If you pass without a will, the results can often be unexpected and devastating. You leave the results up to a judge, not your or your family.
When a person dies without a will they are said to be “intestate.” That is, without a will. When this happens, the state’s laws will be used to determine who gets what, when, how, and how much.
In Arkansas here is the basic plan for your stuff:
Your spouse gets one third of your money and cash accounts
Your spouse gets a one third interest in your real estate for your spouse’s lifetime. Your spouse can’t sell without getting your children’s permission. Then when it is sold, your spouse will only get a portion of the money.
The entire process is overseen by a judge. It is the judge’s job to make sure the state law is followed. It is a paperwork intensive process that will take 8 months or more to complete.
If you are not married but living with somebody, then they won’t get anything. In Arkansas only relatives are in the chain of inheritance. Your children first, then parents, then siblings, ad naseum. It can be absolutely devastating to the partner.
If it is a blended family, then only your children inherit. Your spouse’s children aren’t related by blood or adoption so they don’t inherit.
Children of the “half-blood” are considered to be full children for inheritance under the law. So, if you had children with another person, remarried, had more children all your children would inherit from you. The only way to prevent that from happening is with a plan.
Hi. I’m Gary the owner of DeWitt Law Firm. We are with you every step of the way. Get started now by going to dewitt dot law.
What’s left out can really hurt with a Will.
Recently I had a client come in with his dad’s will. It was one page of text and one page for signatures. Literally a one page will.
In the will dad had left everything to my client. However, he didn’t mention his other 3 children in the will that he wanted left out. Under Arkansas law, those children are entitled to a share of the estate. Worse yet, those children were estranged and we are having to hunt down their addresses, if they are even still around. I’ll have to send notice to their found address and hope they respond. If not, then the Judge will decide if the estate is in limbo or if my client takes all…
Another downfall of this one page will is it didn’t give the executor any authority to do anything. Again, under Arkansas law, you can either use the authority given in the will to do things, or state law. Because the will didn’t explicitly grant any authority, we’ll have to ask the judge for permission to do each and every little step.
The third mistake is that there is no self proving affidavit of the witnesses signatures. I may have to find the witnesses and have them sign affidavits that it is their signature. If I can find them.
Jack and Jill thought all they needed was wills. However, when Jack developed dementia, they learned that a will isn’t enough.
You need more than a Last Will and Testament to have a complete estate plan.
Your Last Will and Testament does not protect you, your family, your money, or your other property during your lifetime!
Estate planning is about more than giving your stuff away. Estate planning is about protecting you, your healthcare, your money, your property, your family, and your freedom of choice during your lifetime as well.
Your Last Will and Testament describes how you want to give your stuff away. But it does not provide any lifetime protection.
In order to get lifetime protection you need a durable power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, HIPAA waiver, and a living will at a minimum in addition to your Last Will and Testament?
There is a way to keep control and freedom of choice, even in the case of dementia.
You can provide even more lifetime protection by adding a revocable living trust to your plan. The trust will name somebody to manage the trust assets if you can’t. You can even name a corporate trustee like a bank to manage if you can’t or to make the final distribution.
Hi. I’m Gary, owner of DeWitt law. We help make your and your family’s life easier because we are there every step of the way.
Get started today at dewitt law ar dot com forward slash get started
Powers of attorney are super because they almost have super powers.
Powers of attorney have the power to save you Money, time, and for you to stay in control.
In addition to these super powers a power of attorney empowers someone else to speak for you when you can’t. If you are injured, have a major medical incident, or develop dementia, your power of attorney tells the world who you want to speak for you and make decisions for you.
Without Powers of Attorney, nobody is legally allowed to make decisions on your behalf without going to court. A judge must appoint somebody to speak for you.
While you are competent, you can monitor your agent’s behavior. If they are getting in financial trouble or abusing the power of attorney, you can cancel it and replace them.
You can’t cancel a guardianship if you aren’t declared competent. You won’t get the chance to monitor the guardian ahead of time.
Here are even more benefits of a durable power of attorney:
Protect you and your finances. Without a durable power of attorney, you don’t know who will be appointed to watch over you and your finances.
Avoid costly guardianship proceedings. They can cost $3,000 or more per person. Powers of attorney are about $600.
Save money and protect your estate because you’ve planned in advance. If you don’t have durable powers of attorney, then your family is forced to court.
Ensure your wishes are carried out quickly, without the need for a Judge to intervene and interfere.
Get your super powers of attorney started now by going to dewitt law ar dot com forward slash get started.
Joe wrote out a list of what he wanted to go to certain people. However, that’s all it was, a list of people followed by what they get. His family later found out that wasn’t enough.
Just writing down your wishes is not enough. It takes the right legal format and wording to make a proper last will and testament.
A Last Will and Testament is a list of instruction for the distribution of your final estate. It names the person, the executor, who will be in charge of the distribution. Its other very important function is to name your choice of guardian for children under the legal age of 18.
The requirements for creating a Will in Arkansas are basic. You must be over 18, know what you have and know who you want to have it. If you meet those three requirements, then you can create your Will. Even people with mild to moderate dementia can still create a Will since the mental requirements are not hard to meet.
A Will lists the people or organizations and charities that you want to receive gifts of your property. If you have children, including adopted children, that you want to leave out, they must be mentioned in the Will. Otherwise, by Arkansas law, they can make a claim against your final estate.
A Will also lists the powers that your executor will have. Wills without any powers listed must have almost every action approved by a Judge. Wills with a comprehensive list of powers need fewer trips to the Judge to get permission to do things.
A well designed estate plan wraps you in a blanket of protection and peace of mind.
A well-designed estate plan not only tells the world how you want your stuff distributed but protects your freedom of choice during your lifetime. It sets forth rules and put people in charge to protect you and your money during your lifetime and beyond.
