Estate Planning News - Law and Daily Life
Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Recently in Estate Planning Category

Musician, actor, and cultural icon David Bowie passed away on January 10, and the details of his will are now being released. While his arrangements were fairly straightforward -- the bulk of his estate went to his family -- there were a few quirks that can shed some light on the estate planning process.

Here's what David Bowie's will can teach you about writing your own:

Do You Inherit Your Parents' Debts?

Losing a parent is difficult. The loss of an elder makes your mortality clear. But what is much less obvious is whether, with this death, you have inherited debts.

The answer is that for the most part in most states and under most circumstances you, the adult child, do not personally inherit the debts of your elders. But there are some exceptions, and of course everything depends on the details of their finances.

The Basics of Creating a Trust

Trusts are created to distribute property. They can be used to supplement or replace a will. But that is, of course, not their sole purpose, and many people contemplate and create trusts long before they expect to pass.

There are different types of trusts, all used for different purposes. Generally speaking, however, creating trusts allows you to manage and distribute assets. Also, and importantly, a trustor can impose conditions on receipt. Trusts are often used to protect vulnerable beneficiaries or to ensure that a beneficiary only uses assets transferred for a particular purpose, like education.

Can I Sue for My Inheritance?

Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough without adding on a legal dispute about your inheritance. But you may need to fight for your inheritance if you believe a loved one's will is outdated or has been improperly altered.

While most estates will pass through probate without an issue, here are some legal considerations when challenging a will and your rights to an inheritance.

Pet Provisions: Tips About Inheriting an Animal

Everyone loved your uncle Joe, but his Doberman ... well, not as much. If your uncle left you his pet as part of your inheritance, are you stuck with this dog?

Not necessarily. There are alternatives that may be better for both you and the animal. But before giving up the dog, consider that caring for animals can have great health benefits. Also, it's a way to keep Joe's memory or spirit living with you, quite literally.

Do Joint Tenants Have to Be Married?

Joint tenancy is a property law term that describes a type of home ownership. Joint tenants do not have to be married, and joint tenancies are not necessarily limited to two people.

There are perceived advantages to joint tenancies as forms of ownership. But beware, there are also certain risks.

Wills can be intimidating. Aside from the contemplation of death, trying to craft a legal document that accomplishes everything you want can be a daunting task. Interpreting wills without the help of the person who drafted it is a notoriously tricky practice, so getting it right is essential.

With so many ways to get it wrong, how do you make sure you have a valid will that properly takes care of your estate? Be sure to avoid these common mistakes when you draft your will:

Estate planning is never easy. Contemplating end-of-life decisions and inheritance questions can be legally and emotionally complex. Unfortunately, estate planning for a family member with special needs can make the process even more difficult.

But there are ways to make estate planning for people with special needs easier. And knowing what to expect, including the potential perks and pitfalls, is the best way to start.

Grave Matters: How to Sue a Cemetery

Strange things happen in cemeteries. And we're not just talking ghosts. When it comes to the business of burial, there is plenty to fear.

Burial plots have gotten double booked. Corpses have gone missing. Bodies are not always buried where they are supposed to be. And of course, sometimes graves get robbed.

You can sue a cemetery for falling short with a corpse. It's a grim topic. But Halloween is upon us, so now's as good a time as any to take a look at how it is done.

Family Feud? How a Lawyer Can Help

Lawyers who practice family law often become skilled in navigating family feuds. If your family is involved in serious disputes that have legal implications, it's probably time to contact an attorney for help.

Tough topics -- like death or money -- make people uncomfortable and emotional. Add to that deeply entrenched family dynamics and you have a recipe for disaster. Having an attorney handle a personal matter may seem, well, impersonal, but it's actually a way to avoid having destructive exchanges that will be difficult for you and your family to recover from.