Providing Trusted Legal Representation
Your last will and testament is an extremely important document whether you have moderate assets or substantial wealth. If you have children you wish to provide for or specific wishes regarding who will receive money and property upon your death, having your will drafted professionally is essential. The issues at hand are simply too important to rely on do-it-yourself legal kits or a lawyer primarily focused on unrelated practice areas.
There are many excellent reasons to get a dependable estate planning attorney and draft a will that reflects your current situation and intentions. You may have recently had children or invested in a home, for example. You may simply have put establishing a will off until now and recently become more conscious of that need.
What Happens if Your Die Without an Estate Plan?
If you die without a will (also known as dying “intestate”), the laws of your state will decide how your assets are divided. Without a will, the legal process that determines how your assets will be distributed [known as “probate”] will most likely be longer. An extended probate period can be time-consuming and involve expensive legal fees, decreasing the amount of your assets that are ultimately distributed to your loved ones.
In many states if you don’t have a will all of your assets will go to your spouse, if you have one. In some states your assets will be divided between your spouse, your children and/or descendants of any deceased children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your property will likely be distributed to any living family members. If you don’t have living family members, your property will go to your state of legal residence.
Perhaps most important, if you have minor children and you and your spouse die without a will, the court system would name the children’s personal-care and financial guardians.
Why Have a Developed Estate Plan?
Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.
1. You decide how your estate will be distributed
2. You decide who will take care of your minor children
3. To avoid a lengthy probate process
4. To minimize estate taxes
5. You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate
6. You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise inherit
7. Make gifts and donations
8. Avoid greater legal challengers
9. You can change your mind if your life circumstances change.
10. Because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed
What Kind of Division Order Do You Need?
Military Retired Pay
Court Order Acceptable for Processing: A court order that meets the regulatory requirements to affect an employee annuity, a refund of employee contributions, or to award a former spouse survivor annuity from a FERS or CSRS retirement plan.
Qualified Retirement Benefit Court Order: A court order which divides an employee’s Thrift Savings Plan in a manner similar to a 401(k). The Thrift Savings Plan is not a qualified plan under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA does not apply.
Military Pay Division Order: Military retirement pay is technically not a pension and benefits do not accrue. ERISA and the tax code do not apply. Retired military pay is a federal entitlement. Retired military pay can be lost or reduced because of Service Member’s misconduct. Generally, the Military Pay Division Order is issued by a state court. A Military Pay Division Order may award a Former Spouse part of the service member’s retired pay for property division, alimony, or child support.
Partition Order: The Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) replaces social security for rail industry employees and provides monthly annuities based on age and service or on disability. Benefits are administered by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The RRB does not administer the private pension plans of rail industry employers. RRA annuities are not subject to ERISA. RRA annuities are divided into tier I and tier II components. Non-tier I benefits are marital property subject to division by a Partition. These divisible benefits are: Tier II Component, Supplemental Annuity, Vested Dual Benefit, and Overall Minimum Increase.
In Order for affect an employee annuity or refund of retirement contributions, a Court Order Acceptable for Processing must:
- Specify a CSRS or FERS benefit, refer to 5 CFR Part 838 and use language which fits within the statutory language of that Part;
Expressly state the portion of the employee’s annuity or refund to which the former spouse is entitled to;
Expressly provide the OPM directions for paying the former spouse;
Provide the statutory instructions and information for the OPM to compute the amount of the former spouse’s share of the employee’s annuity or refund; and
Specifically provide for the type of annuity for application of a formula: percentage or fraction.
In Order to award a former spouse survivor annuity, a Court Order Acceptable for Processing must:
Specify a CSRS or FERS benefit, refer to 5 CFR Part 838 and use language which fits within the statutory language of that Part;
Expressly state that the former spouse is awarded a former spouse survivor annuity or direct an employee or annuitant to elect to provide a former spouse survivor annuity;
Expressly provide the OPM wth directions to compute the amount of the former spouse survivor annuity; and
Be issued prior to the date of retirement or death (whichever is earlier) of the employee or be awarded in the first order dividing the marital property of the retiree and the former spouse