Welcome to Pennyborn.com. This site will help you find the information and forms you need to make an estate plan, probate an estate or settle a trust in the United States. Whether you have a modest estate and cannot afford a lawyer or have a substantial net worth and want to use tax-saving estate planning methods, Pennyborn.com offers extensive free resources to help you get your estate planning documents in order and plan your legacy. Whether you are an individual dealing with estate planning issues for the first time or a legal professional, Pennyborn.com is a great resource for learning everything you ever wanted to know about estate planning. To begin, go to wills and trusts.
Top Estate Planning Issues for 2017
Before making an estate plan or administering an estate, make sure you are familiar with the most important issues. You can start by reviewing the top 10 estate planning issues for 2017: wills and trusts, last wishes, granting power of attorney, living wills and medical decisions, life insurance, gifts and gifting, legacy planning, estate taxes, financial planning, and Medicaid planning.
Common Estate Planning Concerns
The following is a list of some of the most common issues that may arise as you plan your estate:1. Title to Property. For some people, avoiding probate is one of the primary reasons to make an estate plan. You can use certain forms of title to pass property outside of probate.2. Spouses and Partners. Many of us are curious about whether our property will go to our parents, children, and siblings or whether it will go to our spouse or partner.3. Dementia and Wills. Age related health conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's can affect your ability to make a valid will or trust. The validity of wills made at this stage in life is a common concern.4. Disinheriting an Heir. It can be very upsetting to have adult children that only want an inheritance or greedy heirs that try to cut other family members out of an inheritance.
5. Living Trusts. If you have talked to anyone about making an estate plan, chances are you have heard about living trusts. You may be wondering whether you need a living trust or only a will. A living trust has several advantages and may help avoid probate of your estate, but not everyone needs an estate planning trust.6. How to Change Your Will. Making changes to your will or living trust without following the proper execution requirements in your state is a common cause of will and trust disputes. It could also result in your will or trust being declared invalid.7. Financial Decisions. Adult children often have questions about whether they need a conservatorship for an elderly parent. Conversely, seniors want to avoid being subject to a conservatorship. By making a power of attorney, individuals concerned about planning for incapacity can appoint someone they trust to manage their finances.8. Life Insurance. Purchasing adequate life insurance is one of the most common estate planning issues. Also, most people do not have a clear understanding of how to name beneficiaries on life insurance, especially if the policy owner has an estate planning trust or estate taxes are a concern.
Last Wishes and Your Estate Plan
You may think making an estate plan is all about deciding who should inherit your property when you die. While it is important to leave instructions about your estate, you may have forgotten to tell your family or friends what to do about your funeral and burial. These are referred to as last wishes. Advance funeral planning is becoming a more important part of estate planning for several reasons. Funeral services and burial plots cost more today than ever before. Many families simply cannot afford the cost of a typical funeral. Also, attitudes about burial and cremation are changing, with more people choosing to be cremated and fewer people purchasing burial plots.For these reasons, your survivors may not know how to make your final arrangements when you die and unless you make provisions in your estate plan, they may be unable to pay for them. For tips on how to leave instructions on your last wishes, read our free funeral planning guide.
Current Estate and Gift Tax Rates
If estate taxes are a concern, you may want to start using one of the most common estate planning strategies. By gifting assets to your heirs during your lifetime, you can reduce the size of your estate, which may ultimately result in lower taxes being assessed on your estate. To find the 2016 and 2017 estate tax rates and exemption amounts, go to 2017 Estate Taxes.
If you are going to use gifting as an estate planning strategy, it is important to become familiar with annual gift tax exemption amounts, as they often change from year to year. You should also let your tax professional know you want to start gifting to your heirs and consult an estate planning attorney about whether you should create a trust as part of your gifting strategy. For the gift tax exemption amount for 2017, go to
2017 Gifting Limits. Gift tax exemption amounts for 2018 will be posted on our site in the last quarter of 2017.For the gift tax exemption amount for 2016, go to 2016 Gifting Limits.
