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Estate Administration & Probate Archives

Do you have to pay off parents’ credit card debt after death?

Regardless of what a collector claims on the phone, you are not legally responsible to pay a credit card bill in most cases. A collections agent may cite “moral obligation” to exploit your desire to do the right thing, but you cannot let a debt collector play on your emotions.

Why the terms beneficiary and heir are not interchangeable

It is possible to be a beneficiary of a will, but not an heir. Yet heirs are not always beneficiaries. You do not have to leave your assets to your spouse, child or sibling (your technical ‘heirs’). You may want to set aside funds in a pet trust for your dog or make a large gift to a charitable organization.

The importance of correct beneficiary designations

Retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities are probably not controlled by provisions in your will. Why is this? These types of accounts and any other designated “payable on death” or “transfer on death” automatically pass to a named beneficiary outside of probate.

The story of a final gift to loved ones and a community

This Thanksgiving season spend a little time telling those around you how much you appreciate them – here is the guidance from Debi Barger, “Write a letter to someone and tell them how they have had a positive effect on your life.”

Planning for “known unknowns and unknown unknowns”

This saying of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld aptly describes an inherent challenge in the estate planning process. Some of the events categorized into the ‘known unknowns’ bucket might be a heart attack, early onset Alzheimer’s or serious car accident. The other bucket as the name implies is more difficult to pin down.

Consider potential for divorce when drafting a trust

Recently, media outlets published that Francis Bean Cobain - the 25-year-old daughter of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain - receives about $100,000 a month from a trust funded by her father's publicity rights. Her father died without even a simple will. Intestacy laws dictated that his estate would pass to his surviving spouse and daughter and there have since been ugly, public court battles.

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