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Fullerton Estate Planning Law Blog

Can you sell your home at a bargain?

Your family home is worth $250,000, but you want to essentially give it to one of your children. You have now moved out, and you live in a nursing home anyway, so it seems like a good idea to pass it on independent of your other estate planning. That is to say, you're not going to wait for it to go to your heirs with the rest of the estate.

You're also not going to charge your son or daughter $250,000. Maybe you want to give them a nice deal and sell them the home for $100,000, making it far more affordable for their family than any other house in the area. Maybe you want to give it to them as a gift, but you decide to make it official with a $1 sale. Can you do so?

How to talk to your parents about estate planning

As your parents grow older, their well-being during their later life will become a bigger priority for you. If you are concerned that your aging parents have not yet created an estate plan or are not taking the appropriate steps to plan for mental incapacity, you will likely want to have a conversation about this with them.

Conversations about this topic can be very sensitive. Sometimes, parents can get upset or defensive when talking about these topics. Therefore, you must take the time to consider the right approach before taking action. The following are some tips for having a conversation with your parents about estate planning.

You may need to update your estate executor

When you create your estate plan, you pick an executor. It's one thing to write out the plan, but you must remember that you won't be around to put it into action, so you need someone to do that on your behalf. You want to talk to them first and make sure they're up for the job.

Additionally, you want to remember to update your executor or have repeated conversations with them as things change. You may need to pick a new person entirely.

A trust can keep the court from choosing a guardian

You know that injuries, disease or aging could lead to a disability. You may become mentally incapacitated. For instance, those who get diagnosed with Alzheimer's may slowly see their mental abilities decline, even when in good physical health.

By no means are you at that point yet. You feel fine. However, you've read the statistics and you know it's a potential outcome in your future. You want to be ready.

Can you make a temporary trust?

Thinking about putting your assets into a trust as part of your estate planning, but unsure if you want them to stay in that trust for good? If so, you're in luck. You can make a temporary trust, or a limited-term trust.

Why would you want to do this? Some people do it if they work in a profession that puts them at a higher risk of getting sued. A common example is a doctor who thinks he or she may get sued over mistakes made at work. To make sure that the family does not lose all of their personal wealth, the doctor can transfer it to the trust so that he or she does not actually own it.

Why would you leave $1 to an heir?

As you do your estate planning, you talk to a friend who is also doing theirs. This friend has three children, but they're estranged from one of them. They never talk, and they haven't in years. You know that they do not want to leave their inheritance to this child.

One day, as you discuss the tactics you're using, they mention that they left that child a single dollar in their estate plan. Why would they do this? Is it meant to be insulting? Did they think they legally had to leave something to every child, so this was the only way to cut them out?

Relationships, values and money in estate planning

People often think estate planning revolves around money. The goal, after all, is to decide what to do with your assets after you pass away.

That may be true, but experts say that things like values and relationships are actually much more important than money. They are the things that really drive these conversations and determine the outcome of the estate plan.

Your estate plan can help during life and after death

You have a fairly small estate, and you're not worried about estate taxes. You really think that your will and other steps you've taken are enough to prevent your family from having to go through probate after your death. So, should you work on an estate plan?

Interestingly enough, your estate plan doesn't only help you protect your estate after you pass away. It's also a plan that can include protections for yourself and dependents while you're still alive.

You can change your will after writing it

When you write your will, be careful and do try to get everything perfectly right. Remember that your family may be counting on it to be accurate and helpful. You never know when they're actually going to need to use it. Don't make mistakes.

That said, don't worry so much about mistakes that it's paralyzing. You can change the will after you write it. In fact, you may need to change things that aren't even "mistakes" in the first place. Life happens. Maybe you have a new grandchild or sell an asset. You can update your will to reflect the changes.

What is an express trust?

You have a lot of terms to sort through if you're thinking about creating a trust as part of your estate plan. You can use revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts and much more. One term you may have heard is an express trust. What is this and when would you use it?

An express trust is a consciously created trust. Essentially, any trust that you decide to use with your estate plan, no matter what it does specifically, is an express trust. You created it intentionally and with a goal in mind.

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