Free Estate Planning Forms
Pennyborn.com is a great resource for finding forms to make an estate plan or administer a trust. Some of the most frequently used forms include last wishes forms, living will forms, power of attorney forms, checklists and forms for trustees, the letter of instruction form, and the estate planning worksheet. To access these forms and start your estate plan, go to free estate plan forms.
Find Free Estate Planning Forms at Pennyborn.com
Free Estate Planning Guides
If you are starting the process of making an estate plan or were appointed to manage a deceased person's estate, you probably have lots of questions about trusts, estates, probate, and funeral expenses. Pennyborn.com features many free estate planning guides including the following: Estate Planning Guide for Parents, Guide to Living Trusts, Funeral Planning Guide, Pet Owners Estate Planning Guide, Estate Planning for Small Businesses, Probate Guide, and Trust Administration Guide. To start browsing our free estate planning guides, go to Estate Plan Checklists. Our estate, trust, and probate guides are easy to understand and free for personal use.
Estate Planning Basics
If this is your first time making a will, living trust, power of attorney or health care directive, start by learning the basic elements of estate planning. Here are three key issues to consider:1. Do you know who will get your estate if you die without a will? Most people have misconceptions about what happens if your estate passes to your heirs at law rather than the beneficiaries you choose in a will. Although state law provides for how your estate will pass under the laws of intestate succession, you would probably rather be the one to decide who inherits your property. To continue reading, go to Dying Without a Will.2. Regardless of whether you take the time to make an estate plan, someone will be left with the burden of making your final arrangements and paying for your final expenses. One of the best gifts you can leave your survivors is a document that costs nothing to create. By filling out a Memorial Preferences form, you can leave instructions for your funeral, burial, and other last wishes. In addition to making a valid will, funeral planning has become an essential element of putting your affairs in order as the financial consequences to heirs become more significant.3. When you think about estate planning, you may not realize it also involves your health care. However, planning for incapacity, a terminal illness, and similar types of issues is also an important part of making an estate plan. Whether you are young or old, at some point in your life, you may need someone else to make health care decisions on your behalf. There are documents you can execute leaving instructions about the type of care you want to receive and the person you want to have authority to make these decisions. For a brief overview, see
Estate Planning Software
Although many people want to make an estate plan, the cost of having a will, power of attorney, and health care directives prepared by an attorney is often seen as an obstacle to putting your affairs in order. Fortunately, you can purchase estate planning software that allows you to create your own estate planning documents at your home or office.Using an attorney is the best way to ensure your estate plan is prepared properly. Nevertheless, estate planning software is an alternative if you are on a tight budget. If you are going to try the do it yourself approach to estate planning, one way to avoid costly mistakes is to read a primer on how to make a will or living trust. To see top-rated estate planning guides on a variety of topics, go to
books and software.
Probate and Trust Administration
If you are serving as executor of an estate or trustee of a trust for the first time, you may have a million questions about where to start and how to avoid mistakes. Our site provides an overview of each step in the process of settling an estate, whether the estate is subject to probate or will pass to beneficiaries through a trust or non-probate transfers.To get started, review our executor checklist and trustee checklist. By using the resources on our website, you can save time and money when settling an estate or administering a trust.
For Heirs and Beneficiaries
If you need information about wills, trusts, and probate because you are an heir or beneficiary of the deceased, you are on the right site. Pennyborn.com features tips and forms for surviving spouses, children, partners, and next of kin. You may have questions about inheritance, inherited IRA's, contesting a will, responsibility for debts of the deceased, and Medicaid estate recovery. To find answers now, go to heirs and beneficiaries.
Pennyborn.com is a free online reference guide to estate planning, trusts, funeral planning, will and trust disputes, probate, estate administration, and
trust administration. Our site features free estate planning forms, reviews of estate planning forms you can buy online, and estate planning forms books.Pennyborn.com also features articles on trends in estate planning and tips on how to find resources that make the process of estate planning and estate administration easier for consumers. In 2017, Pennyborn.com celebrated its 8th year as an online publisher of estate planning materials. Contact Us.