WHO GETS IT WHEN YOU GO? by David C. Larsen


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Starting with the no-nonsense title, there's a lot to recommend this succinct lay-person's guide to estate planning. Larsen's aim is ""to explain in uncomplicated language what can happen to your property when you die"" and what you can do about it; and he covers the ground remarkably well. His opening chapter emphasizes the often unfortunate consequences of intestacy (dying without a will) and clearly explains what property comprises your ""estate"" for probate purposes. The chapter on wills stresses their advantages (the opportunity to leave different amounts to different beneficiaries, to select guardians for minors, to name your executor), even for people who have few if any assets, since it's always possible that you'll live poor and die wealthy--if you're hit by a freight train, for example, and your estate gets big bucks in a wrongful-death lawsuit. Though he offers a simple, sample will for illustrative purposes, Larsen strongly advises consulting a professional adviser for all estate planning activity. So you'll know what's up, however, he takes you step-by-step through the probate process, and shows how to avoid it by careful use of living trusts (no news, to be sure, but well explained here). What's a sprinkle trust? Or a bypass trust? When, if ever, should you make your life insurance proceeds payable to a trust? Larsen gives you the answers. There's also a solid, upto-date discussion of federal estate taxes and how to minimize them by using trusts, by getting the maximum benefit from the marital deduction, by giving your property away, and by avoiding (yes) jointly-held property. Good, reliable background reading for your first conference with a probate lawyer or trust officer, and handy for lawyers who practice in other areas but don't want to sound dumb about estates.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Random House