Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property This Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit Your Own Children

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?

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 [...]

Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance When You are Divorced

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 [...]

How to Leave Your Life Insurance and Retirement Plan to Your Minor Children

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

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)

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 [...]

Finding the Right Fit: Questions for Prospective Wills and Trusts Attorneys

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. [...]

By |2021-09-21T18:22:27+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning, Trusts, wwPROBATE|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Why a Spendthrift Trust Can Be a Great Solution for Your Heirs

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 [...]

What to Expect from Estate Planning in 2018

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T21:47:51+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

IRAs, Annuities, and Guardianship – Providing for Your Minor Children After You Die

IRAs, Annuities and Guardianship: Providing for Your Minor Children after You Die 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 [...]

Planning for the Future Without a Crystal Ball

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, [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:14:31+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Declare Your Independence from Court Interference!

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 [...]

Help! This Probate Is Taking Forever!!!

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:23:28+00:00April 9th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

Irrevocable Trust Decanting in 4 Steps

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:42:02+00:00March 5th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Not Just Death and Taxes: 5 Essential Legal Documents You Need for Incapacity Planning

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 [...]

How to Protect Your Child’s Inheritance from His or Her Untrustworthy Spouse

Parents who develop an estate plan often do so to provide for their heirs financially. Many want to make sure hard-earned assets, family heirlooms, or closely held businesses stay within the family. Indeed, a common question is what cost effective options are available to protect one’s children’s inheritance from a spouse in the event of untrustworthiness or divorce. Thankfully, there are many ways to structure your child’s inheritance to help ensure it will remain in the family for future generations. Let’s look at a few of the options now. Create a Trust A trust involves three parties: (1) the person creating [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:24:46+00:00June 6th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Estate Planning for Military Families

Although Memorial Day just passed, it is important to honor those that have served our country. This time is also a good opportunity for members of the military and their loved ones to consider setting up an – or revising an existing – estate plan. Military families need to consider special estate-planning issues that others do not. This is particularly true when one or more family members are deployed overseas. Beyond this, members of the military have access to special benefits and resources. This can become complicated and, for this reason, it is important that you seek special help if you [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:25:49+00:00May 30th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

How Your Trust Can Help a Loved One Who Struggles with Addiction

Substance addiction is by no means rare, impacting as many as one in seven Americans. Because of its prevalence, navigating a loved one’s addiction is actually a relatively common topic in everyday life. But you should also consider it when working on your estate planning. Whether the addiction is alcoholism, drug abuse, or behavioral like gambling, we all want our loved ones to be safe and experience a successful recovery.  A properly created estate plan can help. The idea that money from a trust could end up fueling those addictive behaviors can be a particularly troubling one. Luckily, it’s possible to frame [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:27:04+00:00May 2nd, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

How a Community Property Trust Could Save You from Heavy Taxation Down the Road

When it comes to your family’s legacy, every dollar you can save from tax collection counts. One way to keep your assets out of the hands of the IRS is the formation of community property trusts. How does a community property trust (CPT) work? CPTs save you money on taxes by adjusting or “stepping up” the basis of the entire property after the death of one member of the couple. When you and your spouse invest in property jointly — be it real estate, stocks, or other assets — it becomes what’s called community property if you live within nine [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:28:24+00:00April 28th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Another 3 Famous Pet Trust Cases and the Lessons We Can Learn from Them

Things don’t always go according to plan. On the other hand, sometimes pet owners can get a bit creative when providing for their pets. Let’s take a look now at 3 famous cases involving pet trusts and distill important lessons from them. David Harper and Red David Harper, a wealthy, reclusive bachelor in Ottawa, Canada, wasn’t exactly famous during his life. In his death, however, he made headlines by reportedly leaving his entire $1.1 million dollar estate to his tabby cat, Red. Just to make sure his wishes were carried out, Harper actually bequeathed the fortune to the United Church [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:29:06+00:00November 15th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments
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