3. Are There Heirs or Beneficiaries With Special Needs?
Occasionally an heir or a beneficiary is struggling with substance abuse, mental health issues, physical health, a difficult divorce or custody battle, or a gambling problem, or simply an inability to prudently and competently handle financial issues. In such a case it makes sense to create a special trust arrangement to effectively address the special needs of such an individual.
4. Who Should be the Executor or Trustee for an Estate?
Choosing an executor or trustee is very important: People with prudent judgement, sometimes even more than one person, can be chosen, such as a trusted family member, friend, or professional advisor. It is also of key importance to pick alternate executors or trustees in case a particular individual is unable or unwilling to serve in that role.
5. When Should You Have a “Living Will” and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney?
It is important to plan for a time when there may be a temporary or permanent inability to make important healthcare or financial decisions. For this purpose, an Israeli or US or other “living will” can be executed for people authorized to make important healthcare decisions when you cannot do so. A durable financial power of attorney document can be executed for important financial decisions. Obviously in both cases, the individuals chosen have a level of fiduciary responsibility to make good decisions – and not self-serving decisions – on your behalf. These documents need to be drafted thoughtfully and carefully.
6. How Can You Keep Current With Changes in the Laws?
It is important to understand that inheritance and tax laws can change. For this reason, it is not only important that your legal counsel keep abreast of the issues, but also that there be mechanisms within trust documents, such as the office of the Trust Protector to ensure that legal changes can be effectively incorporated into key decision-making under trust and will structures.
7. Is Probate Necessary?
That depends where you are, in the US or Israel. In the US, probate has been largely replaced by trusts, although in the absence of a trust probate in a US probate court of a particular state may be necessary, especially for real estate assets. In Israel, there is no way around the Israeli Probate Court. In Europe, many countries will give authority to Israeli probate decisions, depending on how a will is written.
8. A “Halachic Will” For Jewishly Observant People?
According to most Halachic authorities, it is desirable to have a so-called halachic will in place. Effectively, this will serves a dual purpose of addressing the need for a halachic will (desirable in itself) and of ensuring that no games can be played via Rabbinical Court (Beit Din) involving the will and trust structure.