ordinary will and you should re-sign and re-date it every few years to comply with your state law and to reaffirm your preferences. Give a copy of your “living will” to your doctors and to a close family member. Your lawyer can help you write a “living will” and advise you about re-signing it every few years to keep it valid.
MAKING YOUR FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS
You can include instructions for your funeral arrangements in your will. However, you may wish to put these instructions in a separate letter. Give a copy of the instructions to your executor or a family member or friend to avoid delays when you die. You can also include instructions about gifts of your body organs to hospitals for research or transplants. Such instructions for gifts of body organs can be noted on your driver’s license or a separate donor card that you can carry in your wallet.
REDUCING THE TAXES ON YOUR ESTATE
Federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes may be deducted from your property before it is transferred to your heirs. A federal estate tax applies if the value of your property exceeds an exempt amount that varies depending on the year of your death. Following is a table of the exempt amount:
Year of Death Exempt Amount
2002-2003 $1.0 million
2004-2005 $1.5 million
2006-2008 $2.0 million
2009 $3.5 million
2010 No estate Tax
2011 and after, $1 million, unless Congress extends the repeal of estate taxes.
A special $1.3 million exclusion applies to estates that hold investments in family businesses and farms. Your lawyer can help you prepare an estate plan that will reduce federal and state taxes. For example, your lawyer may suggest that you make gifts before you die to reduce taxes, hold property in joint tenancy with your spouse, transfer ownership of life insurance policies to your spouse or heirs, or use a trust arrangement. Your lawyer can also help you shift the tax responsibility among heirs if you would like some of them to receive their shares without being taxed on it.
REDUCING PROBATE COSTS
Probate costs include court fees, bond premiums and the fees of professionals who assist your executor with the administration of your estate. Your lawyer can help you reduce probate costs with estate planning tools like joint ownership, living trusts, lifetime gifts, and business recapitalizations. For example, your lawyer can prepare a living trust in which you appoint a trustee to distribute your property when you die. Some estate planning tools can help you reduce probate costs, but they may not lower your estate taxes.
PREPARING YOUR WILL WITH A LAWYER
Your lawyer can help you draft your will and explain the tax consequences. Your lawyer can also help you comply with the detailed requirements for a valid will, see that your property is distributed as you wish, and reduce estate taxes and probate costs. The legal fees are usually well spent and often less than the added costs and taxes that would result from dying without a will.
You should have a will if you own any property-a home, a car, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement benefits, jewelry, clothing, household goods, and so on. A will lets you distribute your property as you want with a minimum of costs and taxes. It is an opportunity to select an executor for your estate, a guardian for your children, establish trusts and dispense with costly bonds. If you don’t have a will, ask your lawyer about drafting one without delay.
CHECK LIST FOR WILLS
(1) ESTATE PLANNING TOOLS
B. Joint tenancy
C. Living trusts
D. Lifetime gifts
E. Business recapitalization
(2) SELECTING YOUR HEIRS
D. Other relatives
F. Charitable organizations
(3) IDENTIFYING YOUR DEBTS AND LIABILITIES
A. Credit cards
C. Home mortgages
(4) LISTING YOUR PROPERTY AND THE HEIRS TO RECEIVE IT
A. Automobiles and boats
B. Bank accounts
C. Computers and electronic equipment
D. Home and household goods
G. Rental property
H. Stocks and bonds
(5) APPOINTING AN EXECUTOR FOR YOUR ESTATE
(6) NAMING A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR CHILDREN
(7) CREATING TRUSTS FOR ALL OR A PART OF YOUR PROPERTY
(8) ALLOCATING TAXES AMONG YOUR HEIRS
(9) PROVIDING FOR FORCED HEIRS
(10) DISINHERITING UNWANTED HEIRS
(11) COORDINATING WITH THE WILL OF YOUR SPOUSE
(12) DIRECTIVE TO DOCTORS TO WITHHOLD LIFE SUPPORT (“LIVING WILL”)
For additional information contact us today at 1(800)290-1012 or at firstname.lastname@example.org visit our new website, www.amarallaw.com.
