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Conway Estate Planning Blog

Revisiting old estate planning documents

Once people have taken the time to put in place all the legal documents associated with their estate plans, many pretty much put the whole issue to bed. That is not a wise move, according to estate planning experts. Arkansas residents need to revisit those plans as their lives change.There are some particular things in an estate plan, too, that bear going over every once in a while.

According to estate planning experts, splitting personal effects equally among beneficiaries may not be the ideal situation. Besides, when a person has a lot of personal items like jewelry, art work or valuable collectibles, it's nearly impossible to divide them equally. Having a talk with loved ones could go a long way to avoiding hurt feelings and fights in the future.

Estate planning faux pas of divorced Arkansas women

Many married women leave the financial aspects of their relationships to their partners. That can pose a real problem if she finds that her marriage is on the skids and she's headed for a divorce. When it comes to estate planning, some divorced Arkansas women may not even know where to begin, if they begin at all and that is probably the number one mistake -- not planning for unforeseen events.

If there are children involved, as a mom, a woman needs to make sure documents are in place regarding the guardianship of any minor children should something happen to her and her former spouse. Leaving this issue at loose ends could only spell further heartache for children. If a woman had a joint will with her former spouse, she definitely should take the time to have a new will drafted which includes her children. 

Trusts can help to prepare for life's unforeseen events

Disasters happen, and being prepared for them can mean the difference between leaving family members more despondent than they would be or having them breathe a collective sigh of relief. One of the ways Arkansas residents can be prepared for unforeseen events is by setting up trusts. A trust will likely round out an all-encompassing estate plan, which could also include a will and power of attorney.

Trusts allow the grantor to leave specific instructions on how assets should be handled. They can identify who gets funds, when and how much. They're especially prudent to set up for minors who will be getting money. Trusts can stipulate at what age a child is to receive trust funds and whether he or she will be doled out in a lump sum or over a period of time.

How to navigate probate in Arkansas

When a loved one dies, there can be some confusion about who inherits property and other assets. The process of settling an estate is called probate and here are some tips on how to navigate probate in Arkansas.

The first thing to do is to write a will so that it will be legally known who your executor will be after death and how you want your assets to be distributed. If you have a will and your estate is worth less than $100,000, you can avoid probate entirely.

Estate planning part of emergency financial kit

There may be times in life that come as a surprise and some of those surprises may put a damper on happy circumstances, but there can be plans put into place to offset unforeseen events. Arkansas residents who are considering estate planning might also want to consider having an emergency kit ready pertaining to finances should life throw them a few curve balls along the way. There are some things that would be wise to have in a financial emergency kit.

Estate records should definitely be a part of one. Estate planning is the highest echelon of planning for a financial emergency since an estate plan speaks to such important issues as incapacity or death. These documents need to be up-to-date and contain current contact information as well. Insurance policies should also be in the mix for obvious reasons.

Important estate planning considerations for your assets

Planning for the future is an important and prudent step, regardless of a person's income level or the size of his or her estate. When moving forward with the process of estate planning, it may be beneficial to consider what will happen to specific valuable assets. This includes what many call hard assets, such as valuable jewelry, collectibles, art and more. 

In Arkansas and elsewhere, assets such as stocks, savings and more liquid assets are usually accounted for in detail in a will, but this is not always the case for hard assets. In fact, many people do not keep a specific inventory of this kind of property. This can lead to complications with beneficiaries and heirs in the future as they are trying to split up property and settle an estate. 

Inter vivos versus testamentary trusts

Estate planning can be a little confusing. For instance, what is the difference between inter vivos and testamentary trusts? For Arkansas residents thinking about writing their estate plans, understanding these distinctions and how they play into planning is essential in maintaining control of the trust -- even, in many respects, after death. Inter vivos trusts are created while the grantor is alive and is not necessarily governed by a will, while a testamentary trust is one whose directives are included in and are a part of the will of a decedent.

Whether a trust is created while a person is still living or after he or she has died, the rationale is usually the same -- to manage their assets and to leave loved ones with as little stress as possible. When it comes to inter vivos trusts, they're usually established by a grantor to exclude property from their estate for either probate or tax purposes, or both. When many assets are in question, which a grantor thinks may cause family bickering, he or she may wish to utilize a testamentary trust.

Avoiding some pitfalls when estate planning in Arkansas

Getting personal effects in order is no easy feat for many. Estate planning can be time-consuming, confusing and complex, and that is why it's important to get all ducks in a row at the get-go to prevent hardship for loved ones when the time comes to settle the estate. Arkansas residents will want to avoid some common mistakes when fashioning their complete estate plans.

Once plans are in place, the will need to be updated as life changes. One of the biggest mistakes is having designated the wrong executor. If an executor is no longer living or is unable to take on the job that is required, that won't be much help to beneficiaries. Ensuring a proper executor is of prime importance. The same is true of children that an estate holder wants to include in an estate plan.

Staying clear of estate planning mistakes in Arkansas

Planning an estate takes some thought and foresight. When making decisions about estate planning, Arkansas residents will want to ensure that their plans are complete and spell everything out. With that in mind, there are some things to be aware of. Making mistakes could mean added stress and grief for family members.

Anyone writing an estate plan should have a good grasp of what that entails. Moving forward when there are foggy areas doesn't make sense. Understanding how a plan works will make the writing of it much easier. In the very least, the basics of the plan should make sense.

Is an irrevocable trust the right document for your estate?

You begin to reach retirement age, and you start thinking about the future of your assets after you pass away. You know which assets will fall into the hands of which beneficiaries, and you want to secure your decision in a legal document.

Irrevocable trusts allow you to permanently allocate specific assets to your beneficiaries while you remain alive. Irrevocable trusts, compared to revocable trusts, allow security as they cannot face modification or the probate process in Arkansas. Because the probate process may take months to distribute assets to your loved ones, many individuals choose to establish irrevocable trusts, so that their beneficiaries can receive their generous gifts quickly when they pass away.

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