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What you need to know about a special needs trust

Disabilities can create many financial difficulties, such as the inability to work and the need for long-term treatments, caregivers and medical devices such as customized wheelchairs. Fortunately, there are government programs that assist families and individuals with these expenses. Unfortunately, there is typically an income limit to qualify for assistance. Many people establish a special needs trust to meet eligibility requirements without reducing their assets.

What it is

4 elements to consider for your estate planning meeting

Estate planning is more than just drawing up a will or establishing a trust. There are several parts to the whole, and you should view them separately as well as together.

The good news is that your estate plan will be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Here are four things to think about as you prepare for your initial meeting:

Why having a will is not enough

If you are nearing retirement age or are already in retirement, you likely have begun to think about how you plan to manage your affairs as you near the later years of your life. Having a will is usually the first thing that people think of when they begin to plan for the distribution of their assets after death. However, having a will is not the only step you need to take.

Estate planning is a general term used for all the various legal documents and directives governing the distribution of your assets and property following your death. A comprehensive estate plan takes many factors into account besides a will, and everyone can benefit from advance planning.

What you need to know about the new estate and gift tax laws

As a reasonably well-to-do Ohio resident, you probably already have a will. Maybe you also created one or more trusts that benefit your children or grandchildren. In all likelihood, you created these documents and possibly others as part of your overall estate plan and with an eye toward saving taxes.

Now, however, comes the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and you may need to revisit your entire estate plan. As reported by the New York Times and others, Congress passed this new law late last year, and President Trump signed it into law on Dec. 22, 2017.

What does power of attorney mean?

As you prepare your estate plans, you may find yourself confused by all the legal jargon. What is the difference between a will and a living will? Do you have to establish a trust? What does power of attorney mean?

The last question is important to review because it involves people making choices on your behalf, so in order to choose the right proxies, you must first understand the roles they will play.

What happens when a will cannot be found?

If a close relative dies and you are left trying to figure out his or her estate, it is quite helpful if there is a will. However, if you cannot find the will, then it is not going to be of much help. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to try to find the will and figure out the wishes of your loved one.

In a case where the will cannot be found or the location of it is unknown, you typically need to be a close relative, such as a child, spouse or grandchild, the closest living relative or the only known living relative, according to Fox Business. This will make it much easier to maneuver through any legal steps you may have to take because you will often have to produce proof of the relationship.

Why do you need a will?

Creating a will is one of the most important things you can do to care for your family after you are gone. Death does not come at a pre-planned time, and you never know when the unthinkable will happen. To ensure the care of your family and the division of your assets as you wish, you should have a will long before you think you will need it.

Every situation is different, but a will can protect your children, your spouse, your businesses and any wealth you have amassed over the years. Even if you are not particularly wealthy, you can rest easy knowing that the things you worked so hard for are given to those you love.

Tips for a smooth trust administration

The estate planning process can be confusing, and it is important to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. When property and assets are involved, sometimes even the closest families can be contentious. You can make sure the trust administration process goes well by planning ahead and making your wishes clear. Here are some tips about choosing a trustee, communicating your wishes and updating your estate plan.

How to choose an executor for your estate

If you are putting together your will, particularly if it's the first time, understanding everything you need to cover can be a challenge. One of the first steps, though, is to pick your executor. This decision is important because the executor of your estate is the person you are trusting to take care of all of your final debts and the disposition of your assets. That makes the position one of trust, and it also complicates the choice, because the people you are most likely to trust the most are also likely to be beneficiaries, which could potentially put them in the position of having a conflict of interest.

The first 5 things to know about living wills

People these days must really have faith in our court system. How else can one explain the number of adults who don't have a will? Indeed, recent statistics indicate that 64 percent of Americans still do not have a will. Without a will, the courts will determine who your heirs are, who controls your estate and name an executor to distribute your assets and a guardian to care for your minor children.

Even fewer people have a living will - a legal document that is just as important, if not more important, in some respects, than a will. Another recent study concluded that less than 32 percent of Americans have a living will. Without a living will, decisions about your healthcare, should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, will be left to friends and family who may end up arguing about who gets to make these important decisions and what those important decisions should be.

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