Understanding How You Can Protect Your Wishes as Recorded in Your Estate Plan

When you make the decision to create an estate plan, you likely put a lot of time and thought into getting that plan into place and making sure that it accomplishes exactly what you want. For this reason, almost anybody who puts in the effort of establishing a plan would also want to be sure that their wishes are protected from being undone after they’re gone. Depending on the laws in your state, a “no-contest” clause may be a viable solution.

“No-contest” clauses, also known as “terror” clauses (or, in some cases, by the Latin “in terrororem”,) are provisions inserted into estate planning documents like will or trusts. They state that, if a beneficiary under that document goes to court to challenge the legal validity of the document, and loses, then that beneficiary, regardless of what the plan document originally said, receives nothing.

These clauses can be very effective in some cases. For example, assume that your estate plan leaves one of your beneficiaries the flat sum of $75,000. Also assume that, if your estate plan were ruled invalid by a court and your assets were divided up according to your state’s intestacy laws, that same beneficiary would receive $250,000. A “no-contest” forces that beneficiary to consider carefully whether or not she can win in court, as a defeat in court means loses a significant sum — that being the $75,000 distribution.

A well-drafted “no-contest” clause will likely differentiate between a beneficiary who files a court challenge seeking to invalidate your estate plan and one who goes to court seeking a clarification of some aspect of your plan that is unclear. Even carefully drafted plan documents can sometimes have provisions that are ambiguous or vague. Most people would not want to punish their beneficiaries for asking a judge to make a ruling that clarifies a confusing provision, assuming that the beneficiary is not asking the judge to throw out the plan entirely.

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It is important to bear in mind that “no-contest” clauses are not legal in all states. Some states have decided that they violate public policy and have declared that they are unenforceable. In some states, the enforceability of a “no-contest” clause depends on whether the clause is placed in a will or a living trust. In Michigan, for example, the legislature passed a law declaring “no-contest” clauses in wills unenforceable. Because the law didn’t mention living trusts, the state Supreme Court there decided a few years ago that “no-contest” clauses in living trusts are allowable. So, if you live in Michigan (or a state whose law mirrors Michigan’s,) and you want to protect your wishes you’ve set up in your plan, you may want to consider utilizing a living trust in order to gain the added benefit of a valid and enforceable “no-contest” clause, in addition to the other potential advantages offered by a living trust.

Summary: “No-contest” clauses can serve important purposes in protecting the wishes you’ve enshrined in your estate plan. These clauses may provide a power financial disincentive that discourages disgruntled beneficiaries from using the courts in order to invalidate your plan and obtain a larger portion of your wealth as a result. “No-contest” clauses are not legal in every circumstance, however. The laws in your state may not allow them. In some states, “no-contest” clauses are allowed in living trusts and not in wills, which may provide an addition reason for residents of those states to consider using living trusts.


Digital Estate Planning and Estate Plan Reviews | Legacy Assurance Plan

If you are looking for digital estate planning?  Legacy Assurance plan will made you convinced for the decent knowledge about this new technologies. These days, more and more people of all ages are living more and more of their lives online. As that percentage continues to increase, estate planners continue to “bang the drum” of including your online and digital assets when you formulate your estate plan. Having a plan that allows your loved ones, after you’re gone, not only to have the benefit of your tangible assets, but also your electronic things, is essential. What’s also vital is making sure that you keep your digital estate plan in mind when it comes time for an estate plan review.

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When one crafts an estate plan, the things one leaves behind usually have either financial value or sentimental value. Digital assets are no different. Many people may think to include their access codes for their online banking or stock accounts, but may not be as diligent when it comes to, say, social media. All of these are important, though. Just as that old shoe box full of photographs and old letters probably has great value to someone in your family, so do your images saved in your smartphone or on your Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook accounts, or personal messages in your email.


Without a digital estate plan, gaining access to your electronic assets can be difficult or sometimes next-to-impossible. The internet is filled with stories of loved ones faced enormous challenges from Yahoo! or Apple or other electronic service providers when it comes to gaining access to an account of a deceased loved one. These battles often come at a price of great stress and considerable time for the loved one. If a court and/or lawyers must become involved, then it becomes stressful, time-consuming AND expensive!


Just like estate planning for tangible assets, estate planning for digital assets is an ongoing process, not a one-time deal. An estate plan review is great time to make sure that everything in your plan is up-to-date. Not only should ask yourself if you’ve undergone any life events that might affect your plan, you should also inquire about your digital assets. Just like you might need to contemplate how a new grandchild might impact your plan, you should also make sure that changes in your online accounts are reflected. If you opened a new account, whether it’s a new online banking account or a new email account, make sure that your digital plan includes the necessary username and password information for accessing that account. If you’ve changed any of your passwords, you should make sure that your list of existing usernames and passwords is still 100% accurate. If you have relocated your list of usernames and passwords to a new location, make certain that your instructions to your loved ones regarding how to access this list once you’re gone are current.


