Living Trusts

A will may not be the best plan for you and your family - primarily because a will does not avoid probate when you die. A will must be filed with the probate court before it can be enforced. Also, because a will can only go into effect after you die, it provides no protection if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Therefore a guardianship proceeding with the probate court would be necessary to manage your assets. Fortunately, there is a simple and proven alternative to a will - the revocable living trust. It avoids probate, and lets you keep control of your assets while you are living - even if you become incapacitated - and after you die.

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Estate Taxes

Depending on how much you own when you die, your estate may have to pay estate taxes before your assets can be fully distributed. Estate taxes are different from, and in addition to, probate expenses (which can be avoided with a revocable living trust) and final income taxes (on income you receive in the year you die). Some states also have their own death/inheritance taxes.

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Who Should Be the Beneficiary of Your IRA?

How would you like to turn your modest tax-deferred account into millions for your family? Depending on whom you name as beneficiary, you can keep this money growing tax-deferred for not only your and your spouse's lifetimes, but also for your children's or grandchildren's lifetimes. That can turn even a modest inheritance into millions.

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Understanding Corporate Trustees

A corporate trustee is a bank trust department or trust company. They can help you build, manage and protect your wealth when you put your assets in a trust.

A trust is simply a legal document that lets you reduce unnecessary legal fees, save taxes and keep control over your assets while you are living, if you become physically or mentally incapacitated, and after you die.

When you set up a trust, you need to name someone (a trustee) to manage the assets your trust controls. While you can choose just about any adult, there are very good reasons why you should consider a corporate trustee.

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Charitable Remainder Trusts

A CRT lets you convert a highly appreciated asset (stock, real estate, etc.) into lifetime income. It reduces your income taxes now and estate taxes when you die, and you pay no capital gains tax when the asset is sold. Plus, it lets you help a charity(ies) that has special meaning to you.

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Understanding the Duties and Responsibilities of a Successor Trustee

If you have been named as the successor trustee in someone's living trust, you may be wondering what you are supposed to do. You can relax a bit, because you don't do anything right now. You will only begin to act when the person becomes unable to manage his or her financial affairs due to incapacity, or when he or she dies.

However, it is important that you know ahead of time what your duties and responsibilities will be. These FAQs will help. Let's start with some explanations.

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