Paul Rampell is a Florida attorney specializing in trusts & estates who has over forty years of experience.
Excerpts from Paul Rampell’s book Immortality Made Easy: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Wills, Trusts, Probate, Marriage and Foundations*
*But didn’t want to pay $500 to some lawyer to find out
What is a “devise”?
A gift, usually of real estate, under a will or a trust. It can be used as a noun or verb: “I devise my swampland to…” or “I received a devise under my boss’s will, can you believe it?”
Why would someone choose an irrevocable trust?
Mostly to remove an irrevocable trust’s assets from his or her estate, reduce the size of an estate, lower death taxes and provide goodies to the beneficiaries of the irrevocable trust. If a Grantor places property into an irrevocable trust and gives up control of the property and the trust, he makes a gift so that the property no longer belongs to him and, usually, is excluded from his estate.
What are the basic steps in probate?
First, the will is submitted to a judge, and if it is determined to be valid, it is “admitted to probate.” Second, an executor is appointed. Third, notice of probate administration is published in a local newspaper and, usually, mailed to known creditors of the deceased. Fourth, an inventory of assets held in the deceased’s name is filed in court. Fifth, claims of creditors are examined – if the claims are valid, they’re paid; if the claims are invalid, they’re not paid. Sixth, beneficiaries begin to receive part or all of their inheritances. Seventh, after all federal and state taxing authorities confirm that all death taxes have been paid, a final accounting of monies received and distributed is filed. Eighth, if all has gone well, the probate judge discharges the executor from further responsibilities and the estate is closed. Obviously, will contests can change everything.
I have two sons, Cain and Abel. Guess what? Cain is bad and Abel is good. Cain is an alcoholic, cocaine addict, womanizer, goof-off and has every other vice in America. Abel is a hardworking family man who attends church every Sunday and lives a conservative lifestyle. What should I leave them?
In the final analysis, whatever makes you feel good and fair.
You could leave them equal amounts of money, but give Abel his inheritance outright and place Cain’s inheritance in a spendthrift trust with incentives for good condut.
Warren Buffett, the wholesome Midwestern billionaire, is opposed to providing children with a “lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb.” As a different viewpoint, Joseph P. Kennedy supposedly gave each of his children $1,000,000 with no strings attached when they reached age twenty-one so that they could devote their lives to public service.
Choices in wills are personal and here are not hard-and-fast, right-or-wrong answers.
My spouse and I own everything jointly. What happens if we both die at the same time?
In most states, a simultaneous death law addresses this situation. Under most of these laws, each of you will be deemed to own a one-half interest in all jointly owned assets. The assets will pass according to the terms of your two wills, probated separately, or distributed according to other state laws in the event that you die without wills. When signing wills, you can direct the sequence of your death, if it cannot be determined (out of the wreckage, etc.) and the sequence that you select will be followed.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.