Estate and Elder Law

Recent Posts

Ask Liza: Reporting Foreign Gifts
Posted on 19 May 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: Does a person receiving a gift from a sibling in another country have to pay gift tax on that gift in the United States? In the United States, gifts are not considered ordinary income, so you don’t have to report them or pay income tax... Read More

Ask Liza: Can I See the Will?
Posted on 9 Mar 2013 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: My adult son just passed away. I would like to know whether, when his Will is probated, I will be able to see a copy? My condolences on your loss. Your son's Will must be filed in the probate court in the county in which he died as part... Read More

Ask Liza: Your Mom May Need a Conservatorship
Posted on 5 Mar 2013 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: My mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, is completely mentally incompetent and living in a nursing home in Arkansas. I have only recently learned – surprise! – that she does not have a will. With my father and brother already... Read More

Ask Liza: Estate Planning Beats Avoidance
Posted on 7 Aug 2014 by Liza Weiman Hanks

By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: We live in Nebraska. I own a ranch with my brother. Part of it we inherited and a small part we purchased from family members. The total value of the ranch is $2.7 million. We have a buy sell agreement between us.... Read More

Ask Liza: Annual Gifts and Lifetime Gifts
Posted on 14 Jun 2013 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza, I would like to give my son $200k to upgrade homes. Can me and my wife each give $13,000 to my son, daughter in law, and two grand children? That would be $102,000, and then apply the remaining $98,000 to the unified tax credit. Can I write... Read More

Ask Liza: Is A Survivors Trust A Necessary Part Of A Trust?
Posted on 27 Feb 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: My parents have a revocable Trust that is very outdated and we want to make amendments to it. I understand most of the Trust but am having trouble with the Survivors Trust. I was surprised to see that upon the death of one spouse a Survivors... Read More

Ask Liza: What to Do When One Parent Lacks Capacity
Posted on 26 Feb 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza, my parents do not have a living trust in place. I need to help them set one up. My father and mother are 91 and 83 respectively. My father has a form of dementia that prevents him from making decision about his property. My Mother is fully... Read More

Ask Liza: Avoiding a Lump Sum Inheritance
Posted on 26 Feb 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza My father wants to leave some of his assets to my brother and sister, however neither of them is particularly adept at handling money and he doesn’t want to hand them a large, lump sum. Can a Will stipulate that they receive payments on... Read More

Ask Liza: Paying Credit Card Debt As Trustee
Posted on 22 Jul 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza, My father passed away recently, and all of his and my mom’s assets are held in a living trust (except an individual checking account), of which I am now the Trustee. A few collection agencies are now contacting me about collecting on... Read More

Ask Liza: Who Inherits When There’s No Beneficiary?
Posted on 19 May 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: My dad named his mother as his beneficiary, but she passed away in 2004. My dad died in 2013 but didn’t change his beneficiary. I am my father’s only child and he has no wife, so who gets the money ? When a person dies and there’s... Read More

Ask Liza: Are Wills Drafted In Other States Valid?
Posted on 24 May 2013 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: I would like to know if my wife and I had a will drawn up in Colorado and now reside in Arzonia do we need to have it redone? If your Will was valid in Colorado, it will be valid in Arizona. Both states require that a Will be in writing, be... Read More

Ask Liza: Naming a Minor as a Beneficiary of an IRA
Posted on 30 Sep 2014 by Liza Weiman Hanks

By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: I want to name my minor grandchildren as beneficiaries of my IRA account. How do I do that? Can I use my Will? It’s a smart idea to name minors as beneficiaries of your IRAs. Since they are young, they’ll... Read More

Ask Liza: Disinheriting a Child
Posted on 10 Nov 2014 by Liza Weiman Hanks

By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: My husband and I both have a will that states we are each other’s beneficiaries and executor’s and our son as 100% beneficiary of both of us died,. My husband has a daughter by a previous marriage. If my... Read More

Ask Liza: Can the Executor Give Away Estate Assets?
Posted on 26 Feb 2015 by Liza Weiman Hanks

Dear Liza: My husband is the sole executor (and only child) of his mother’s Will. There are no other beneficiaries listed in her Will. The only asset she had was a home which is valued at about $300,000. Does he need to probate her Will? As the... Read More

Ask Liza: Creditor’s Claims and Trust Administration
Posted on 5 Nov 2014 by Liza Weiman Hanks

By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: I am the successor trustee of my parents trust. The have both passed and I was told before I disburse the assets I need to advertise a Notice to Creditors. How long and how many times do I need to advertise? Since... Read More

  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Your Mom May Need a Conservatorship

    Dear Liza: My mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, is completely mentally incompetent and living in a nursing home in Arkansas. I have only recently learned – surprise! – that she does not have a will. With my father and brother already deceased, I am her only legal heir, but I fear...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Can I See the Will?

    Dear Liza: My adult son just passed away. I would like to know whether, when his Will is probated, I will be able to see a copy? My condolences on your loss. Your son's Will must be filed in the probate court in the county in which he died as part of the probate process. Once it is filed, it is...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Probate for U.S. Assets; Estate Tax for Non-Resident Aliens

    Dear Liza: My brother and I are dual citizens (Japan and US). We both reside in the US. Our Japanese mother recently passed away. She had some cash/ stock/ annuities/ mutual funds in the US, and some property in Japan that we will inherit jointly, with no disputes. She has a social security number and...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: What's a Testamentary Trust?

    Dear Liza: I've read that I could create a trust for my children in a Will, then name that trust as a beneficiary of my retirement account. That way, as I understand it, my successor Trustee could manage those retirement assets for my children until they grow up. But if I do that, will my estate...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Are Wills Drafted In Other States Valid?

