Gratia P. Schoemakers, Esq.

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So far Gratia P. Schoemakers, Esq. has created 200 blog entries.

Four Reasons Why Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Top 1 Percent

By | 2019-04-23T13:50:17+00:00 April 23rd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

There is a common misconception that estate plans are only for the ultra-rich - the top 1 percent, 10%, 20%, or some other arbitrary determination of “enough” money.  In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. People at all income and wealth levels can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan. Sadly, many have not sat down to put their legal house in order. According to a 2016 Gallup News Poll more than half of all Americans do not have a will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. These same results were identified by WealthCounsel in its Estate Planning Awareness [...]

DO IT NOW: NAME A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR MINOR CHILD(REN)

By | 2019-03-07T09:23:39+00:00 April 5th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , |

We know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising your children can stop you in your tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you – your children’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met. No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but more than likely, there is someone you know that could do a decent job providing for your children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs if you are [...]

WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEDIATION

By | 2019-04-23T13:41:22+00:00 April 2nd, 2019|Categories: DIVORCE|

What Is Mediation? The goal of mediation is to use the assistance of a neutral third party to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both the parties. It helps both parties walk away with a satisfactory outcome, without the financial and emotional cost of a court case. The mediation process consists of a mutual endeavor. Unlike in negotiations (where parties are often entrenched in their positions), parties to a mediation usually seek out mediation because they are ready to work toward a resolution to their dispute. The mere fact that parties are willing to mediate in most circumstances means [...]

PARENTAL WARNING: IF YOU OWN YOUR PROPERTY THIS WAY, YOU MAY ACCIDENTALLY DISINHERIT YOUR OWN CHILDREN

By | 2019-03-08T08:20:22+00:00 March 8th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous.  Sadly, children – both minor and adult – are often disinherited. While there are several forms of joint ownership, the one most people use (and the one considered in this discussion) is called “Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship.” When one owner dies, the jointly owned asset automatically, by operation of law, transfers to the surviving owner. Joint ownership is a very common way for married people to own their assets. Joint ownership is also commonly used by aging parents and their adult children. Joint [...]

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND ESTATE PLANNING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

By | 2019-03-07T08:09:26+00:00 March 7th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

Cryptocurrencies have been making headlines as of late, with more and more investors wanting in on this digital currency. Cryptocurrencies are attractive because they are unregulated, decentralized, and anonymous. While secrecy is useful in some areas of life, when it comes to estate planning it can lead to disaster. Indeed, your entire cryptocurrency investment can essentially disappear into thin air the moment you pass away or become incapacitated. If you have not taken the proper steps to plan and protect these assets, your loved ones left behind have no way of accessing or recovering them. Cryptocurrencies Explained Cryptocurrency is a form [...]

5 TRAGIC MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN LEAVING ASSETS TO THEIR PETS

By | 2019-03-06T19:16:50+00:00 March 6th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: |

5 Tragic Mistakes People Make When Leaving Assets to Their Pets A pet trust is an excellent way to make sure your beloved pet will receive proper care after you pass on. The problem, of course, is that you won’t actually be there to see that your wishes are carried out. It’s critical to set up a pet trust correctly to ensure there are no loopholes or unforeseen situations that could make your plans go awry. Here are 5 tragic mistakes people often make when leaving their assets to their pets. 1. Appropriating more than the pet could ever need. [...]

What Estate Planning Awareness Means For You

By | 2019-04-23T15:38:23+00:00 October 15th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

The third week of October is National Estate Planning Awareness Week (Oct. 15-21, 2018). Estate planning is important for everyone regardless of wealth or family status because if you become incapacity or pass away without an estate plan, you are leaving the distribution of your assets subject to state law – and the results may not be what you want or expect. Estate Planning Explained Estate planning includes the growth, protection, and transfer of a person’s wealth through the creation and maintenance of an estate plan. The concept of estate planning is important and twofold: (1) to have a strategy [...]

RETIREMENT PLANNING FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

By | 2019-03-06T18:18:12+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

For many employees, saving for retirement is usually a matter of simply participating in their employer’s 401(k) plan and perhaps opening an IRA for some extra savings.   But, when you’re the owner of a business, planning for retirement requires proactivity and strategy. It’s not just the dizzying array of choices for retirement accounts, there’s also planning for the business itself. Who will run the business after your retirement? Additionally, your estate plan must integrate into your retirement and business transition strategy.   Owners of businesses (like employees and everyone else) want to make sure they will have enough money [...]

REWARDING YOUR EMPLOYEES BY GIVING THEM THE BUSINESS

By | 2019-03-06T18:16:48+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING|

Retiring from your business can a tough decision.  To ensure that what you have built continues on, there needs to be a plan for succession.  For some people, they have spent years grooming a child or other family member to take over, wanting the business to stay in the family.  Others look to sell to a third party for a quick way out that will also give them a nest egg for their next phase of life.  However, there is a third option–transferring the business to your employees.  If you like the idea of transferring your business to long-time faithful [...]

A TRUST FOR FLUFFY OR FIDO? WHY EVERY PET PARENT NEEDS TO CONSIDER A PET TRUST TODAY

By | 2019-03-06T17:59:47+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Estate planning is about protecting what’s important to you. Although much of the traditional estate planning conversation focus on surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, many pet parents wonder about what could happen to their “furry children” after their death or if they become incapacitated and unable to care for the pets. Read on if you’ve ever thought, “What will happen to my cat, dog, or other pet if I pass away?” “What if I’m incapacitated and unable to care for them?” Enter the pet trust. This tool is something that can be easily incorporated into a new or existing estate plan [...]

