trust documents

A Trust Can Protect Your Child’s Inheritance After a Divorce

People tend to create estate plans that are extremely inclusive of their spouses. They tend to figure that if something happens to them, their spouse will use the assets that they leave them to care for the kids. However, when a couple divorces, many people don’t want their ex-spouse to be the beneficiary of any of their assets. Even though they love their children, sometimes this causes the children to be overlooked. 

Leaving Assets in a Trust

When a couple divorces, it’s extremely important that both parents establish new estate plans that allow for their property to pass to their kids. Unfortunately, it can be an issue to leave direct inheritances to minor children – or even young adults. This is because they generally don’t know how to manage the resources left to them. For this reason, many parents will instead choose to protect their children’s inheritance by leaving the resources in trust with their other parent or legal guardian for them to inherit once they turn 18 (or whichever age you believe would be appropriate).

It’s so important that the resources are left in a trust rather than just given to the other parent or guardian because this person may squander these assets – especially if they had a negative or contentious relationship with the deceased parent. By leaving the inheritance in a trust, it protects against the misuse of the kids’ inheritance. 

Choosing a Testator

More importantly, with a trust, the testator (creator of the Will) can name anyone they trust to serve as the trustee of the trust. They would be responsible for seeing to it that the children receive what they should. A trustworthy trustee can make sure that the kids’ inheritance is used to support them while they are minors but still maintain resources that they can take control of as adults. You can even explicitly include that you do not want your ex-spouse and the children’s other parent to ever have control over the trust as trustee.

Designating How and When Assets Are Distributed

Additionally, with a trust, you can specifically designate how you wish for your children to receive their inheritance. For instance, you can include that you want them to receive a certain amount of money upon graduating from college or a certain amount of money for purchasing their first home. You’ll just want to be sure to fully fund the trust in order for your intended beneficiaries to avoid the time and expense of probate court. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Plans

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

couple with estate planning attorney

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples in Rhode Island

Estate planning can often prove complicated, but when it comes to unmarried partners, it can be extremely confusing. Luckily, with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney who has experience working with unmarried couples, you can be sure to protect yourself and your partner. 

Same-Sex Couples 

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to marry in every state. Before this, estate planning for same-sex couples was often more complex. But now that all states recognize same-sex marriage, these couples are entitled to receive the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. However, the struggle to protect unmarried couples remains – regardless of sexual orientation. 

The Importance of Estate Planning for Your Loved Ones

It can undoubtedly be difficult to think about getting older and eventually passing away. For this reason, many people avoid estate planning altogether. However, estate planning is a very important part of planning for the future and for your loved ones. Unfortunately, when unmarried couples pass away without an estate plan, their partners often receive little to no assets of theirs. 

Without a Will, Trust, or applicable estate planning document, individuals in domestic partnerships not only run the risk of receiving none of their estate but of also being denied access to their partner’s medical records or the ability to make medical decisions on their behalf. 

Passing Away without an Estate Plan (Intestate)

When someone passes away without a will (intestate), their property will go to specific kin in a particular order. But those who are not married will not have their property automatically pass to their partner. What’s more, partners often have much more difficulty with proving that they have the “standing” to argue the case in probate court. 

Put simply, regardless of whether you’re in a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship, if you’re not married it’s all the more important to establish at least a basic estate plan to ensure that your partner receives the assets you’d like for them to have. Additionally, you’ll want to appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated or unable to do so. Having your wishes in writing is an important piece in ensuring that they are carried out properly.

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Plans

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

older couple reviewing estate plan

What Are Your Children Entitled to if You Die Intestate?

Wills are important because they help to ensure that your property goes to the individuals you desire. They allow a parent to leave the property they want in the amounts that they want to their kids. But what happens if a parent dies without a will? Here’s what your children are entitled to if you die without a will (intestate).

In Rhode Island, if you pass away intestate your children will receive what’s referred to as an “intestate share” of your property. Their share size is dependent upon the number of children they have and whether they are married at the time of your passing. 

Who is Considered a “Child” for Purposes of Intestate Inheritance?

There are many types of children. You may be wondering who constitutes a child for the purposes of dying intestate. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Adopted children inherit just as biological children would
  • Foster children and stepchildren who aren’t legally adopted will not automatically receive a share. (Stepchildren may have a right of inheritance if you die without other family members.)
  • Children placed for adoption who were legally adopted by another family are still entitled to their intestate share of your estate.
  • Posthumous children (those conceived before your death but born after) are still entitled to an intestate share of your estate.
  • Children born out of wedlock are entitled to receive a share of your estate if you:
    • Married after birth
    • Acknowledged paternity
    • If paternity was otherwise established under state law
  • Grandchildren are only entitled to a share of your estate if their parent is not alive to receive their share. 

If You Lack Family

In the event that you pass away and don’t have a will or any family, your property will go to the state. Luckily, this is rare, as the laws favor giving your property to anyone related to you: spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts/uncles, great aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins, or even the children, parents, or siblings of your spouse if they have passed away before you. 