Summary: Sometimes, we overlook how much little personal items will mean to our loved ones after we’re gone. Your old photos and letters might seem trivial, but to a loved one, it might be an invaluable way to stay close after you’re gone. In this age of email, Facebook and Instagram, accessing those memories may mean going online. To help keep your memory alive for your loved ones, your estate plan should include appropriate instructions for accessing your digital assets. Additionally, you should review your plan routinely to make sure that all parts of your estate plan, including your digital estate plan, is current and up-to-date. For more information about this or other estate planning matters, contact Legacy Assurance Plan at 844.306.5272

Legacy Assurance Plan Of America – Minimizing Your Chances of Estate Plan Challenges

A 20th Century American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, composed something many now know as the “Serenity Prayer,” in which the speaker seeks “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” Estate planning can be a lot like that. One of the keys to success in estate planning is to plan to avoid the problems that are preventable, to understand that not all problems are avoidable, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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While you cannot always prevent people from mounting legal challenges to your estate plan, you can take steps to minimize the odds of that event happening. This is particularly true if your plan includes some less than “cookie-cutter” provisions, such as unequal distributions between children or grandchildren. One of the keys to reducing this risk of a challenge is communication. If you are leaving uneven distributions, sit down with your family and explain why you crafted the plan as you did. Alternately, you may consider documenting on paper the reasons for your decisions, so that the trustee of your trust or executor of your will has evidence in the event of a legal contest.

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Your estate plan is your legacy, so it should reflect your desires and objectives. However, if your loved ones better understand why you made the choices you did, it may help them be more accepting and less likely to go to court.

Another way to minimize the risk of challenge resulting from unequal distributions is to make gifts during your lifetime. If you have a loved one whom you believe deserves or needs a larger share of your wealth, you can make that happen outside your will or trust. Giving gifts to that loved one during your lifetime can offer multiple benefits, as it may allow you to create unequal total distributions while maintaining equal distributions within your will or trust, and it may also offer your some tax benefits, as well.

Additionally, you can use a negative financial motivator to attempt to reduce the chances of a challenge. You may include a “no contest” clause in your plan. This clause is language that says that a beneficiary who undertakes a legal contest to your plan forfeits the right to receive his/her distribution he/she otherwise would have received under your plan. Be aware, though, these clause are not legally enforceable in all states.

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Finally, an essential key to minimizing the risk of a court battle is to work with experienced legal professionals. Your experienced estate planning team can give you the advice you need to make sure that your plan is as “contest-proof” as it can be.

Summary: The estate plan you create is your legacy Assurance plan  and should reflect the estate planning goals you want to accomplish. Sometimes, a loved one may not agree with your goals and may seek to contest your plan in court after you die. While you cannot erect a plan that is completely “contest-proof”, you can take steps to minimize this risk. Your estate planning legal professional can help you understand your options for reducing this potential hazard.

Legacy Assurance Plan Of America – Planning to Protect Your Assets and Avoid Probate, Too

The process of estate planning involves taking inventory, not only of your wealth, but also of your needs and desires. Whether or not a particular planning technique makes sense for you may depend, in whole or in part, on whether your estate planning objectives do or do not include certain goals, as well as whether your estate does or does not include certain risk factors. Carefully assessing all of these things is an important early step in the process of reaching a well-thought out estate plan.

For many people, avoiding the probate process, with its potentially large fees and consumption of time, is a central objective. For a lot of those people, a revocable living trust may represent a viable way of leaving a legacy, providing for your loved ones and escaping the lost time and money that comes with going through probate administration. Depending on the makeup of your estate and the laws of your state, you may have other options in addition to living trusts that may allow you to avoid the probate process. In some states, the laws regarding death beneficiary designations have been broadened to the point that you may be able to transfer most or all of your wealth using pay-on-death or transfer-on-death techniques. In some cases, though, a living trust may still provide you with valuable benefits even though your state allows you to transfer your assets using death beneficiary designations.

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Another objective some people have is asset protection. These people want to have the peace of mind that their money will pass to their loved ones, not their creditors. Implementing certain types of irrevocable trusts may protect your assets in some situations.

In the past, people with issues regarding creditors have avoided creating living trusts because they were less advantageous than probate when it can to putting creditors “on the clock” to make a claim for payment. The executor of an asset must give notice to all of a deceased person’s creditors and then, once that notice is sent, the creditor only has a few months to demand payment. If that period passes before the creditor acts, the creditor forfeits that claim forever. With living trusts, the creditor’s time period to act could be two years or more.

Today, though, in some states, the trustee of a living trust has the option to serve notice on creditors when a trustor dies. Submitting this optional notice to creditors subjects them to the same limited time-period as a creditor who received notice from a probate estate’s executor. This way, you can have both the asset protection of a limited time period for creditor action, as well as the probate-avoidance and other benefits that come with a living trust.

Legacy Assurance plan of America Probate-Attorney-living trust  All of this is meant to highlight the multitude of options that exist for your estate plan, in order to ensure that your plan best fits your needs and goals. The key, of course, is to take that first step and being putting your plan in place right away.

Summary: Estate plans can be customized to meet a variety of different desires and objectives. Your plan may include revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts death beneficiary designation ownership techniques, or a combination of tools. Whether you seek to avoid probate, protect your estate against creditors or achieve other goals, a well-thought out plan can get you to the outcome you seek.

