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Conway Estate Planning Blog

Revocable trusts can address many concerns about probate

Probate can be a hassle for your family members. It can be expensive and time consuming, leaving your property essentially in limbo until it can be distributed to your loved ones. If you own property in more than one state, your estate may even need to go through probate in multiple states. Then, when it is all over, anyone from the general public can see how much your estate was worth and how you had it distributed.

Although probate can involve many disadvantages, it is not all bad. However, there are enough disadvantages to probate that, according to Forbes, not avoiding probate is one of the most common mistakes people make when estate planning.

Stumbling blocks to estate planning in Arkansas

There is an old adage that says there are two constants in life -- death and taxes. No Arkansas resident really wants to focus on either, especially the end of life, but it's important to give pause to think of family members left behind who would appreciate the time taken by their loved ones who cared enough to do some estate planning. It might not be something people enjoy doing, but it's an integral part of caring for who will be grieving the loved one.

Thinking about dying is probably the number one roadblock to estate planning. It's followed closely by the belief of many who think writing an estate plan will result in a loss of control over the assets and their finances, which isn't so. As long as a testator is alive, it's possible to maintain control of his or her personal and financial affairs. Some people also fear that estate planning will be expensive, but it needn't be. Caring for others who are left behind is worth the fee of getting help with a comprehensive estate plan -- the cost comes at the hands of loved ones whose family member dies without having anything in place.

Estate planning can reflect modern Arkansas couples

Being in the 21st century calls for some twists on things that could impact family life. Modern Arkansas families need to have modern estate plans and that means estate planning shouldn't be put on the back burner and plans should be updated as life evolves. If children are part of a couple's life, it's all the more important to take the steps necessary to have them cared for in the event something unforeseen should happen.

The face of the family might look very different today than it did in the 1940s and 50s. Couples are living together without marrying, children are part of blended families and same-sex couples can marry. Gone is the traditional model of the family, but not gone is the need for adults to have estate planning documents like wills, powers of attorney and health care directives, among others. 

Arkansas singles need to think about estate planning, too

Not everyone gets married. But everyone needs to do some estate planning, and that includes single individuals in Arkansas. Singles may have amassed healthy bank accounts or more assets than their married counterparts. No matter what the situation, everyone should have an estate plan in place, which includes a number of important documents.

First and foremost, everyone needs an up-to-date will naming a trustworthy executor. Also, having a person to act as a power of attorney (POA) is also crucial. An individual named to act on a testator's behalf on a POA will be able to make decisions for the testator when he or she is unable to do so. Add to the mix a revocable trust with the grantor as trustee as long as he or she is alive. When the grantor dies, a successor trustee can administer whatever assets are in the trust, and the grantor should fund the trust while he or she is able.

Lee Radziwill's estate planning complete and elegant

Experts are saying that Lee Radziwill's estate plan was as elegant and well-put-together as she was herself. The sister of late former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passed away earlier this year. Arkansas residents can learn something from her estate planning etiquette, which was both complex and thorough, as her will was recently probated. She understood that wealth could pass seamlessly with the right planning documents in place.

Not only did Radziwill have a will, but she also utilized a revocable trust which ensures privacy and ease of administering an estate. When a grantor would like some things kept away from public scrutiny, he or she can use trusts to do so. They are commonly used by wealthy individuals. Trusts can get complicated since there can even be trusts within trusts.

Arkansas estate planning and foreign investments

Some Americans venture away from home when it comes to investments and put some of their funds into foreign markets. Arkansas residents who have foreign investments need to be aware that the right kind of estate planning can help them to protect those assets. Having experienced advisors weighing in on prospective investments is a step in the right direction before even considering foreign markets.

Foreign investment can also include the purchase of real estate. Some folks have the dream of retiring to a beach bungalow on a foreign shore somewhere. Ownership of real estate may look different in foreign countries, so it is best to get all the rules before signing on the dotted line. There are so many other issues that can come into play. For instance, if living in a foreign country, how does that country view estate planning documents?

A few golden rules of effective estate planning in Arkansas

Cost effectiveness is a key element in a good, overall estate plan. One of the goals of positive estate planning is to have beneficiaries in Arkansas get the most out of what they've been bequeathed. One of the things that matters most is making sure all documents in an estate plan are legally binding and current. There are a few golden rules of estate planning of which every adult should be aware before drafting a personal plan.

Estate planning isn't just for the elderly, first off. Most younger adults aren't even aware of what they have and what would happen to their assets should something unforeseen happen to them. Making a list of tangible (real estate, coins, collectibles, etc.) and intangible (savings accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement funds, etc.) assets is a good starting point. Writing a will that includes who should become guardians of any minor children might be the next step.

Luke Perry looked after family with estate planning documents

Luke Perry made sure his family would be looked after. Arkansas residents should look to the late actor -- only 52 years old when he died -- as a role model for estate planning. Perry had his estate in order before he died due to complications of a massive stroke. Because of that planning, his loved ones didn't have to worry about having to make serious decisions without knowing what he would have wanted. 

Among the actor's estate planning documents was one which specified end-of-life requests, also known as an advance care directive. With that document, his family was able to make the decision to remove the actor from life-support. Without it, they would have had to petition the court to get the permission to do so, especially if one family member would have disagreed. 

Estate planning: Resolving finances after death of loved ones

Emotions can run rampant when a beloved family member passes away. For those Arkansas residents who are left behind and having to go through their loved ones' estate planning documents, there are some words of wisdom to heed before making any major decisions. Grief can cause a great amount of stress and financial decisions related to a deceased person's estate plan should be made with a clear head. Experts suggest people put off making major decisions, such as selling a house, until about six months have passed after a person's death.

Asking for assistance may be wise when having to go through all the paperwork. A lawyer and/or a financial planner might be able to give some prudent advice. Getting a number of copies of the death certificate may help in case there are instances when they need to be presented to various individuals, companies or institutions. Calling the deceased person's employer -- if the company doesn't already know -- is one of the first things that should be done upon a person's death at which point the employer may be able to verify if the employee had a life insurance policy or any benefits of which family members should be aware.

Estate planning should not be one-size-fits-all

Every child has individual needs, goals and challenges. Although many parents recognize this, they often fail to incorporate this knowledge when estate planning. Although many parents want to leave their assets to their children, simple estate plans can put children into situations they are not prepared to handle. This can risk family assets being squandered or misused.

As a parent, you will love your children no matter what. However, there may be situations when it is appropriate to save them from themselves. A trust can allow a parent more control than a will can over the circumstances surrounding a child’s inheritance.

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