If you're entering your senior years, you've probably put some thought into whom you'd like to inherit your personal items and assets. For better or worse, some of your potential heirs may have also put some thought into the same thing.
A huge part of estate planning is making sure that you pass on your family's wealth through the generations. That allows it to build and helps your descendants prosper. However, many black Americans don't feel like they have the type of wealth that needs a will to pass on -- or they simply don't think about the need for a will and other end-of-life documents.
When the music icon Aretha Franklin died, her heirs thought she had done so intestate -- or without a will to guide the disposition of her estate. Given the size and value of her assets, that created a difficult situation but the four sons she left behind agreed to put things in the care of a capable administrator.
When someone sets up a trust for his or her beneficiaries, they expect the trustee to look after those beneficiaries' interests. Usually, things go pretty much as planned.
For parents, there's nothing more important in an estate plan than choosing a guardian for their minor children.
You already know that getting your will together is really important in order to protect your family's future -- but it's also important not to rush yourself through the process once you've begun. If you rush, you're far too apt to make some serious mistakes.
Part of being a grown-up is attending to a lot of unpleasant -- but necessary -- tasks. That includes getting your estate plans ready and making a will, designating your executor and heirs, establishing powers of attorney for medical care and finances and maybe even thinking about setting up a trust.
What prompts one family member to dispute another's last will and testament?
Two terms that are important to estate planning are "per stirpes" and "per capita." Both refer to the way that assets can be divided among a deceased person's heirs.
Have you really thought about the people you have chosen to act on your behalf in your estate plans?