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  • Estate Planning Essentials Back Cover (1)

Estate Planning Essentials

EstateBee’s Estate Planning Essentials introduces you to estate planning and shows you how you can make an effective estate plan quickly and easily without the need for a lawyer. You’ll learn about estate planning devices such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, probate avoidance methods and more. To help you get a fuller understanding, particular attention is paid throughout to beneficiaries, children, disinheritance, incapacity, estate taxes and inheritance taxes. If you want to prepare an estate plan, this book is for you.

  • Determine what assets you can gift to your loved ones.
  • Decide how best to do that to avoid delays and costs.
  • Provide for children and other beneficiaries.
  • Plan for medical incapacity.
  • Save on legal fees & taxes.
  • And much more….


Estate planning may be described as the process of providing for the future management of your affairs should the time come when you are unable to do so yourself. It is also the means by which you arrange your affairs in a manner that will maximize the value of your estate passing to your desired beneficiaries following your death.” [Extract from Estate Planning Essentials]

If you don’t have a comprehensive estate plan, or indeed any plan at all, these are just some of the things that you should expect:

  • Your assets may be frozen and their value may deplete as a result – If you become incapacitated prior to your death, your family (including your spouse) may be left powerless to manage and deal with your assets (unless you have made a durable power of attorney). This can cause a depletion in the value of your assets if they need to be sold or managed in order to preserve value. Your family may even be prevented from selling your assets to raise funds to pay for your healthcare costs (if necessary).
  • Your family will have to make difficult medical decisions for you – If you haven’t made (1) a living will to instruct your medical teams regarding your desired medical treatment or (2) a healthcare power of attorney to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself, then all of these decisions will fall to be made by a family member chosen by a court in accordance with state law. The person chosen may not be someone you would wish to have such responsibility or power. Worse still, without any advance instructions from you, they may make medical decisions on your behalf that you would not have wanted.
  • You will have no control over how your assets are distributed – Unless you have made a Last Will & Testament, placed your assets in a Living Trust or utilised transfer on death provisions for bank and brokerage accounts, your assets will be distributed in accordance with your state’s intestacy laws and any wishes that you have will be ignored.
  • Payment of unnecessary probate fees & long delays – If you allow your most valuable assets to go through probate, the value of your estate may be substantially depleted due to high probate fees incurred. Moreover, most of your assets will be frozen during the probate process and your beneficiaries may have to wait several months (or even, in the worst case scenario, years) to receive their inheritances. This can cause short term hardship if your family need access to funds and/or assets from your estate. By having a Revocable Living Trust in your estate plan, you should be able avoid these fees and delays for the most part.
  • No control over who cares for your children – In the absence of appointing a guardian to take care of your children after your death, a court will usually decide on that. If you nominate a guardian under a last will and testament or otherwise, that will hold a lot of persuasive authority in the eyes of the court as it will want to do what is in the best interests of your children and will be guided by your wishes in that respect – that is of course if you have formally set them out.
  • No long-term property management arrangements for your children – You can, for the most part, only make these arrangements using a last will or a living trust. In the absence of making these arrangements, a court will appoint a guardian of its choosing to manage any inheritances that your children might receive. Again, that may not be a person you want managing your children’s inheritance.
  • No control over who wraps up your affairs – State intestacy laws will determine who is appointed as your personal representative and who will be responsible for closing your estate.

To help you easily understand the estate planning process and the options available to you, our lawyers have put together a plain English and easy to understand book on estate planning. It’s called “Estate Planning Essentials“. We invite you to read it……

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Estate Planning Basics

What is Estate Planning?

What’s Included in Your Estate?

How to Plan Your Estate Do I Need to Plan My Estate?

Children and Guardians

Choosing Beneficiaries

Last Will and Testament

Revocable Living Trusts

Executors and Probate

Assets that Don’t go Through Probate

Planning for Incapacity – Power of Attorney for Finance and Property

Planning for Incapacity – Advance Healthcare Directives

Living Wills

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Reducing Taxes on Your Estate

Funeral Arrangements


Chapter 2 - Children, Guardians and Property Management

What is a Guardian?