ARE YOUR DOCUMENTS FOLLOWING THE SAME SCRIPT? BASICS OF BENEFICIARY FORMS AND ESTATE PLANNING

By | 2019-03-06T17:58:31+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

In the event of your untimely death, the manner in which your beneficiaries — or those people who receive your assets from your estate — are determined is highly dependent on how your property is titled.   Generally, property with title includes vehicles, boats, airplanes, real estate, bank accounts, savings bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and stock certificates. If you die without a will or a trust and haven’t used any beneficiary or transfer on death options, state law will determine who inherits property with a title. On the other hand, property without a title, such as jewelry, antiques, [...]

WHO SHOULD BE YOUR SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE?

By | 2019-03-06T17:57:26+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

If you have a revocable living trust, you probably named yourself as trustee so you can continue to manage your own financial affairs, but eventually, someone will need to step in for you when you are no longer able to act due to incapacity or after your death. Your successor trustee plays an important role in the effective execution of your estate plan.   The Key Takeaways:   Because successor trustees have a lot of responsibility, they should be chosen carefully. Successor trustees can be your adult children, other relatives, a trusted friend, or a corporate or professional trustee.   [...]

DO IT NOW: NAME A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR MINOR CHILD(REN)

By | 2019-03-06T17:42:01+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: GUARDIANSHIP|

We know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising your children can stop you in your tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you – your children’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met.   No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but more than likely, there is someone you know that could do a decent job providing for your children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs if you [...]

HOW TO CHOOSE A TRUSTEE

By | 2019-03-06T17:40:38+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee does what you do right now with your financial affairs – collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records, and generally keep things organized and in good order.   The Key Takeaways   You can be trustee of your revocable living trust. If you are married, your spouse can be co-trustee. Most irrevocable trusts do not allow you to be trustee. Even though you may be allowed to be your [...]

HOW TO CHOOSE A GUARDIAN FOR YOURSELF

By | 2019-03-06T17:39:40+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: GUARDIANSHIP|

Every day we make hundreds of decisions from what to eat for breakfast to where we go on vacation.  With each passing day, there are more choices to be made.  But, what will happen if you can’t make decisions for yourself?  Before that time comes, there is one important decision you need to make. Who do you want to serve as your guardian?   For those of you who have had your estate planning recently done or reviewed, you probably discussed and executed a Financial Power of Attorney. For those of you on the fence about having your estate planning completed, this [...]

SHOULD YOUR CHILD’S GUARDIAN AND TRUSTEE BE THE SAME PERSON?

By | 2019-03-06T17:38:20+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP|

If you have overheard any discussion about estate planning, you have likely heard the words “guardian” or “trustee” tossed around in the conversation. When it comes to estate planning, who will be ultimately in charge of your minor child is an important decision that requires consideration of many factors. Although there is no substitute for you as a parent, a guardian is essentially someone who steps in as a parent, assuming the parental role and raising the child through adulthood. A trustee, on the other hand, is in charge of managing the financial legacy that has been left behind for [...]

HOW TO PICK A TRUSTEE, EXECUTOR, AND AGENT UNDER A POWER OF ATTORNEY

By | 2019-03-06T17:17:41+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

While the term fiduciary is a legal term with a rich history, it very generally means someone who is legally obligated to act in another person’s best interests. Trustees, executors, and agents are all examples of fiduciaries. When you pick trustees, executors, and agents in your estate plan, you’re picking one or more people to make decisions in your and your beneficiaries’ best interests and in accordance with the instructions you leave. Luckily, understanding the basics of what each of these terms means and what to consider when making your choices can make your estate plan work far better.   [...]

FIVE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN SELECTING A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR CHILDREN

By | 2019-03-06T16:40:37+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP|

There is no question that having children changes everything — and estate planning is no exception. If you and your spouse pass away or become legally incapacitated, and arrangements were never made in the event of such an emergency, your minor child or children will have to be placed with a new family. Not surprisingly, such a drastic change can be a disruptive process for minor children — even if they are placed with members of your family. If you choose a guardian for your child in your will or other estate plan documents this difficult time can go much [...]

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND ESTATE PLANNING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

By | 2019-03-06T16:42:33+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Cryptocurrencies have been making headlines as of late, with more and more investors wanting in on this digital currency. Cryptocurrencies are attractive because they are unregulated, decentralized, and anonymous. While secrecy is useful in some areas of life, when it comes to estate planning it can lead to disaster. Indeed, your entire cryptocurrency investment can essentially disappear into thin air the moment you pass away or become incapacitated. If you have not taken the proper steps to plan and protect these assets, your loved ones left behind have no way of accessing or recovering them.   Cryptocurrencies Explained   Cryptocurrency [...]

PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE WHEN YOU ARE DIVORCED

By | 2019-03-06T16:29:07+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Categories: DIVORCE, ESTATE PLANNING|

Consider this story. Beth’s divorce from her husband was recently finalized. Her most valuable assets are her retirement plan at work and her life insurance policy. She updated the beneficiary designations on both to be her two minor children. She did not want her ex-husband to receive the money.   Beth passes away one year after her divorce. Her children are still minors, so the retirement plan and insurance company require an adult to be appointed to receive the inheritance Beth left behind. Who does the court presumptively look to serve as the caretaker of this money? Beth’s ex-husband who [...]