The Swier Law Firm Estate Planning and Probate Law FAQs

The Swier Law Firm Estate Planning and Probate Law FAQs

 

Have questions? We have answers! Our South Dakota attorneys answer the questions they hear most often from clients just like you.

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  • What Does Payable On Death Account and Totten Trust Mean In Estate Planning?

    What Does Payable On Death Account and Totten Trust Mean In Estate Planning?

    A bank account that will automatically transfer to a named beneficiary.  This is often, but not always, designated by a “TOD” (transfer on death), “ITF” (in trust for), “ATF” (as trustee for), or “POD” (payable on death) in the title of the account.  These accounts will pass outside of a will and other estate planning documents.  Beware: If you add someone to an account to help you manage your financial affairs, that account will automatically transfer to them at your death.  This will happen whether you intended it to or not.

    Example Of Payable On Death In Regards To Estate Planning

    My dad didn’t know that by making his investment account a POD (Payable on Death) account that he was leaving the entire thing to my cousin.  He just wanted some help with investments and didn’t want my cousin to inherit all that money.

  • What Does Minor Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    What Does Minor Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    A person under the legal age of an adult.  This varies by state law, but is generally either 18 or 21.

    Example Of Minor In Regards To Estate Planning

    My sister and I both received an inheritance when my dad died, but hers in being held in trust for her since she is still a minor.

  • What Does Medicare Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    What Does Medicare Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    A federally funded health care program primarily for Americans over age sixty-five (65) who are covered by social security.

    Example Of Medicare In Regards To Estate Planning

    My mom was so happy when she finally qualified for Medicare, she had been putting off some medical procedures she really needed.

  • What Does Medicaid Payback Mean In Estate Planning?

    What Does Medicaid Payback Mean In Estate Planning?

    A federal law, administered at the state level, which requires Medicaid recipients age fifty-five (55) or older to reimburse the government for the costs of their medical care.

    Example Of Medicaid Payback In Regards To Estate Planning

    My mom used Medicaid to pay for some of her end-of-life medical care and we just received a bill from the state saying we owe them back money for Medicaid Payback.  I didn’t know this was possible.

  • What Does Medicaid Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    What Does Medicaid Mean In Regards To Estate Planning?

    A federally-funded health care program covering minor children and the poor.  Eligibility is determined through income and asset restrictions.

    Example Of Medicad In Regards To Estate Planning

    My sister is disabled and received a Medicaid payment every month.  My parents have done special estate planning for her to make sure she does not lose her benefits because she gets an inheritance. 

  • What Are Living Wills In Estate Planning?

    What Are Living Wills In Estate Planning?

    This is consider the “pull the plug document”.  Despite the word “will” being here, this document comes into effect before death when a doctor declares there is “no hope” and that the injury or illness is terminal.  This document solely addresses what life-sustaining procedures are desired when this medical determination is made.  This document will often discuss organ donation if desired.

    Example Of Living Wills In Regards To Estate Planning

    My uncle was in such a horrible car accident that the doctor said he was brain dead and there was no hope of him recovering.  My dad was named in my uncle’s living will and had to make the hard decisions about life sustaining measures and when to pull the plug.

  • What Does Life Estate Mean In Estate Planning?

    What Does Life Estate Mean In Estate Planning?

    Often used with real estate, this gives one or more people the right to live on and maintain property for the duration of their lives and provides for transfer of this property automatically to a new owner or owners one the life estate individual/s pass away.  This property would transfer outside of probate.

    Example Of Life Estate In Regards To Estate Planning

    My parents deeded me their house, but have retained a life estate interest.  They can live there or rent it out until they pass, but I am guaranteed to own it at their deaths.

  • What Are Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration In Estate Planning?

    What Does Letters of Testamentary/Letters of Administration Mean In Estate Planning?

    The official appointment of the personal representative/executor to probate the estate.  Generally, letters testamentary are issued 
    when there is a will and letters of administration are issued when there is no will.

    Example of Letters of Testamentary/Letters of Administration In Regards To Estate Planning

    When my mom died, we brought her will to the county and they issued me letters testamentary that day.  It was super easy.

     

  • What Does Tenants By The Entireties Mean In Estate Planning?

     What Does Tenants By The Entireties Mean In Estate Planning?

     A special term used by some states when a husband and wife own property together.  No other parties can own a share, this must be between husband and wife.  When one spouse dies, that share will automatically pass to the survivor.  In some cases, holding property this way can provide special protection from creditors.

    Example Of Tenants By The Entireties In Regards To Estate Planning

    My parents own their house as tenants by the entireties.  They can’t add me to the deed without changing how they own the property.

  • What Are Tenants In Common In Estate Planning?

     What Are Tenants In Common In Estate Planning?

    When one owner dies, that share will pass through the estate or in trust as the decedent directed or by state law.  It does not pass to the other owners unless decedent said so in a Will or other dispositive document.

    Example Of Tenants In Common In Regards To Estate Planning

    My siblings and I all owned an equal share of the family farm.  When my brother died, his share passed through his estate and is now held by his two children because we held the property as tenants in common.