LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Ask Liza: Should We Create a Living Trust?

Dear Liza: We are a married couple in our early and mid 30s with a one year old son living in Southern California. I have been looking at setting up a trust and/or will for our little family but not sure what is needed in our scenario. My husband and I each own a home in our name (bought before we got...