Rotary members introduced to estate planning basics

Erin Smith -

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Elizabethtown Rotary Club was treated on Wednesday to a brief introduction to estate planning by Will Johnson of Johnson Law Firm.

Johnson was introduced to those in attendance by Rotarian Mike Davis.

Johnson explained to the group about estate planning and some things to consider when preparing their “last will and testament.”

Johnson told those in attendance that upon a person’s death they can have a will, a trust in place, or they can choose to “do nothing.” He also discussed the types of wills that one can create. He told the group there are three types of wills one can choose from.

The first type is a written-self approved will which includes an affidavit and the signatures of two witnesses; a nuncupative or oral will which applies only to personal property; and a holographic will which is written in ink entirely by hand by the person and is stored in a safe location.

He touched on the most common way an estate is passed on.

“A common way (to pass an estate) is for the husband to give (the estate) to his wife or a wife to give it to her husband,” said Johnson.

He said that an estate can be passed on to heirs through a trust in the event something should happen to both spouses at the same time.

Johnson briefly described for the group the types of trusts one can set up and how they work. He explained that one must have a lot of trust in the person who is selected to serve as the trustee and administer the trust.

Johnson told the group the most common form of trust used is a called a POT Trust. This form of a trust allows for an estate to be distributed equally among children. Johnson added this type of a trust also allows for the trustee to have an expanded role such as the ability to purchase an automobile for an heir if necessary.

“You have to have a lot of trust in the trustee,” said Johnson.

Johnson also touched briefly on the tax implications of estates as well.

He also told the group that an executor of an estate must be bonded and this was put into place to protect the heirs. Johnson also noted that the bond can be waived.

Johnson also discussed what happens when one dies without a will and how the estate is potentially divided.

Johnson told the group a will can be as specific as one wants or it can be as flexible as one wants.

Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.

Erin Smith

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