The first, and most important piece of a plan, in my opinion, is the durable power of attorney. This protects you during your lifetime. It keeps your family out of court seeking permission to make decisions for you and to manage your property. And, it is much cheaper to setup a power of attorney than to go to court.
In a power of attorney, you name somebody you know and trust, not necessarily a family member, to manage your affairs and make decisions for you if you can’t. This person will be in charge of managing your money and other property if you can’t.
For healthcare, you set up a healthcare power of attorney. This is a power of attorney specifically to make healthcare decisions if you can’t.
To go along with a healthcare power of attorney you should also setup a HIPAA waiver or protected healthcare information release. This tells the medical professionals who they can talk to about how you are doing and what is wrong with you. Without this, the doctors and nurses are limited in what they can discuss and who they can discuss it with.
Finally, we get to the parts of a plan that deal with the distribution of your estate.
First, a last will and testament tells who gets what when. A will requires probate, but can work with some additional planning.
Second, a trust can be created. A trust avoids probate and provides for management of assets during your lifetime. You name a successor trustee to take over managing the property in the trust if you can’t during your lifetime. Afterwards, the final trustee will follow the instructions in the trust to distribute your property and money.
Do you think “estate planning” is just about creating an inheritance plan?
So, what exactly is “estate planning” if it isn’t all about leaving an inheritance?
Hi, I’m Gary and I own DeWitt law firm where we do great estate planning.
Your plan starts with a no obligation consultation. Get your no obligation consultation by going to plan with Gary dot com.
Estate planning is ancient. If you read the Bible, in Isaiah 38:1, you will find planning mentioned: “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” The Greeks left Wills. Shakespeare left a Will.
Traditionally, estate planning was all about property and arranging for somebody to take over managing your business after death. But over the years it has evolved to cover much more than that.
Most people I talk to think that estate planning is about nothing more than passing their property to the next generation.
But planning is much more than just planning for your property, money, stuff, and estate. It is now about protecting you, your family, and your money during your lifetime too.
It’s not uncommon for me to see families who have had a parent or other family member develop sudden onset dementia, had a heart attack, had a stroke, or otherwise have become unable to manage their affairs.
“Estate Planning” is about protecting you, your stuff, your money, your privacy, and your estate during your lifetime as much as it is about leaving an inheritance. It plans for loss of capacity and keeps you and your family out of court.
Under the law, nobody but you has permission to make your decisions unless you give them permission. And to stand up in court, the permission must be in writing and done the correct way.
If something happens and you become unable to manage your affairs and money, then without a proper plan in place, nobody has automatic permission to manage for you. Somebody, hopefully somebody you want, must go to court, and get a Judge to give them permission.
Then that person must answer to the Judge every year with a report, inventory, and accounting of what you have. That puts what you own in the public record ruining your and your family’s privacy. Companies watch these records just waiting to pounce. Once they know that there is money available, they’ll present offers. Some of these are legitimate. Others are just financial predators trying to prey on your family and you.
This also applies to your medical decisions. Nobody but you has permission to make your medical decisions for you unless you give them permission. And the permission must be done the right way to be honored by the medical professionals.
Finally, traditionally planning is about passing your property on to the next generation. This is what Wills and Trusts are for. Trusts also help protect and manage your property during your lifetime. I’m not going to get into the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of these now. Suffice it to say that you can pass property on without creating more legal hassles and expenses than necessary.
Planning starts with a free no obligation consultation.
Schedule your consultation at plan with Gary dot com.
An Understanding of special needs trusts is important for those people in your life that need protection. Special needs trusts help protect special people.
Hi, I’m Gary DeWitt, Estate Planning Attorney in Northwest Arkansas.
Understanding Special Needs Trusts: Major Types
Special needs trusts come in many different types that fulfill different purposes.
For your understanding, you need to know that special needs trusts come in 2 major types.
Understanding Special Needs Trusts: First Person Trust
The first is the “first person” special needs trust. This is a trust setup for a person’s own money. For example, if somebody that is on benefits got hurt in a car accident and received a large lump sum settlement, a “first person” special needs trust would be used. This type of trust has one major drawback; Medicaid gets the first opportunity to get paid out of the trust at the person’s death. You may sometimes hear these referred to as the pooled trust or a d(4)(a) trust.
Understanding Special Needs Trusts: Third Person Trust
The second is the “third person” special needs trust. This type of trust holds money that never belongs to the person with special needs. So, if mom and dad have life insurance, they can have it paid into a third party special needs trust. Because the money is only used for the person’s benefit, but doesn’t ever belong to them, the person putting the money into can leave further instructions.
I will show you how to protect what you have today, and what you leave your kids tomorrow. You’ll be able to take advantage of my estate planning legal strategies without you or your loved ones having to deal with Probate Courts, long delays, and death tax.
Traditionally estate is defined as the interest you have in property. Property is anything you can own including, but not limited to land, houses, cars, patents, money, stocks, bonds, and more.
You can also think of an estate as a collection of stuff. Your stuff. The stuff you own individually and with others. Wherever it is and whatever it is.
If you think of an estate as a collection, it can be divided up multiple ways, just like a collection can. Think of a record collection. You can divide it by artist. You can divide it by producer. You can divide it by year. Your estate can be divided too into separate parts. For Probate, you have your Probate estate and non-Probate estate. That is, the property subject to going through court oversight, and the property that passes outside of Probate Court.
But, in addition to just being stuff, your Estate can be thought of as including your choices. Your financial, legal, and healthcare choices are part of your personal estate just as much as any tangible property is. You often don’t think about these things until it is too late and you end up in court. Then your family ends up in court to get permission to make decisions for you. And it might not be the person or people you would have picked.