Estate Planning Basics

At some point, everyone needs to give serious thought to their estate plan. Learn about the basics of estate planning and disability planning, including writing a will, setting up a trust, and establishing power of attorney for medical decisions.
Woman signing will
Understanding Your Will: What Does "Per Stirpes" Mean?
Couple talking to lawyer
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A woman looks at her deceased parent’s debts while speaking on the phone with a probate attorney.
What to Know About Dealing with Debts and Mortgages in Probate
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Are Life Insurance Death Benefits Subject to Estate Tax?
Your inheritance may be affected by an inheritance tax (property), capital gains tax (proceeds from sale of inherited property), or an estate tax (tax on property value) Only six states collect inheritance taxes No need to report an inheritance on taxes, but some properties come with tax consequences Capital gains tax affects the difference between the value of an asset and the amount you sell it for Consult with an estate planning attorney if you’re unsure about how taxes will affect your inheritance
Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Inheritance?
Image shows a desk covered in documents, a laptop, a notebook, and a calculator. Text reads: "How to make a personal budget: step 1: gather all financial statements. step 2: calculate your income. step 3: create a list of monthly expenses. step 4: determine fixed and variable expenses. step 5: total your monthly income and expenses. step 6: make adjustments to expenses."
Your 6-Step Guide to Making a Personal Budget
Information Needed to Make a Living Trust
Find out If a Revocable Living Trust Is Right for You and How It Works
Estate behind a gate
Who Needs to Pay Federal Estate Taxes?
Family meeting with insurance agent
What Is an Irrevocable Trust?
Grandparents smile at their infant grandchild.
What Is FBO?
Financial advisor trustee meeting with couple
What Is a Trustee?
Portrait of young couple hugging and smiling in front of their new home
Should You Own Property as Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship?
the words "Last Will and Testament" printed on typing paper
The Basics of Intestate Heir Law As It Applies to Inheritance
Elderly woman writing at home
Do You Need a Revocable Living Trust or Only a Will?
Overhead view of two judges talking in a courthouse corridor
Probate Judges—What They Are and What They Do
Flatline cardiogram and stethoscope over background of a $100 bill, representing the assets of a deceased individual
The Pros and Cons of Using TOD Accounts to Avoid Probate
Smiling father and son looking over paperwork on a table
Trust Fund Options for Paying Adult Beneficiaries Their Inheritances
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How Much Can You Claim for Funeral Expense Deductions?
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Tenants by the Entirety: Does Your State Recognize This Ownership?
A man holding paperwork out to a woman across a desk and explaining it
What Happens When a Beneficiary Predeceases the Person Making the Will?
Closeup of a woman's hands signing a last will and testament
Wills, Trusts, and Estates: Facts You Need to Know
A Couple Meeting With Lawyer discussing a pour-over will.
When You Need a Pour-Over Will in Estate Planning
A senior couple at home using a computer.
Why You or a Loved One Need to Hire an Elder Law Attorney
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What Is an Enhanced Life Estate Deed?
Father and son standing beside a woodpile outside a barn
What Is a Life Estate?
locate request probate records
A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Probate Records Online
Newlyweds holding hands
What Is Community Property?
Older couple signing papers with younger attorney
Find out How Long You Can Expect Probate Proceedings to Take
Living Trust and Estate Planning Documents
Learn What a Successor Trustee Does With Your Trust After You Die
Mature couple meeting with a financial advisor in a casual white office
Joint and POD Accounts Avoid Probate But Aren't Foolproof
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Learn the Differences Between Revocable and Irrevocable Living Trusts
Mature woman hugs her two dogs in the mountains
What Is a Pet Trust?
Woman advising old man on paperwork
Learn the Difference Between Per Stirpes and Per Capita Distributions
Grandfather and granddaughter
The Generation-Skipping Tax and How to Avoid It
Senior woman and lawyers reviewing paperwork at a dining room table
How Will Probate Affect Your Tenants-in-Common Property?
Grandparent and child fishing
How To Leave an Inheritance to Your Grandchildren
Couple discussing a living will with an estate attorney
Do You Need a Living Will, a Living Trust, or Both?
Last Will and Testament
4 Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will
Mourners gathered at a funeral
What Is Ancillary Probate?
Person in purple tank top embracing child in their arms
What Is an Heir?
Here Are Some Tips on How to Get a Copy of a Deceased Person's Will
What Are the Responsibilities of a Power of Attorney After a Death?
Elderly couple reviewing papers on sofa
What Is a Grantor Trust?
Senior couple looking over paperwork at their computer
Rights You Might Have As Someone's Heir-at-Law
A couple stands with their baby in front of a large glass door.
What Is a Credit Shelter Trust?
A nurse supporting an elderly woman as she stands at an open door
How Filial Responsibility Impacts Your Parents' Medical Bills
keys to home with budget sheet and calculator
Types of Property Ownership
Laughing older couple seated on the porch of their home, overlooking waterway
Paying Too Much for Property Taxes? Your Age Can Make a Difference.
Man holding an umbrella over a stack of coins to give protection of assets from rain
How to Create an Asset Protection Plan to Shield From Creditors
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Avoid Probate With a Payable on Death (POD) Account
Woman helping older couple with documents
Is Writing Your Own Will a Good Idea?
File cabinet drawer
Here's How to Settle a Revocable Trust After the Trustmaker Dies
Group of men and women seated in front of desk with copies of a will
How and When You'll Know If You've Been Named in a Will
Image shows an elderly, heterosexual couple signing a document. Text reads: "Revocable living trust benefits: avoid the court-supervised probate process; maintain your privacy; prepare for mental disability"
What Are the Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust vs. a Will?
Last Will
Executors Are Entitled to Payment for Services, But How Much?
solvent vs. insolvent estates. person sitting at desk looking at past due bills
Can Adult Children Inherit a Parent's Debts?
A fountain pen rests on a living trust & estate plan document
5 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan
Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed
Transfer-on-Death Deeds Can Avoid Probate
Closeup of probate court hearing notice and a pen
How a Personal Representative Manages Your Estate
This illustration describes what happens to a house when the owner dies including "Process depends on whether it's a probate or non-probate asset," "Probate assets must go through a court-supervised process," "Non-probate assets already have beneficiaries in place," "Who inherits probate assets depends on the will or testament," and "If there's no will or testament, intestacy laws dictate new ownership."
Understanding Ownership of Property When an Owner or Joint Owner Dies

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