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Why Does a Living Trust Cost More than a Will?

Posted on: December 7th, 2018
It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die....

How to Choose a Trustee

Posted on: November 8th, 2018
When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee basically 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....

How to Leave Assets to Adult Children

Posted on: October 8th, 2018
When considering how to leave assets to adult children, the first step is to decide how much each one should receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this doesn't necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of the estate. For example, it may be desirable to give more to a child who is a teacher than to one who has a successful business, or to compensate a child who has been a primary caregiver....

What and When Should You Tell Your Children About Their Inheritance?

Posted on: September 5th, 2018
Not many parents like to talk to their children about their wealth. How much money people have is usually considered a private matter, something it's not polite to talk about. But not talking to children about how much they may inherit can leave them unprepared to handle even a modest amount....

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Posted on: August 3rd, 2018
In first marriages, the couple generally has the same goals when it comes to their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then whatever is left will go to the children. They may own many of their assets jointly and, at the death of the first spouse, more than likely everything will go to the surviving spouse just as they had planned. But second marriages (after divorce or death of the first spouse) are different....

Planning For Incapacity and Long-Term Care

Posted on: July 9th, 2018
With people living longer due to advances in medicine and changes in lifestyle, odds are that most of us will become disabled for some time before we die and may need long-term care. Unfortunately, too few plan for an event that is more likely to be a probability than a possibility--and the consequences of not planning can be disastrous for all involved....

Organize Information for Your Family

Posted on: June 4th, 2018
Think for a few moments about what would happen if you suddenly became incapacitated or died. Would your spouse or family know what to do? Would they know where to find important records, assets and insurance documents? Would they be able to access (or even know about) online accounts or files on your computer? Would they know whom to ask if they need help? Putting the effort in now to establish a formal document inventory can alleviate unnecessary anxiety and turmoil in the future....

Providing for Your Parents in Your Estate Plan

Posted on: May 1st, 2018
If you are part of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), you may also find that you are a member of the sandwich generation, with responsibilities to both your parents (now or in the future) and your children. This should change the way you think about estate planning--instead of the traditional approach of how to leave assets to your children and future generations, you may also need to include providing for the previous generation (your parents)....

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Child(ren)

Posted on: April 2nd, 2018
Parents with minor children need to name someone to raise them (a guardian) in the event both parents should die before the child becomes an adult. While the likelihood of that actually happening is slim, the consequences of not naming a guardian are great....

How to Choose a Trustee

Posted on: March 2nd, 2018
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....

How to Make a Family Meeting a Successful Part of the Estate Planning Process

Posted on: February 2nd, 2018
You've made the hard decisions, your documents are signed, your trust is funded, a business succession plan is in place. Congratulations, you've finished your estate planning. But have you, really? Have you explained your planning to your family? Will they understand how your plan will work and what they may need to do if you become ill or when you die? Will they wonder why you made certain decisions?...

The Value of Having a "Plan" in Estate Planning

Posted on: January 5th, 2018
All too often, estate planning is viewed as a transaction: a will, a living trust, powers of attorney, etc. But the best planning happens when the professional can get to know the client on a deeper level, to uncover hopes, dreams and aspirations....

Young Adults Need Estate Planning, Too

Posted on: November 21st, 2017
Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Learning you cannot see your college student's grades without his/her permission can be mildly frustrating. But a medical emergency can take this frustration to a completely different level. The parents (or a sibling or another person) will probably have to go to court and ask for permission to obtain information about the student's medical condition, be able to make decisions about treatment, and have access to the student's financial records and accounts. ...

Inspection Contingency Explained

Posted on: July 19th, 2017
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Who Should Be Your Successor Trustee?

Posted on: March 4th, 2014
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. The Successor Trustee plays an important role in the effective execution of your estate plan....

The Truth About Personal Risk Management, Part 2: Using Trusts in Estate Planning

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013
Paying insurance premiums to protect against potential losses frees us mentally to enjoy driving a car, leave our house empty while on vacation and receive medical treatment for an injury or illness. In the same way, the use of trusts acts like insurance and can shift anxiety to comfort, turmoil to peace, and complexity to understanding....

The Truth About Personal Risk Management, Part 1: Insurance

Posted on: August 1st, 2013
Personal risk management is being aware of the risks in your home and in your life, and then planning how to handle those risks. Insurance plays a big part in managing risk. Most people don't like paying insurance premiums, but when something happens and the insurance pays for a covered expense, they are relieved they had it....

Should You Disinherit a Child?

Posted on: May 14th, 2013
Most parents choose to leave their estates equally to their children. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to a child. Regardless of the reason, disinheriting a child wide ranging effects....

What to Do with an Inherited IRA

Posted on: April 2nd, 2013
IRAs are among the largest assets inherited by heirs and beneficiaries. These accounts have been able to grow to such large amounts because income taxes are deferred until the owner begins to take distributions, usually after reaching age 70 1/2 . Those who inherit an IRA must be very careful to follow the rules, which are complicated and often confusing. It is possible to keep an account growing tax-deferred for decades, but an innocent error can cause the recipient to lose the tax-deferred advantage and force her to pay tax now on the entire account balance...

How to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Posted on: February 15th, 2013
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results....

Estate Planning in 2013 and Beyond under the New Tax Law

Posted on: February 1st, 2013
The recent tax legislation dealing with the 'fiscal cliff' included significant revisions to the estate tax law that will affect estate planning for the foreseeable future. These revisions include:...

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: January 15th, 2013
Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don't think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible. ...

