Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

Sentimental items have a subjective value

When dividing an estate, it is often easiest for children to simply auction off minor assets and possessions that they do not need and that no one really wants. They can then split the money up evenly and ensure that everyone actually gets the same value out of those assets.

However, one major issue is that the true "value" of an item cannot always be determined at auction or by an appraiser. If the object in question has some sentimental value to any member of the family, then the value of that item could be far above the price it would ever fetch on the open market. Additionally, heirs may be hesitant to sell sentimental items, making it impossible to divide that value between multiple children.

Avoiding probate in California

You maybe have heard about probate before. Oftentimes the term holds negative connotations. Many people want to avoid this process, but don’t fully know why. These bring up various questions, and it’s important to learn more about it early on. In doing so, you will know whether it’s necessary or not.

Should you tell your kids about divorce alone?

Your spouse asks you for a divorce. Later that day, while you're at home waiting for the kids to get back from school and your spouse is at work, you start wondering how you should approach this. Do you just tell the kids about the divorce by yourself as soon as they get home, or should you wait for your spouse?

There are a couple of things to consider here. As much as you want to talk about something this big in your life, you also don't want to rush it. Never tell the kids that a divorce is coming before it is 100 percent certain. If your spouse just said it in the heat of the moment, you need to talk about it a lot more before breaking that news to anyone else.

Estate planning considerations during a divorce

Estate planning is an ongoing process, not something you do once and forget about. When major life events happen, like a spouse filing for divorce, you will want to revisit and update your estate planning documents to ensure they reflect your current wishes.

It is important to update estate planning documents during the divorce process to protect yourself and your end of life wishes. Forgetting to update these documents could leave your spouse in control of making decisions for your well-being, if something unexpected happens to you before the divorce is finalized rendering you unable to make decisions for yourself. Your spouse could even inherit your personal belongings or other personal assets that he or she may not have gotten in the divorce.

One downside of an educational trust with a general pot

When creating an educational trust for multiple heirs -- three grandchildren, for instance -- people will sometimes elect to put all the money into the same "pot." They just set up a general fund and all three heirs are allowed to take the money out and use it for college-related expenses.

This can work, and it is one of the simpler ways to craft an educational trust. It saves you from having to set up an individual trust for each person.

Divorce may come after these 5 life events

For many people, divorce happens slowly, a process that takes time. The relationship slowly erodes until the couple realizes it is just not working anymore.

For others, though, a specific life event derails their marriage and leads to divorce. This may be simply because of the stress that event puts on the marriage. The divorce may not happen immediately, but people can look back and pinpoint the one event that started them down this path.

Should estate planning include giving gifts during your life?

Estate planning essentially involves determining how to pass your estate on to your children when you die. However, who says you have to wait until then to give them the assets you have set aside for them? Should you consider doing this while you are still alive?

Obviously, this does not work for everything. You probably cannot give loved ones the family home if you're still living in it. Further, your life insurance policy does not pay out to them until you pass away.

Is it advantageous to file for divorce before your spouse?

If you and your spouse have separated or agreed to a divorce, one of the two of you will have to bite the bullet and file for divorce sooner or later.

Doing so may be no simple task, you’ll need to make some difficult decisions and gather a lot of documentation. Is going through these steps worth the hassle? Are you better off getting your spouse to file or are is there a payoff for initiating a divorce first?

What you give up when you don’t have a will

What do Prince, John Denver, Tupac Shakur and Amy Winehouse have in common? They all died without a will. As a recent CNBC article noted, the years have seen many famous musicians with large estates die without a will or similar estate planning device in place. Reports are that Aretha Franklin now also makes this list.

Now, famous musicians are far from the only ones who sometimes neglect to have an estate plan. There are Americans from all different backgrounds and fields who put off forming a will or trust. And a person doesn’t have to be rich for there to be big risks in such delays. Putting off estate planning puts a person in danger of one day adding their name to the list of individuals who have died without a will or trust.

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