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

By |2019-06-05T10:04:28+00:00March 8th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, HOME/PROPERTY OWNERSHIP|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 [...]

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

By |2019-06-05T11:03:47+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP|Tags: , , |

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 LEAVE YOUR LIFE INSURANCE AND RETIREMENT PLAN TO YOUR MINOR CHILDREN

By |2019-06-05T21:51:22+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|Tags: , , , , , |

Your children are your pride and joy. It is no surprise that at some point or another, every parent likely becomes concerned about who will care for a minor child or children if one or both parents die or are incapacitated. From a financial perspective, many parents turn to life insurance in an effort to take care of their family in the event of death. While it is true that life insurance is a particularly helpful financial tool to protect your loved ones, it is just as important to consider how to leave the proceeds to your minor children. Beyond [...]

3 THINGS YOU MUST DO ONCE YOUR DIVORCE IS FINAL

By |2019-06-05T22:24:59+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: DIVORCE, ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

The divorce process can be long and expensive.  However, the work does not end once the divorce decree is signed. In order to ensure that your assets and estate planning wishes are carried out in light of this major life change, there are three things you must do as soon as possible. Change Beneficiary Designation On Life Insurance A life insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company.  You designate the beneficiary (the individual(s) or entity who will receive the proceeds upon your death) and the insurance company will pay them when you die. Because the beneficiary [...]

ONE CALL YOU MUST MAKE AFTER YOU BUY A HOME (THAT YOU’VE PROBABLY FORGOTTEN)

By |2019-06-06T13:17:28+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, HOME/PROPERTY OWNERSHIP|Tags: , , , |

During the home buying process, you worked with a lot of individuals: your realtor, the seller’s realtor, the title company, the loan officer, and the home inspector.  Now that you have finalized the purchase of your house, there is one more expert you need to call: your estate planning attorney. Aligning Your Ownership with Existing Estate Planning First, your attorney can help you review the new documents associated with your home purchase in conjunction with your existing estate plan to ensure that everything aligns and works towards your overall estate planning objectives. If your existing estate plans include a trust [...]

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE WITHOUT A CRYSTAL BALL

By |2019-03-06T18:11:27+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

Planning for the Future (Without a Crystal Ball) Creating a will, trust, or any type of estate plan has always involved dealing with an uncertain future. Consider that just 20 years ago in 1997, the estate tax had an astonishing 55% rate with only a $600,000 exemption. Back then, tax-driven estate planning was a mathematical necessity for a large segment of the population. Fast forward to 2017. Not only do we now have a generous $5.49 million exemption and a lower 40% rate, we also have renewed emphasis and action from the President and Congress on repealing the estate tax, as evidenced [...]

5 TRAGIC MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN LEAVING ASSETS TO THEIR PETS

By |2019-03-07T07:44:50+00:00July 8th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , |

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. Appropriating more than the pet could ever need. The gossip stories about such-and-such celebrity who left his or her entire fortune [...]

DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE FROM COURT INTERFERENCE!

By |2019-03-07T08:27:17+00:00July 4th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , |

While the rest of the nation celebrates its independence on July 4th, you can rest assured that you too can declare independence for your family — from court interference. Life can be unpredictable. Whether it is a financial issue, the birth or adoption of a child, sickness or incapacity, it is important to be prepared with proper estate planning. In fact, failure to put together a comprehensive estate plan can leave you and your loved ones at the mercy of the court when it comes to distributing assets or caring for a minor or sick family member. Estate Planning Basics Simply [...]

DO YOU OWN RENTAL PROPERTY? HOW PROACTIVE, COMPREHENSIVE ESTATE PLANNING CAN HELP

By |2019-03-07T08:26:08+00:00June 25th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , |

A comprehensive estate plan should address all of your assets. For most people, an estate plan must include three common categories: (1) your home; (2) financial accounts, like your checking and savings account; and (3) personal property. Other types of assets – such as life insurance, retirement funds, and annuities – should also be considered as part of your estate plan. If you own rental property, however, your estate plan will be more complicated because there are some unique considerations. Rental Property & Estate Plans It is no surprise that one of the risks of being a landlord of commercial or [...]

ESTATE PLANNING: WHY ME, WHY NOW, AND IS A WILL ENOUGH?

By |2019-03-07T08:32:45+00:00May 28th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , |

You have worked hard for years, have family members and friends you care about, and have approached a time in your life when “estate planning” sounds like something you should do, but you are not exactly sure why. You may feel that you are not wealthy enough or not old enough to bother or care. Or you may already have a Will and feel that you are all set on that front. Whatever your current position, consider these common misconceptions about estate planning: Estate planning is for wealthy(ier) people. False. Anyone who has survived to age eighteen and beyond has likely [...]

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

By |2019-03-07T08:53:33+00:00April 19th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , , |

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 the [...]