    Dear Liza: I would like to know if my wife and I had a will drawn up in Colorado and now reside in Arzonia do we need to have it redone? If your Will was valid in Colorado, it will be valid in Arizona. Both states require that a Will be in writing, be written by someone over 18 years old, and be witnessed...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Annual Gifts and Lifetime Gifts

    Dear Liza, I would like to give my son $200k to upgrade homes. Can me and my wife each give $13,000 to my son, daughter in law, and two grand children? That would be $102,000, and then apply the remaining $98,000 to the unified tax credit. Can I write it all in one check for the four of them? You...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Should We Get Married? Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples Now

    By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: My long term domestic partner of 30 years and I were registered domestic partners for a few years and then she decided she wanted to be totally financially independent of me so we terminated the agreement last year. We are still together as a couple and live five...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Excluding Someone From Your Will

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: I am helping my friend make a Will. It’s very simple, with one heir. She wants to make sure her brother, who is her only living relative and from who she has been estranged from since they left home (she’s 75 ) is not able to challenge the Will. She wants...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Adding That New Baby

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: My wife and I are the proud parents of two young boys. As a part of our estate planning we have created a Joint Living Trust and funded it with the title to our home, our life insurance policies as well as a few other things. We are now, however, expecting a third child...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Estate Planning Beats Avoidance

    By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: We live in Nebraska. I own a ranch with my brother. Part of it we inherited and a small part we purchased from family members. The total value of the ranch is $2.7 million. We have a buy sell agreement between us. We have estate questions and aren’t sure where...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Getting Good Advice When You Are The Beneficiary

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: After dealing with an unexpected death of my spouse my head is still spinning.. My spouse was very private after a divorce and we kept our affairs separate. Now the Will, of which I was unaware, allows me to stay in our home and if I choose to leave or pass it goes...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Naming a Minor as a Beneficiary of an IRA

    By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: I want to name my minor grandchildren as beneficiaries of my IRA account. How do I do that? Can I use my Will? It’s a smart idea to name minors as beneficiaries of your IRAs. Since they are young, they’ll be able to withdraw that money slowly over their...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: The Right Plan For Now: Living Trust

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza, I’m a young professional and would greatly appreciate your feedback on what type of trust, if any, would suit me well given my current financial and life position. I’m single, 29 years old (30 later this year), with cash, stocks, and a stake in a high-growth...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Creditor’s Claims and Trust Administration

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: I am the successor trustee of my parents trust. The have both passed and I was told before I disburse the assets I need to advertise a Notice to Creditors. How long and how many times do I need to advertise? Since I don’t know which state you live in, I can...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Disinheriting a Child

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: My husband and I both have a will that states we are each other’s beneficiaries and executor’s and our son as 100% beneficiary of both of us died,. My husband has a daughter by a previous marriage. If my husband dies before me does she have rights to our...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Can the Executor Give Away Estate Assets?

    Dear Liza: My husband is the sole executor (and only child) of his mother’s Will. There are no other beneficiaries listed in her Will. The only asset she had was a home which is valued at about $300,000. Does he need to probate her Will? As the executor can he sell the home to one of our children...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: What to Do When One Parent Lacks Capacity

    Dear Liza, my parents do not have a living trust in place. I need to help them set one up. My father and mother are 91 and 83 respectively. My father has a form of dementia that prevents him from making decision about his property. My Mother is fully capable. Does my Mother have the right to make decisions...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Avoiding a Lump Sum Inheritance

    Dear Liza My father wants to leave some of his assets to my brother and sister, however neither of them is particularly adept at handling money and he doesn’t want to hand them a large, lump sum. Can a Will stipulate that they receive payments on a predetermined basis, almost like an allowance...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Do I Need a Special Needs Trust for a Son on SSDI?

    Dear Liza: I have an adult son who is developmentally disabled. He is able to work and receives Social Security Disability Insurance as well as Medicare. Does he need a Special Needs Trust? I love it when someone asks me a question with a clear answer! Here, the answer is probably not. Your son receives...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Is A Survivors Trust A Necessary Part Of A Trust?

    Dear Liza: My parents have a revocable Trust that is very outdated and we want to make amendments to it. I understand most of the Trust but am having trouble with the Survivors Trust. I was surprised to see that upon the death of one spouse a Survivors Trust may be established. Is this really a necessary...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Reporting Foreign Gifts

    Dear Liza: Does a person receiving a gift from a sibling in another country have to pay gift tax on that gift in the United States? In the United States, gifts are not considered ordinary income, so you don’t have to report them or pay income tax on the amount you’ve received. (If a US citizen...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Who Inherits When There’s No Beneficiary?

    Dear Liza: My dad named his mother as his beneficiary, but she passed away in 2004. My dad died in 2013 but didn’t change his beneficiary. I am my father’s only child and he has no wife, so who gets the money ? When a person dies and there’s no surviving beneficiary named for an account...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: When does a Will Make Sense?

    Dear Liza: A friend of mine is considering a living trust. The only property he has is a coin collection maybe worth around $15,000. He has an adult daughter who he doesn’t communicate with and does not want her to get anything. He would like to leave the collection to me. Is a living trust a good...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: Paying Credit Card Debt As Trustee

    Dear Liza, My father passed away recently, and all of his and my mom’s assets are held in a living trust (except an individual checking account), of which I am now the Trustee. A few collection agencies are now contacting me about collecting on some credit card balances, which are fairly significant...
  • Blog Post: Ask Liza: What Capacity Is Required To Change Beneficiary Designations?

    Dear Liza: Can someone with stage four Parkinson’s change the beneficiary on their life insurance? My answer is: it depends. That’s a pretty lawyerly answer, I know, but the thing is that whether or not someone has legal capacity is fact-dependent and unique to each individual, and, in...