Additional Laws

There are also a few other laws regarding who can inherit from you. These laws are intended to protect you and also make sense. Such laws include the following:

  • Survivorship period – For a person to inherit from you, they must outlive you by at least 5 days. 
  • Citizenship – It doesn’t matter if your relatives are U.S. citizens – or even if they’re in the country legally – so long as they are entitled to a share of your property. 
  • Slayer Rule – If someone “willfully and lawfully” kills you or procures your death they are not entitled to receive a share of your estate. 
  • Advancements – If you gifted a relative property of yours during your lifetime, the value of the property will not be deducted from their share – unless you wrote it down at the time that you made the advancement or unless the relative admits to this in writing. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island Who Need a Will

The most important thing about having a Will is that it allows you to have a say in who your property goes to after you’re gone. Having a comprehensive estate plan can help to prevent any confusion or disagreements amongst your loved ones, therefore saving them time, money, and aggravation. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island property lawyers can help to ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan that affords your wishes and desires and protects your loved ones. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

woman with pet on computer

Estate Planning for Your Pets in Rhode Island

Our pets are often considered members of our family, similar to our children. They provide unconditional love and we love them back. That’s why we take steps to take good care of them. But what happens if they outlive us? While it may be difficult to imagine, it’s important to know that our pets will be well taken care of even after we’re gone. Luckily, there are many ways that you can do just that through your estate plan

Pet Trusts

One way that you can ensure the care of your pet is through a pet trust. In Rhode Island, you can set up a trust for the care of your animals even after you’re gone. These trusts can include funds for the care of the animal. However, Rhode Island still views pets as property, leaving them unable to inherit any property. Therefore, while you can’t leave property in the trust for your pet, you can leave property in the trust to be sold, with the money used for their care. 

The trust can also include how you wish your pet to be cared for: what you want them to eat, what their daily routine looks like, and what their veterinary care will consist of. You may also include contingencies for what should happen if the designated caregiver dies or is unwilling or unable to take the animal. You can include funds within the trust for finding the pet a new home. 

Caretaker Designations 

When you are gone, the biggest concern for your pets is who will love and care for them. Through your will or trust, you can designate someone whom you wish to do so. It’s important that you give this a lot of thought and choose someone trustworthy, responsible, and loving. It should be someone who you know will honor your requests, caring for them in the manner you desire. The best thing is to speak with the person with whom you are interested in leaving your pet. That way, you can ensure you are on the same page and can choose someone else if need be.  

Rhode Island allows for the trust to apply to an animal alive during the trustor’s lifetime and to extend until the death of the animal. Additionally, the pet trust must not be for anyone other than the pet itself. If the trust is found to be unreasonable, it can be challenged and found invalid. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Planning Needs

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients achieve their goals and desires. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

older couple estate planning

Are Estate Plans Only for Older and Wealthy Individuals?

When we think of an estate plan, it often brings to mind much older individuals with a lot of money. But are these the only individuals who should be creating an estate plan? Not at all. Sure, the elderly and the rich should have an estate plan, but so too should all adults. If you are 18 years or older, here’s what you should know about the importance of having an estate plan. 

Estate Plans Don’t Only Plan for Your Death 

Of course, an estate plan can help to determine what will happen to your assets when you die, but it should also address things such as incapacity. Your estate plan documents should discuss what will happen should you require help or become incapacitated. That’s where an advance health care directive and durable power of attorney can make a huge impact. 

What Should You Know About an Advance Health Care Directive?

In the event that you become incapacitated, it’s important that you have someone whom you can trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. An Advance Health Care Directive permits you to choose an “agent” who will be in charge of speaking with your treating physicians and other medical professionals and making medical decisions for you. However, you don’t have to leave everything up to your agent. You can choose which medical decisions you want to be made for you within your directive. If you make these choices then the agent can use them to help guide what they do. 

What Should You Know About a Durable Power of Attorney?

Similar to an Advance Health Care Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney enables you to choose an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. But whereas an Advance Health Care Directive is activated when a specific event occurs, such as your incapacitation, a Durable Power of Attorney is activated as soon as it’s signed. For instance, if you are on vacation in Mexico but end up hospitalized, your Durable Power of Attorney can pay your bills on your behalf.

Estate plans can prove beneficial for people as young as 18 and those who don’t have a lot of money. The associated documents empower people to choose what they want to happen in a variety of situations. These documents ensure that the individual’s wishes are respected and set up protections for them by allowing someone else to assist them in carrying out their needs should they ever require such help. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Plans

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

digital assets

Don’t Forget to Include Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

As our society continues to advance, just about everything has received a digital makeover. From grocery shopping to paying our bills, our daily tasks commonly transpire online. When we think about estate planning, we commonly forget about our digital life and assets. If you forget about your digital assets, you could be missing out on a huge part of your overall assets. That’s why you should remember to take all of your files, accounts, transactions, and other digital assets into consideration when creating your estate plan. 

What Constitutes a Digital Asset?

While “digital asset” sounds a bit vague, it’s really any online account or service that requires a login or security system to access. Your digital assets could therefore include things such as:

  • Smartphone applications
  • Social media accounts
  • Cloud accounts/files
  • Financial accounts
  • Web domains

Keeping Your Digital Assets Organized

If you’ve ever tried to access an account and forgotten the password, then you probably understand just how many digital assets you have to remember. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to make a comprehensive list of all of your digital assets as well as your digital liabilities (e.g., automatic online payments).

Your list should include the name of the asset (or liability) and the URL (website) that is associated with it. For each asset (or liability) you should also include the full name that is associated with the account, your account numbers, usernames, passwords, security questions, and anything else that could be required to access the asset. The last thing you want to happen is for your loved ones to struggle or be unable to access your accounts after you’re gone.  

Once you have your list of digital assets, it’s important to select who you want to receive each one and what you want to happen to the asset. You can include this information in your will or trust. 

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

For a long time, executors of estates who lacked the information for relevant digital financial assets were unable to access them. Luckily, most states, including Rhode Island, have adopted a form of a federal law, The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.  The Act allows executors of an estate to gain access to the digital financial assets barring a will that says otherwise. The Act does not give executors the right to gain access to things such as social media accounts, text messages, and emails unless the decedent had expressly permitted the executor to do so. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Plans

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!