GP Schoemakers Blog

GP Schoemakers Blog2019-04-10T17:20:19+00:00

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing. One wrong word, one missing signature, or one procedure not followed to the letter of the law can partially or completely invalidate a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, Advance Medical Directive, Living Will, or Durable Power of Attorney.  Though attorney fees may feel expensive, they’re actually not when viewed in light of the service and protections provided.  [...]

By |November 19th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|0 Comments

Estate Planning Considerations for Benefits Open Enrollment

The fall, generally late-October or early-November, is the time when employers send out summaries of employee benefits offered by the company and give employees the option to enroll in these benefits. These can generally include retirement plan options, health care, dental, vision, short and/or long-term disability, and life insurance coverage. Your employer may pay 100 percent of the premiums, split the costs with you, or you may have to pay all of the premiums yourself. Below are several considerations you should keep in mind once open enrollment begins. Benefits Explained When considering any retirement plan offered through your employer such [...]

By |November 7th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|0 Comments

Baltimore Register of Wills Can’t Find Her Father’s Original Last Will, Will Your Family Be Able to Find Yours?

While it’s not unusual for an original last will and testament to be misplaced, it is when your daughter happens to be the Register of Wills for Baltimore City. What is a Register of Wills? In Maryland, the Register of Wills is an elected official in each county and the City of Baltimore who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estates of deceased persons during the probate process.  As an added benefit, each Maryland Register of Wills provides safekeeping for the last will and testaments of living persons. Why is it Important to Locate an Original Last Will? [...]

By |November 5th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE|0 Comments

High Deductible Health Plan? How Your Health Savings Account (HSA) Works with Your Estate Plan

If you’re enrolled in a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you must consider how your health savings account (HSA) fits into your estate plan—especially to make sure that any hard-earned money left in your HSA when you die goes where you want it. What is an HSA? An HSA is an account whose funds may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses or saved for expenses that arise in the future. These accounts have several tax advantages. You can deduct contributions to the account up to the yearly limit. You pay no income taxes on earnings in the account [...]

By |October 22nd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments

Legal Paperwork Cheatsheet: A Guide to the Top 12 Must-Have Documents

Whether you own a little or a lot, the last thing you want to do to your loved ones is leave a bureaucratic mess after you pass away or become incapacitated. Aside from mourning your passing or a significant deterioration in your health, this will cause the family additional stress. Heirs may forfeit life insurance payouts, tax deduction advantages, or miss accounts they did not know existed. This is why it is key to have your estate plan in place before life circumstances get the best of you. In order to avoid problems, below is a list of a dozen [...]

By |October 15th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments

IRS Announcement:  Estate Tax Closing Letters Will Now Only Be Issued Upon Request

Due to the increased volume of federal estate tax return filings in order to make the “portability election,” the IRS has announced that estate tax closing letters will only be issued upon request by the taxpayer. This change in IRS policy started on June 1, 2015. What is the “Portability Election” and How is the Election Made? The “portability election” refers to the right of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse and add it to the balance of their own exemption. The portability election went into effect for [...]

By |October 12th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: |0 Comments

Do you really need a trust?

Although many people equate “estate planning” with having a will, there are many advantages to having a trust rather than a will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. While there are other estate planning tools (such as joint tenancy, transfer on death, beneficiary designations, to name a few), only a trust provides comprehensive management of your property in the event you can’t make financial decisions for yourself (commonly called legal incapacity) or after your death. One of the primary advantages of having a trust is that it provides the ability to bypass the publicity, time, and expense of probate. [...]

By |October 8th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments

Do you really need a will?

You May Not Think You Need a Will, But You Really Do.  Most Americans do not have a simple will as part of their estate plan. You might believe that a will is only for the rich and famous, and not the average person who has a far smaller net worth. On the other hand, you may think that a will is entirely unnecessary since you have a trust, jointly owned property, or have named beneficiaries on your insurance. So, do you really need a will? The short answer to this question is “yes.” In fact, everyone who owns anything [...]

By |October 1st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments

Murphy’s Law and Estate Planning

 As the old adage goes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Referred to as Murphy’s law, this well-known saying has no mercy. Sadly, estate planning is no exception to its wrath. There is hope! Below are five-estate planning mistakes and how to fix them: Incorrect guardian for your children: A will is a way for you to control what happens to your estate and your minor or disabled children from the grave. If you fail to put together a will, the state will decide who cares for them at a court hearing. If you do have a will, [...]

By |September 24th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments

Trusts – The Swiss Army Knife of Estate Planning

 To the general public, a trust may seem like an advanced tool only for the wealthiest among us. But, the reality is that trusts are a foundational estate planning tool with a solid history for being highly effective in ensuring a person’s wishes are carried out. The process begins with the maker of a trust – commonly referred to as the trust maker, grantor, settlor, or trustor – transferring his or her ownership of certain assets to the trust. A trustee is then appointed to manage these assets for the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of the trust. In a “standard” revocable [...]

By |September 17th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|0 Comments