Sole and Joint Guardians

Alternate Guardians

Appointment of a Guardian

Who Can be a Guardian?

Should You Appoint Guardians for Your Minor Children?

What to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for Your Child

What Happens When No Guardian is Named in Your Will?

Management of Children’s Property

Options for Property Management

Appointment of a Property Guardian

Uniform Transfer to Minors’ Act

Individual Child Trusts

Children’s Pot Trusts

Providing for Children with Special Needs

Whom Should You Choose as a Trustee?

Trustee’s Duties

Chapter 3 - Gifts and Beneficiaries

Gifting Your Assets

How to Make a Gift

Types of Gifts

Specific Item Gifts

Cash Gifts

Gift of the Residuary Estate

Types of Beneficiaries

Specific Gift Beneficiary

Alternate Beneficiary

Residuary Beneficiary

Who May Not be a Beneficiary?

Changing Beneficiaries

Gifts to Spouses

Community Property States

Common Law States

Gifts to Minors

Unmarried or Same-Sex Couples

Gifts to Charities

Failed Gifts

Imposing Conditions on the Receipt of Gifts


Disinheriting a Spouse

Disinheriting a Child

Matters Affecting the Distribution of Your Assets

Simultaneous Death

Homestead Allowance

Family Allowance for Support

The Exemption for the Benefit of the Family

Right to Remain in the Family Home

Right to Receive Family Residence

Right to Automobiles

Right to Reimbursement of Funeral Costs

Abatement of Assets

Disclaimed Inheritances

Finalizing Your Plan

Lawsuits by Spouses

Disinheriting Your Children

Chapter 4 - Last Will and Testaments

About Wills

Principal Components of a Will

Types of Wills

Making a Valid Will

Age of Majority

Mental Capacity and Undue Influence

Why Make a Will?


Alternate Executors

Overview of Executors’ Duties

Who Should be Your Executor?

Executing a Will

Matters that can Impact Wills

No Contest Clauses

Challenging a Will


Apportionment and Distribution of Assets on Intestacy

Share of Surviving Spouse

Share of Descendents

Share of Parents

Share of Other Relatives

Do-it-Yourself Wills

Do I Need a Lawyer

Chapter 5 - Executors & Probate

What is an Executor?

What is Probate?

Who can be Your Executor?

An Overview of an Executor’s Duties, Powers and Risks

Powers of an Executor

Executor’s Liability

Protecting Your Executor from Liability

Protection Under the Terms of Your Will

Obtain the Consent of Beneficiaries

Take out an Executor’s Insurance Bond

Obtain the Consent of the Probate Court

Compensating your Executor

Chapter 6 - Powers of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?

Types of Powers of Attorney

General Power of Attorney

Limited Power of Attorney

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Ordinary and Durable Powers of Attorney

Springing Powers of Attorney

Mutual Powers of Attorney

Cascading Powers of Attorney

Capacity to Make a Power of Attorney

What Does “Being Incapable or Incapacitated” Mean?

Should I Make a Power of Attorney?

What Happens Without a Power of Attorney?

What if You Don’t Think You Need a Power of Attorney?


Living Trusts

Joint Tenancy

The Relationship Between Principal and Agent

Who Can be an Agent?

Joint or Joint and Independent Agents

Alternate Agents

Scope of an Agent’s Powers

Duties and Responsibilities of an Agent

Choosing an Agent

What Laws Govern My Power of Attorney?

Witness to a Power of Attorney

Commencement of a Power of Attorney

Revocation of a Power of Attorney

Important Points & Recommendation

Chapter 7 - Advance Medical Directives

What is an Advance Medical Directive?

Why do I Need an Advance Medical Directive?

Living Wills and Their Background

How Living Wills Work

What is a Terminal Condition?

What is a Persistent Comatose Condition?

What is a Persistent Vegetative Condition?

