Which is Best: Will, or Living Trust?

living trustPhoto by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

You spend the majority of your adult life working hard and providing for your family. You’ve scrimped and saved, and you’ve accumulated assets over time. Naturally, you want some control over what happens to those assets after you die.

Regardless of how much or how little you have, it’s important to have an estate plan. But should you have a will, or a living trust?

Will

Simply put, a will is a written document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your death. It also allows you to appoint guardianship of your minor-aged children if you die before they reach adulthood. In order to be valid, the document must be signed and witnessed.

Wills are revocable documents, and they can be amended at any point in your lifetime. It gives you control over how your assets will be handled upon your demise. It also gives you the power to disinherit spouses or children (who have a statutory right to inherit), although the laws for this vary from state to state.

Many countries have similar succession laws, although the nuances of these laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, Israeli Succession Law dictates that assets are bequeathed in one of two ways: by will, or by law. If there is no will in place, heirs will be stipulated by law and according to the order of inheritance. Succession laws in the U.S. are very similar in this way.

Several things need to be considered when creating a will, such as:

  • Debts and taxes: These will need to be paid by the estate.
  • Executor: The person in charge of distributing your estate.
  • Assets: All personal property and real property, including homes, vehicles, bank accounts, family heirlooms, etc.
  • Guardian: The person(s) you choose to take care of your minor children and their property in the event that both parents die. An alternative choice should also be provided in case that first person is unable to assume responsibility.
  • Beneficiaries: The people you want to receive your assets.
  • Pet care: The person you would like to take care of your pets as well as funds set aside for the pet’s care.

Laws concerning wills vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to understand your local requirements.

One disadvantage to having a will is that it must pass through probate. This means that the court will have to oversee the will’s administration and ensure that the document is valid. Probate lawyers can be costly, and there’s no way to avoid this expense with the exception of a few jurisdictions.

Wills must also become part of public record, so it’s important to keep this in mind when deciding whether a will or trust is the right choice for you.

Living Trust

Unlike with a will, which only goes into effect after you die, a living trust will go into effect as soon as it’s created. A living trust allows for lifetime and after-death management of your property.

If you choose to serve as your own trustee, you can appoint a successor upon your death or if you become incapacitated.

Living trusts allow you to avoid the inconvenience, cost and time of probate court. Court intervention is not required, and trusts do not have to be public record. Families can avoid probate court and hiring a probate attorney.

When properly written and funded, a living trust can:

  • Control what happens to your property and assets after your death.
  • Avoid probate court.
  • Plan for your own incapacity.
  • Keep your financial affairs private.

Living trusts can be used for any size estate. While trusts are very appealing, they do have a few drawbacks. For starters, it is more expensive to create a living trust than it is to create a will. This is primarily because the trust must be actively managed once it’s created.

Trusts are also useless unless they are funded. They can only control the assets that have been placed into them. Funding is necessary, and it can be tedious. If assets have not been transferred to the trust or if you die without funding it, the trust will be of no benefit to your family. Your estate will be subject to probate, and your family may have to deal with estate tax issues.

Which is the better choice: a will, or a living trust? Ultimately, it comes down to your personal situation. If you have a very modest estate and live in a state where the probate process is not complicated, a will may be a better option. But if you’d rather avoid probate and keep your financial affairs private, you may prefer a living trust. Just be aware that a living trust must be actively managed. If you’re not prepared to do this, then a trust may not be a practical solution for you.

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When Grandparents Want Legal Custody of a Grandchild

The disintegration of a family unit can be heartbreaking, but in many cases it’s in the best interests of everyone involved, most importantly the child.

When a child’s parents are unable or unwilling to take care of them the responsibility often falls to the grandparents, and if taking care of the child is feasible and it’s something that they wish to do, they can apply for a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order, the new legal terms for ‘custody’.

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Children require consistency and stability to thrive and grow into happy, well-rounded individuals so it’s important that any grandparent considering applying for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order takes into account a few considerations before setting things in motion, most notably their health, i.e. how confident they feel that, taking into account their age, they’ll be able to take care of the child until he/she reaches adulthood.

