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If you inherited property as an heir or next of kin this year, you might have thought you were getting a windfall. Instead, you may have just gotten a more complicated tax filing.

Before you can determine how much you'll owe in taxes on your inheritance, you have to first figure out if you even have to pay inheritance taxes in the first place.

None of us want to think of our loved ones or ourselves being incapacitated or unable to make end-of-life decisions. But as we and our families age, these decisions become more important, and it becomes necessary to have a plan in place should the unthinkable happen.

Living wills and durable powers of attorney are two types of plans that can ensure a person receives his or her preferred medical treatment, and they function slightly differently. So here's a quick overview of the differences between living wills and durable powers of attorney.

Buying a gravesite isn't exactly an everyday purchase. But it is an important, and often very costly, purchase that most people think about when planning their estates.

Do you know what you're getting when you buy a gravesite?

This is one purchase you should not make without asking these five questions first:

We are often warned that the Internet is forever. Since we users are not (yet) immortal, what happens to our online lives after our corporal ones are over?

On Thursday, Facebook announced that users can now designate a legacy contact: "a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away." So what happens to your feed after you've shuffled off your last status update? And what about your digital assets: email, e-books, etc.?

While some states have enacted laws addressing a deceased person's online accounts (and the Uniform Law Commission has proposed a nationwide statute on the matter), more often than not, how your data is dealt with after death will come down to your particular service provider. Here's a general overview:

Almost six months after the tragic death of Robin Williams, the predictable has happened: There's a squabble over his estate.

The battle pits Williams' three children (from his two previous marriages) against his widow Susan, to whom he was married for three years. Williams left behind a comprehensive estate plan consisting of trusts for his real estate and for his children.

Because trusts are a more bulletproof option than distribution through a will when it comes to estate planning, how can you challenge a trust? Here are a few possibilities:

Legal How-To: Disclaiming an Inheritance

Although an inheritance of money, property, or other assets is often a welcome gift for the recipient, there are circumstances in which a person may want to disclaim a gift from another person's estate.

For example, a person whose own estate may already be at or near the limit of the federal estate tax exemption may choose to disclaim an inheritance for tax purposes. Disclaimers may also be used to take advantage of martial deductions or to prevent a beneficiary's creditors from making a claim on property that he or she inherited.

So how do you legally disclaim a gift or bequest made by another person' estate? Here's a general overview:

Top 3 Everyday Legal Questions From FindLaw Answers: January 2015

You've got questions... we've got answers. If you have not yet asked or answered a question in FindLaw's Answers community, what are you waiting for? This amazing free resource supports a dynamic community of legal consumers and attorneys helping each other out. Simple as that.

We see a lot of great questions in our Answers community every day. Here's a look at the Top 3 recent questions from our various boards:

1. Both my parents passed away without a will. There is a family cabin (not worth very much money) that I would like to have and my sister does not want. How do I go about doing that?

This is a great question; issues with wills, inheritances, and general estate planning are popular on our boards. In this instance, the individual is actually dealing with two issues: what happens to his parents' estate because they died without a will, and how to get his sister to disclaim her inheritance.

5 Legal New Year's Resolutions for 2015

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, adding a few legal goals to the list can be a great way to stay current on your long-term legal needs.

From estate planning to personal finances, there are a number of ways to be proactive when it comes to legal planning. And though you can't always prevent legal issues from arising, you can put yourself in a better position to handle them once they do.

What can you do this New Year's to help plan for a better legal foundation in 2015? Here are five legal New Year's resolutions:

When you die, can you instruct in your will that your pets be killed and then buried beside you?

That's the question posed by a recently deceased woman's will, asking that her dog, who survived her, be euthanized, cremated, and place among her own ashes. According to Cincinnati's WCPO-TV, Connie Lay, who passed away in late November, requested in her will that her dog Bela be either sent to an animal shelter in Utah or be killed and buried with her.

Is it legal to include killing and burying your pets in your will?

2014 in Review: Our Top 7 Estate-Planning Blog Posts

Despite dealing largely with one of life's must unchanging truths -- that everyone ages and eventually must die -- estate planning is a surprisingly ever-changing area of law.

Not only do the laws governing estate planning change over time, but so to the techniques used by estate planning attorneys to address their clients' needs. With the popularity of cremation on the rise, questions regarding the legality and logistics of scattering ashes have become more common. The use of trusts has also become popular in estate plans, with different types of trusts to address specific needs and situations.

What were some of the most important issues in estate planning in 2014? Here are our Top 7 estate-planning posts from the past year: