How to Choose a Trustee

When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee does what you do right now with your financial affairs - collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records, and generally keep things organized and in good order. Who Can Be Your Trustee If you have a revocable living trust, you can be your own trustee. If you are married, your spouse can be a trustee with you. This way, if either of you become incapacitated or die, the other can continue to handle your financial affairs without interruption. Most married couples who own assets together, especially those who have been married for

Do It Now: Name a Guardian for Your Minor Child(ren)

“ I know for a fact that this is not what Karen would want!” said Karen mother. Karen was a single mother of a 5 year old daughter. Her daughter’s father died in the Iraq War. One evening, a drunk driver t-boned Karen and her daughter, killing Karen. Karen only had two living relatives at the time of her death, her divorced parents. Her father lived locally and her mother lived in Florida. Because Karen did not have a Will or nominate a guardian for her daughter, Karen’s father petitioned the court to be guardian of his grand-daughter but never told the court about Karen’s mother. Fortunately, the court discovered the existence of Karen’s mother and notified her of the pending guardianship p

Should your Child’s Guardian and Trustee be the Same Person?

If you have only overheard discussions about estate planning, you have likely heard the words “guardian”, or “trustee” tossed around in the conversation. When it comes to estate planning, who will be ultimately in charge of your minor child is an important decision that requires consideration of many factors. Although there is no substitute for you as a parent, a guardian is essentially someone who steps in as a parent, assuming the parental role and raising the child through adulthood. A trustee, on the other hand, is in charge of managing the financial legacy that has been left behind for the minor. As a parent, you need to take into account the characteristics needed for each role. Who Ma

How to Choose a Guardian/Conservator for Yourself

What will happen if you cannot make decisions for yourself? Every day we make hundreds of decisions from what to eat for breakfast to where we go on vacation. With each passing day, there are more choices to be made. But the day may come when you are unable make competent decisions for yourself. When it comes to estate planning, both the term “guardian” and “conservator” tend to come up often. At times there may be confusion about what a guardian does as opposed to what a conservator does. The two roles are similar but distinct. And, as you will soon see, Maryland and the District of Columbia do not help this confusion. Guardian A guardian is a court-appointed fiduciary responsible for ensur

How to Pick a Trustee, an Agent Under a Power of Attorney and an Executor

While the term fiduciary is a legal term with a rich history, it generally means someone who is legally obligated to act in another person’s best interests. Trustees, executors, and agents are all examples of fiduciaries. When you pick trustees, executors, and agents in your estate plan, you are picking one or more people to make decisions in your and your beneficiaries’ best interests and in accordance with the instructions you leave. Luckily, understanding the basics of what each of these terms means and what to consider when making your choices can make your estate plan work far better. Trustee A revocable living trust is often the center of a well-designed estate plan because it is simpl

BACK-TO-SCHOOL PREPARATION: MORE THAN SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Use This Time to Revisit The Parts of Your Estate Plan That Impact Your Children Most With all the considerations about your children’s well-being weighing on your mind from day to day, it can be easy to forget about some of the most important factors in keeping them well cared for and secure: naming a guardian in your estate plan. When was the last time you reflected on your selection of a guardian? If the answer is hard to pinpoint, it is probably time to revisit this issue. Children change a lot from year to year as they mature from infants into their teenage years. Their care needs and who would make a good guardian can change over time as well. Is the person you previously appointed

Steps For Starting the End-of-Life Conversation

Death and taxes. No one ever really want to discuss either, especially not discuss death and dying. And yet, it is a critical time in everyone’s life and one for which we know we need to prepare. While many people have the desire to share their wishes, something is preventing people from openly communicating with their families. I counsel many clients about this topic, but recently I had to once again practice what I preach. As some of you know, recently both my wife and my Legal Assistant had surgery on the same day. Just prior to their surgeries, each of them prepared their Advance Directives and Living Wills. The thought of them needing these documents was not easy for either of them unde

Avoid These Common, Expensive Mistakes - Part Two

How to Leave Assets to Adult Children When considering how to leave assets to adult children, the first step is to decide how much each one should receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this does not necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of your estate. For example, it may be desirable to give more to a child who is a teacher than to one who has a successful business, or to “compensate” a child who has been a primary caregiver. Some parents worry about leaving too much money to their children. They want their children to have enough to do whatever they wish, but not so much that they will be lazy and unproductive. So, instead of giving everything to their

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