What Life Support Choices Do I Have Within My Living Will?

Should I Make a Living Will?

State Requirements for Life Sustaining Medical Treatment

Witness Requirements

Appointing an Agent to Revoke or Enforce Your Living Will

Finalizing Your Living Will

Terminating Advance Directives

Family Discussions

Making Your Wishes Known

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Choosing a Healthcare Agent

Alternate Healthcare Agent

Do I Need a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will?


Chapter 8 - Probate Avoidance Measures

Probate Avoidance

Pay on Death or Transfer on Death Accounts

Transfer on Death Securities

Retirement Accounts

Joint Accounts

Custodial Accounts

Savings Bonds

Life Insurance Proceeds

Joint Ownership of Property

Joint Tenancy

Tenancy by the Entireties

Tenancy in Common

Community Property

Revocable Living Trust

Gifts During Your Lifetime

Probate Free Transfers of Assets

Simplified Transfer Procedures for “Small Estates”

Chapter 9 - Revocable Living Trusts

What are Living Trusts?

Advantages of Living Trusts

Disadvantages of Living Trusts

The Role of the Initial Trustee

Appointing a Co-Trustee

Successor Trustees

The Role of the Successor Trustee

Role of Successor Trustee

During the Incapacity of the Grantor

Role of Successor Trustee Following the Death of the Grantor

Fiduciary Duties of the Successor Trustee

Changing Trustees

The Beneficiaries of Your Living Trust

Types of Living Trust

Living Trust for an Individual

Living Trusts for Couples

Transferring Assets to Your Living Trust

What Assets Should be Put in Your Living Trust?

Title to Assets Transferred to a Living Trust

Transferring Property to Your Trust

Real Estate

Cars, Boats and Other Vehicles

Cash Accounts

United States Savings Bonds

Broker Accounts

Publicly Quoted Stocks and Bonds

Retirement Plans

Other Property

Revocation of your Living Trust

Pour-Over Wills

Chapter 10 - Educational Trusts and Pet Trusts

Educational Trusts

Pet Trusts

Can I Provide for My Pet Under a Will?

Setting Up a Pet Trust

Pet Guardian Options

Legal Owner of a Pet

Chapter 11 - Estate Taxes

Estate Taxes

Federal Estate and Gift Tax

Everyone’s “Coupon”

What is the “Coupon” Amount?

How to Determine the Estate Tax?

State Death Tax

State Death Taxes are Paid by the Estate

The Recipient Pays State Inheritance Taxes

“Pick-Up” Taxes

Marital Deduction Non-Citizen Spouses

Charitable Deductions

Charitable Remainder Trust

Charitable Lead Trust

Other Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes

Lifetime Gifts

QTIP Trust

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

Family Limited Partnerships

Special Use Real Estate


Chapter 12 - Same-Sex Married Couples, Unmarried Couples, And Divorced Couples

Same-Sex Married Couples

Unmarried Couples—Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Partners

Divorced Couples

Chapter 13 - The Family Business

Creating a Business Estate Plan

Creating a Succession Plan

Business Estate Planning Options

Multiple Owners

Chapter 14 - Digital Estate Planning

Preparing a Digital Estate Plan

Making an Inventory of Digital Assets

Safely Storing Digital Assets

Choosing a Digital Executor

Instructions Regarding Your Digital Estate

Chapter 15 - Finalizing Your Plan

Deciding What Should be in Your Estate Plan

Management of Your Property and Finances During Incapacity

Making Healthcare Decisions During Incapacity

Appoint Guardians for Your Children

Assemble a List of Your Assets and Liabilities

Decide Who Will Receive Your Assets

Decide How and When Your Beneficiaries Will Receive Your Assets

Choosing People to Be in Charge

When to Do-it-Yourself and When to Include Lawyers

Storing Your Documents

Updating Your Estate Plan


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Reviews (1)

1 review for Estate Planning Essentials

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    Easy to read and understand.

    Sourav Das - December 29, 2021
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