The Parental Responsibility of Estate Planning

Test Your Estate Planning Knowledge

There are myriad online resources that can help you bolster your familiarity with estate planning. Here are a few examples from a quiz offered by Zulick Law:

Q: True or false: Mr. and Mrs. Smith would like to leave everything to each other, so they don't need a will.
A: False. The disposition of your property is only one function of a will. A will allows you to direct the disposition of your personal effects, select an executor, choose the source for payment of taxes and, in some cases, save or eliminate taxes at the death of your spouse.

Q: Mrs. Hunt is widowed and has one daughter. She does not need a will because she put her house and all her accounts in joint name with her daughter.
A: False. Mrs. Hunt still needs a will to name an executor, make directions for the payment of taxes and provide for the orderly disposition of her estate.

Q: Mr. Peabody believes that he doesn't need a will because his only asset is his pension plan, which he is leaving to his son.
A: True. Although it is true that Mr. Peabody doesn't need a will, because the beneficiary designation governs the disposition of the pension, Mr. Peabody could control other aspects of his estate with a will, such as who serves as his executor, who receives his personal effects and how and where he would like to be buried.

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Rosalind Resnick is a New York-based freelance writer, entrepreneur, investor and author of The Vest Pocket Consultant's Secrets of Small Business Success.

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This article was originally published in the February 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Parental Responsibility.

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