Legacy Assurance Plan – Taking Control to Plan for Your Final Arrangements

We all deal with the idea of our own mortality in different ways. Some may begin pursuing the completion of a “Bucket List,” pre-designing and purchasing their own grave marker, or reconnecting with the religious faith from which they’d fallen away. In some cases, people have staged full-scale dress “rehearsals” of their own funerals, just so all of their loved ones and service providers are clear regarding their preferences for that event. If you’re concerned about the manner in which your funeral will be carried out, estate planning offers an alternative to resorting to staging a dress rehearsal of your funeral.


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In some states, such as Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Utah (among others,) the law gives you the right to designate an agent who holds the authority to carry out all decisions regarding your final arrangements. Just like naming an agent (or agents) under a living will or a power of attorney, it is important to communicate clearly and carefully to make certain that the person (or people) you name as your agent(s) are clear about your preferences and will faithfully carry them out. Even if your daughter is your closest loved one, you may not want to name her as your sole funeral planning agent if she wants your remains to be interred in sacred ground somewhere, but you want your ashes scattered at sea.

In other states, such as West Virginia, Vermont, Oklahoma, Indiana and Illinois (among others,) you not only have the right to appoint an agent to make decisions regarding your final arrangements, you can also expressly state your wishes. Some of these forms allow you to include considerable detail. The Indiana declaration, for example, contains specific sections where you can state whether you will be buried, cremated or entombed and what mortuary will provide your funeral services. You can also include instructions for ceremonial arrangements and your grave memorial. If you prefer, you can also simply elect to leave all decisions in the hands of your agent.

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In some states, this agent designation or declaration of directives may be contained in a larger legal document, such as a healthcare power of attorney or a living will; in others, they are placed in a separate document. It is important to make sure you are working with an experienced estate planning legal team so that you can be confident that the documents you sign meet your state’s statutory requirements and will carry the legal authority needed to do what you want. Also, just like any other part of your estate plan, it is vital to make sure that your funeral planning documents work “in synch” with the rest of your plan and are reviewed routinely and updated as needed.

Summary: For some people, one of the most important aspects of their end-of-life planning revolves around their funeral and other final arrangements. Fortunately, the laws in many states allow you to create a legal document through which you can take control over your final arrangements. Just as with any other part of estate planning, it is important to consider these decisions carefully before making your choices and work with the right legal team to make sure that your plan will make your desires come to fruition.

Estate Planning For Families With Special Needs Loved Ones: Beyond Just Creating a Supplemental Needs Trust

If you have a child or other loved one with special needs who receives benefits through programs with needs-based qualification rules, you are probably already aware that your loved coming into money can have harmful consequences. The receipt of substantial assets, including through inheritance, can disqualify your loved one from continuing to receive the benefits upon which he or she has come to rely. One way to leave a portion of your wealth to your loved one with special needs, while avoiding this disastrous disqualification scenario, is the creation of a supplemental needs trust (also called a special needs trust.) However, if your estate also includes IRAs, you’ll want to take care regarding how you fund this special needs trust.

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One plan that is almost always the wrong move is to name your loved one with special needs as the death beneficiary of your IRA. Your death would create a “Catch-22” of bad choices. Taking the required minimum distribution from the account very likely will result in your loved one losing eligibility and losing his/her benefits. Failure to take required distribution will trigger severe penalties from the IRS.


In certain situations, the solution to this problem is to name the special needs trust you’ve created for your loved one as the beneficiary of your IRA. The rules governing needs-based program eligibility say that, as long as the beneficiary does not possess direct control over the assets in a special needs trusts, that wealth does not count against him or her. This generally means having a trustee manage the trust who is not the beneficiary.

In some cases, though, naming your loved one’s special needs trust as the beneficiary of your IRA can be tricky. The rules controlling IRAs allow you greater flexibility when you name a person as the beneficiary. An individual has a specific life expectancy, so the tax code allows for the stretching out of distributions from the inherited account over the span of that beneficiary’s life expectancy. This lets you keep a larger amount of principal in the account, which can continue to grow income tax-free. If the special needs trust you’ve created names your loved one as the primary beneficiary during his/her lifetime, but then names a favored charity to receive the assets that remain after your special needs loved one’s death, then that stretching option is not available.


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So what should you make of all this? More than anything, it is that leaving an inheritance to a loved one with special needs requires prompt and very thoughtful planning. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning team who can lay out all of your options and explain them in an understandable way. That way, you can have the peace of mind that you’ve not only taken care of your loved one, but have done so in the most financially efficient way possible.

Summary: Leaving a portion of your assets for the benefit of a loved one with special needs, and who receives needs-based benefits, requires engaging in careful estate planning. Implementing a special needs trust is often a vital component of such a plan. If you have wealth in an IRA, you can use that asset to benefit your special needs loved one, but you should be very diligent in this area of your planning in order to ensure that you neither place your loved one’s benefits at risk nor trigger certain tax penalties related to how the IRA’s funds are distributed.