There are very few of us that have the wealth of Gates or Buffet, so our estate planning will probably be vastly different from theirs. In fact Bill Gates is giving most of his fortune away to charity. However, just because you may not have amassed the kind of fortune these two will leave behind, doesn’t mean that your estate planning is less important or less complicated or that you aren’t worth being scammed.
A few estate planning terms you should be familiar with:
- Probate: When an executor files a will with the Register of Wills at the courthouse to make sure it is valid. All wills must be probated.
- Trust: An agreement to hold legal title to property by a person for the benefit of himself or another.
- Living Trust: A trust created for the trustor (you) and administered by you or another person during the trustor’s lifetime and used to distribute property after your death. The trust can be revocable (you can remove some or all the property from the trust) or irrevocable (you cannot cancel the trust and can receive only the funds or property allowed by the trust agreement).
- Beneficiary: The recipient of funds, property or other benefits from an insurance policy, trust or will.
- Trustee: One that holds legal title to property in a trust in order to administer it for a beneficiary.
- Will: A legal declaration of how a person wishes his or her possessions to be disposed of after death.
Tips to Avoid Estate Planning Fraud
- First and foremost, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t assume that because your estate isn’t huge that people won’t bother trying to scam you.
- If you are feeling pressured to sign something, this should send up a red flag not sign it.
- If you don’t understand what you’re signing, absolutely do not sign it.
- When you’re not dealing with an attorney for your estate planning, you shouldn’t get any push back if you ask to take your paper work to an estate planning attorney for review
Errors in Estate Planning
According to Forbes contributing author, Rob Clarfeld, there are several mistakes commonly made when
planning your estate.
1. Straight up not having a plan at all. This allows intestacy laws to prevail upon your death.
2. A DIY will or trust is a uniquely bad idea. If you are not a family law attorney, you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing and these generic forms aren’t going to put your wishes in a
well thought out and organized plan that reflects your unique set of circumstances.
3. Not reviewing beneficiary designations and the proper titling of accounts.
4. Failure to consider the estate and gift tax consequences of life insurance.
5. Not maximizing annual gifting limits.
Really it doesn’t matter how little or how large your estate is or you hope for it to be, estate planning is essential. It’s a confusing process, requires much advice from knowledgeable individuals. The attorneys at Knight and Moskow are very familiar with Family Law in Pennsylvania. We can create an estate plan that reflects your desires upon your passing. We’re knowledgeable about how to protect your assets from some taxes. We can advise you how to accomplish exactly what you want after you’re no longer here to do it yourself. Contact us to put an estate plan into action.