IRAS, ANNUITIES AND GUARDIANSHIP: PROVIDING FOR YOUR MINOR CHILDREN AFTER YOU DIE

By |2019-03-07T08:52:27+00:00April 16th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , , |

Deciding on a guardian for your minor children may very well be the most vexing decision you’ll make regarding your estate planning. Not only must you trust the appointed guardian to raise your children as you’d want them raised, but you also need that person to be financially responsible with your children’s inheritance. For example, if you have an IRA or an annuity that you wish to pass to your minor children, how can you ensure those funds will be used properly—especially if the person you trust most to raise your kids isn’t necessarily the best with finances? This question is [...]

HELP! THIS PROBATE IS TAKING FOREVER!!!

By |2019-03-07T10:13:20+00:00April 9th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , |

After a loved one dies, her estate must be settled. While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 18 and 24 months. Yes, you heard that right. The time delays create unnecessary stress. 5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long There are many reasons why probating a will takes so long. Here are five of the most common: Managing probate required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines. Estates with numerous or complicated assets simply take longer to probate as there are more items to be accounted for and [...]

WHY A SPENDTHRIFT TRUST CAN BE A GREAT SOLUTION FOR YOUR HEIRS

By |2019-03-07T09:22:10+00:00April 2nd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , , |

There are many tools that can be used when putting together your estate plan. One such tool is a trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement, established by a grantor or trustmaker, which gives a third party (known as a trustee) the authority to manage assets on behalf of one or more persons (known as a beneficiaries).  Since every situation is different, there are different types of trusts to ensure the best outcome for each beneficiary. One type of trust, known as a spendthrift trust, is commonly used to protect a beneficiary’s interest from creditors, a soon-to-be ex-spouse, or his [...]

PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE WHEN YOU ARE DIVORCED

By |2019-03-07T09:19:35+00:00March 29th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , |

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 is [...]

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: QUESTIONS FOR PROSPECTIVE WILLS AND TRUSTS ATTORNEYS

By |2019-03-07T09:15:50+00:00March 26th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

It goes without saying that estate planning is incredibly important and is more than just having a will or a trust. Estate planning offers a sense of security for you and your loved ones that your wishes will be carried out.With such an important and personal endeavor, selecting the right Wills and Trusts Attorney is crucial. Doing your homework, familiarizing yourself with the options and asking questions will be critical to getting someone who’s actively looking out for your interests. There are several key factors you should consider when interviewing potential attorneys and ultimately deciding which one to hire. Funding [...]

IRREVOCABLE TRUST DECANTING IN 4 STEPS

By |2019-03-07T12:43:14+00:00March 5th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , |

We all need a “do over” from time to time. Life changes, the law changes, and professionals learn to do things in better ways. Change is a fact of life – and the law. Unfortunately, many folks think they’re stuck with an irrevocable trust. After all, if the trust can be revoked, why call it “irrevocable”? Good question. Fortunately, irrevocable trusts can be changed and one way to make that change is to decant the original trust. Decanting is a “do over.” Funds from an existing trust (with less favorable terms) are distributed to a new trust (with more favorable [...]

NOT JUST DEATH AND TAXES: 5 ESSENTIAL LEGAL DOCUMENTS YOU NEED FOR INCAPACITY PLANNING

By |2019-03-07T12:39:34+00:00February 5th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , , , |

Comprehensive estate planning is more than your legacy after death, avoiding probate, and saving on taxes. Good estate planning includes a plan in place to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated during your life and can no longer make decisions for yourself. What happens without an incapacity plan? Without a comprehensive incapacity plan in place, your family will have to go to court to get a judge to appoint a guardian or conservator to take control of your assets and health care decisions. This guardian or conservator will make all personal and medical decisions on your behalf as part [...]

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ESTATE PLANNING IN 2018

By |2019-03-07T12:38:32+00:00January 8th, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , |

2017 is now fading into the rearview mirror. As we all look ahead to 2018, let’s consider a few things to watch regarding estate planning, so you and your family can be completely protected. The death tax. The death tax has been in a state of flux ever since the early 2000s when the Bush administration’s first tax cuts changed the exemption and tax rates. The recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the latest significant change. Starting January 1, 2018, the estate tax exemption amount will double to $11.2 million per person (married couples have $22.4 million of combined exemption). [...]

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE (WITHOUT A CRYSTAL BALL)

By |2019-03-07T12:36:10+00:00September 27th, 2017|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Creating a will, trust, or any type of estate plan has always involved dealing with an uncertain future. Consider that just 20 years ago in 1997, the estate tax had an astonishing 55% rate with only a $600,000 exemption. Back then, tax-driven estate planning was a mathematical necessity for a large segment of the population. Fast forward to 2017. Not only do we now have a generous $5.49 million exemption and a lower 40% rate, we also have renewed emphasis and action from the President and Congress on repealing the estate tax, as evidenced by the September 27, 2017 Unified Framework [...]