The key to life after divorce is to follow a post-divorce plan. With so many things affecting your life during and after your divorce, a plan can bring a lot of comfort and needed stability to your life and help you to move more positively into the future. There will inevitably be many things that you cannot control as much as you would like to during this process, so it is important to take hold of those things which you can control and use them to surround yourself with calm during the storm. Just like your children will need predictability, comfort, and safety in order to function most efficiently and effectively, so too is it important to create such an environment for yourself as you embark on this new life after divorce.
1. Is a divorce mediator for you? An experienced divorce mediator, who is also a lawyer, can help to keep the peace if you and your spouse are entering divorce on cordial terms and with similar goals for the future. By allowing the divorce process to take place in a collaborative instead of adversarial manner, you can avoid a situation that places you against your spouse, in a negative way. You can even get divorced online through companies such as OnlineDivorceMediation.Com, so that your divorce is as non-confrontational as possible, which truly serves the best interest of your children.
2. Redefine your relationship with your Ex. While you may no longer be husband and wife, you are still parents to your children and a family unit and you need to be allies in this cause. Your children will be experiencing anxiety as it is, so it’s important that they know their parents are still there for them in a strong and collaborative way. You need to set rules and boundaries that will allow you to form a parenting partnership, for this is the healthiest way to move forward.
3. Write it down. Everything is clearer when in print. When things are written down there is no room for he said, she said. The same is true with a parenting plan. It is important that you and your Ex formally write down how you will handle situations with your children, so that even if tensions may heat up between the two of you, your children will not have to bear the consequences. You want to show your children that you can still work as a team when it comes to matters dealing with their well-being. Additionally, it is to your benefit to write everything down that has to do with your divorce agreement, no matter how cordial things may be now, because things do change. You need to have a plan to follow when one spouse does not hold up their end of the bargain or if a situation comes up that had not been previously addressed.
4. Let yourself grieve. Whether you were married for one year or twenty, you gave a part of yourself to your spouse when you said, “I do,” and created a life together. When you get divorced, you are losing a close friend and loved one and it will take time to mourn this loss, even if you were in favor of the divorce.
5. Find your voice. It is very important for you to find you voice and get your emotional strength back for yourself and for your children. A helpful way to find your voice is by keeping a journal. It is a way to clearly outline your thoughts and express things that may not be appropriate to say out loud to your Ex. It is also a great way to track your healing process and reflect on the progress that you are making in redefining your life after divorce.
6. Talk with your children. If your children know there are things they can do to help this transition, it will give them a feeling of empowerment and stability. Talk to them about how they are feeling and what life during and after divorce will look like. Be an example for your children and make sure that they see you as a strong pillar in their life, even if you are not feeling that way. They need the reassurance.
7. Organize your finances. Making sure you understand your finances is a positive way to take charge of your new life. Assess your financial situation; look at your resources to see what your options are in terms of housing, job, and income and expenses.
8. Make new friends. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and in doing so branch out and make new connections. You no longer need to define yourself as half of a couple; it is okay to think of yourself as an individual now.
9. Make a bucket list.Divorce is an opportunity to redefine yourself and to rediscover old interests and find new ones. Stay busy in constructive ways, and think about the things that you may have let go or pushed aside while you were married and allow them back into your life. Create new passions: travel, go back to school, do what makes the new you happy, because when you are happy, you will be a better parent and person.
10. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional support. You’re not the first person to go through this and you surely will not be the last. It is hard to move forward and let go of what once was. It is absolutely okay if you need to talk with a therapist to work through your divorce and positively move forward into the future.
11. Look forward, not backward. Try not to think about your negative issues from your past. More often than not married life is filled with wonderful memories and you should take comfort in them and focus on the positive. Look to the future and begin to develop your new self and begin creating new memories, for it is when you look forward, no matter how hard and long the process may be, that you have the greatest outlook on all that lies before you in your life after divorce.
For additional information contact us today at 1(800)290-1012 or at email@example.com for a free consultation.
›4 3 2
Page 1 of 5
50 records found.