However, if the child’s grandparents feel confident with regard to their age and health and they firmly believe that caring for the child is in his/her best interests, i.e. they can provide a consistent, loving and stable environment for the child to grow up in, they’ll need to seek legal counsel to help them apply for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order.

Parental Responsibility – What Is It and Who Can Apply for It?

Under UK law, mothers have automatic Parental Responsibility for their children and fathers, since 2003, share it whether they’re married or not.

Parental Responsibility is the legal responsibility for the welfare of a child and this is what grandparents seek when they apply for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order.

It’s important to understand that, although grandparents might be caring for a grandchild following a family breakdown, this doesn’t mean they’re automatically given Parental Responsibility for the child’s welfare since the only way it can be awarded to the grandparents is by their successful application for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order.

The Difference between a Residence Order and a Special Guardianship Order

Now that the term ‘custody’ is outdated, grandparents will need to decide if they should apply for a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order.

There are some differences between the two, most notably:

A Residence Order states who the child should live with and who has Parental Responsibility of him/her. When it’s in place, parents and grandparents share Parental Responsibility.

A Special Guardianship Order is a more secure arrangement because unlike a Residence Order, the parents don’t share Parental Responsibility of the child and will need to seek permission from the court to regain it.

In turn, a Special Guardianship Order is less secure than an Adoption Order because it doesn’t legally dissolve the relationship between the child and his/her parents.

Consequently, the most secure arrangement for grandparents seeking to be awarded Parental Responsibility of their grandchild is an Adoption Order which grants the grandparents all Parental Rights and Responsibilities.

However, in most cases this isn’t a requirement and many experts advise against it unless absolutely necessary because it often proves problematic and confusing for the child because his/her grandparents are now his/her legal parents.

The Need for Legal Counsel

There’s a very real need for legal counsel in such cases and grandparents considering applying for a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order must seek legal counsel from a solicitor well-versed in family law.

If they’ve been looking after the child for three years or more obtaining a Residence Order is rendered more straightforward, though they can still apply for one, or to become the child’s ‘Special Guardian’, despite living with and looking after the child for less time.

When the child’s parents don’t contest the grandparents’ decision to look after them the process is generally straightforward when they have a family law solicitor by their side; however, when they object to relinquishing care of the child to the grandparents it may become necessary to provide documentation and evidence to the effect that the child is in danger and that he/she should be removed from their care.

This is naturally very distressing for everyone involved, though naturally the welfare of the child must come first and to do that experienced legal counsel must be sought.

Author: Tegan Rowley is working on a freelance basis for a company that boasts of being more than just a law firm. Hanne & Co Solicitor Services strives to provide the same level of client care to all who transact with them.

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Photostock – FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Filing for Bankruptcy

Are you in financial trouble? Does it feel like the bills will never stop? Do you struggle to make payments and deal with bill collectors? If yes, you might find that filing for bankruptcy is the best option for you at this point.

bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can be a scary and overwhelming process especially if you don’t know anyone who has done it before. In fact, most people don’t openly talk about bankruptcy, so even if you know someone who has gone through it, they might not be willing to talk about it. Because of this, it’s important to speak with an Omaha bankruptcy lawyer who can guide you through the process of filing for bankruptcy.

Your lawyer can advise you on the best way to file. He’ll also talk you through the paperwork, explain the entire process and offer advice for helping it go more smoothly. Don’t forget to be completely up front with your lawyer about your debt. After all, your lawyer can only help you if he knows all of the details. Make sure you explain openly what your financial situation is and what led you to the option of bankruptcy.

Your lawyer may recommend that you go ahead and file but if your situation seems to have an “out,” there is always the chance that your lawyer may recommend another path. Make sure you bring all of your paperwork and financial statements to your meeting with your lawyer so he can see everything firsthand.

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Grant Cochrane – FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Rightfully Claim Disability Insurance with a Good Disability Lawyer

People say that the only thing constant in this world is change. That can never be truer. Change can be good, but at the same time, it can be bad. A case in point is when a person who used to work and provide for his family suddenly suffers from a debilitating illness or injury. The worst-case scenario is disability, which could render the person incapable of doing what the things he used to do. Try to imagine how hard it can be for someone to shift from being a provider to a dependent. Indeed, disability can suddenly turn the tables around. One who used to provide for his family can instantly become needy of his family’s support.

disability insurance claim

While such is always a sad case, there is actually an upside to it. That’s because persons with disabilities are actually entitled to a special kind of insurance. This type of insurance assures that when a person is sidetracked by disability, he would be entitled to benefits. It doesn’t matter if the disability is short-term or long-term. When such is filed, a person may be entitled to paid sick leave, compensation, and other benefits.

Of course, there are many variables to consider when claiming disability insurance. For instance, it needs to be established whether the injury or disability was incurred while the person was working. If you want to find out more about these, you could contact companies such as www.disabilitylawyer.com to help you out. Considering the variables is very important, as these would determine what the insurance will cover and how long the coverage period would be.

Sadly, some people are denied of their benefits when it comes to claiming disability insurance. This is preposterous considering that what you’re trying to claim came from taxes that were deducted from your paycheck when you were still working. This type of claim is actually an entitlement. You will not be claiming this as a favor. That’s why seeking the help of a disability lawyer is important so he can walk you through the process of making an appeal to make sure that you got all bases covered. Remember, you are just claiming what is rightfully yours.

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David Castillo – Free Digital Photos.Net

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Discover the Hidden Financial Costs of Making a Claim

Compensation is a means by which some measure of justice can be obtained for a person who has been injured by the negligence of another. But when thinking about the concept of compensation, most people only think in terms of how much should be payable for the pain and suffering that the injury causes, as well as any potential loss of earnings that the injured party might suffer. In practice, there is more to compensation than this and it is important that other financial considerations are taken into account when thinking about making a claim.

personal injury solicitor

A good personal claims solicitor will be able to estimate how much money may be awarded for a particular accident, purely because the English courts treat similar cases in a like manner. This means that in cases where the facts are similar, the decision and the award are likely to be similar. Such compensation payments can range from a few hundred pounds for a simple slip that causes a slight injury, to many millions payable to someone who has suffered a serious illness or injury. Though cases may be similar, the amount of compensation awarded always hinges on the facts and circumstances of the case in hand.

Hidden costs

The injured party may wish to claim for other expenses or losses and these amounts can vary from case to case. Loss of earnings, for example, may be greater for one person than for another, depending on their salaries. Another cost that is not always immediately thought of is private medical treatment, such as osteopathy or acupuncture, which may not be available on the NHS.

Other costs that may not be considered as relevant but that can be reimbursed or added to the compensation award include extra travel expenses. Someone who has been injured may find himself unable to drive for a while and may need to use taxis or public transport. If these costs are incurred as a direct result of the injury sustained, then they may be recovered form the culpable party. The claimant might even receive damages for somewhat extraneous expenses, such as childcare.

How to claim back expenditure

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you should speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible after the incident. Even if you do not think that you will get a great sum of money, at least in terms of compensation, you should be reimbursed for all reasonable costs incurred in dealing with the fallout of the accident. Compensation is not supposed to be a reward for being injured, but it can serve to ensure that the innocent victim is not left out of pocket, thereby truly adding insult to injury. Compensation is often the only adequate remedy provided by the law, which cannot undo the claimant’s injuries. It is important that all receipts of the expenditure are kept, as this will help in proving your claim to the court and will help ensure that you recover all reasonable expenses.

This guest post has been created by Hughes Carlisle solicitors, http://www.hughescarlisle.com, who help give an honest insight into the financial costs which are associated with law.

Image Credit:
Renjith Krishnan – Free Digital Photos.Net

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