Life Insurance: How Much and What Kind?

Posted on: December 17th, 2012
Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, spouse, a sibling, aging parents and others if we should die while they are depending on us. Life insurance proceeds can provide extra income to help pay ongoing household bills and child care; pay off a mortgage, credit cards and other debt; pay for college; and pay funeral costs and other final expenses. (Life insurance also plays a vital role in business succession planning and it has numerous applications in estate planning.)...

Planning Opportunities Available to All Families

Posted on: December 3rd, 2012
With the $5.12 million per person exemption from federal estate tax ($10.24 million for married couples), most of the estate planning 'talk' recently has been on the planning opportunities available to affluent families. However, the need for estate planning remains for everyone....

10 Things To Do Before the End of This Year

Posted on: November 15th, 2012
The end of the year will be here before we know it. But there is still time to meet some major estate planning goals. Here are ten things to do before the end of 2012....

Get Ready for These Five New Taxes on January 1, 2013

Posted on: October 1st, 2012
Now that the health care law has been declared constitutional, several significant provisions will become effective on January 1, 2013....

Estate Planning After Divorce

Posted on: September 17th, 2012
One area that is often overlooked in the divorce process is the need to update estate planning. Most people would agree that their ex-spouse is the last person they want to inherit their assets when they die or to have that person make life and death decisions for them. But that is exactly what can happen, and often does, when these documents are not updated....

Treating Children Fairly Does Not Necessarily Mean Equally

Posted on: September 3rd, 2012
Most parents want to treat their children fairly in their estate planning, and many assume that means having their children inherit equally. But fair does not necessarily mean equal. There may be special circumstances to consider....

Four More Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: August 15th, 2012
Here are four more common mistakes in estate planning. If your plan is in place and current, this will serve as more validation that you are on the right track. Feel free to share this information with friends and family members, especially those who may not have a plan in place....

The Many Needs for Life Insurance in Our Lives

Posted on: August 1st, 2012
The main reasons most people have life insurance are to pay final expenses (medical, funeral, burial, etc.), replace an income stream and/or create wealth for our dependents after we die. Life insurance can also play an important role in business, estate planning and charitable giving....

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on: July 16th, 2012
From time to time, it's good to review why having a complete, up-to-date estate plan is so important. In addition to confirming our own actions, it can provide us with valuable information to pass along to friends and family who, for whatever reasons, have yet to act. So, here are five common estate planning mistakes to avoid....

Paying for College . . . and accomplishing estate planning too

Posted on: July 2nd, 2012
With higher education costs outpacing inflation by 5-6% per year, and the average cost of a four-year public school at nearly $20,000 per year (double that for private schools) it's no surprise that many parents and grandparents are deeply concerned about how they will pay for higher education. Many of these clients are similarly concerned about estate planning....

Estate Planning Today Must Include Digital Assets and Social Media

Posted on: June 15th, 2012
It wasn't very long ago that we had only paper for financial and tax records. We could simply point to a file cabinet or drawer and tell someone, 'Everything is in there when the time comes.' But now we have computers and the internet, and so much of our lives is online. Unless we include our digital assets and social media in our estate planning, our family or administrator may not be able to find critical documents....

Online and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning

Posted on: June 1st, 2012
With the number of online and do-it-yourself (DIY) legal providers continuing to grow, some of individuals may be wondering if they could do their estate planning themselves. The advertising is seductive: attorneys use similar forms, the cost is significantly less than hiring an attorney, and many of these websites and kits are created by attorneys. In addition, most people think their estates are not complicated, and many think they are just as smart as (or smarter than) professionals....

Potential Problems with Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: May 1st, 2012
Many people use beneficiary designations, and for good reason. Some significant assets, including life insurance policies, IRAs, retirement plans and even bank accounts, allow a beneficiary to be named. It's free, it's easy, and, when the owner dies, these assets are designed to be paid directly to the individual(s) named as beneficiary, outside of probate. But that is not always what happens. ...

Blended Families Underscore the Need for Estate Planning

Posted on: April 13th, 2012
Anyone with children or modest assets should seriously consider some minimal estate planning, but the increasing number of blended families underscores the need for proper estate planning....

Advance Directives/Living Wills are a Critical Component of Estate Planning

Posted on: April 6th, 2012
March 31, 2012 marked the seventh anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old who succumbed after her feeding tube was removed as part of a very public legal battle between her husband and parents. This anniversary reminds us all how important it is to have health care directives in place....

Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal

Posted on: March 5th, 2012
On February 13, 2012, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2012. This budget contains several long-standing proposals ' as well as some new ones ' that would impact estate planning significantly. ...

The Most Important Love Letters You'll Ever Write?

Posted on: February 20th, 2012
Many Americans have the misperception that estate planning is simply preparing for one's death and is only necessary for the affluent. To the contrary, estate planning is as much about passing values to loved ones as it is about passing material possessions....

Create successful wealth transfers with open communication

Posted on: January 16th, 2012
"70% of intergenerational wealth transfers fail." Open and honest communication between family members may help put you in the 30% of successful wealth transfers....

2012 Resolutions

Posted on: December 30th, 2011
As 2012 approaches it's time again for New Year's resolutions. According to Forbes, there are 12 resolutions we should all make ' and 'plan your estate' is number two....

No Super Committee Action: Now What?

Posted on: December 9th, 2011
Now that the so-called 'super committee' failed to agree on spending cuts and/or revenue gains to reduce the deficit, what's next? What does this mean for the estate and gift tax law?...

Super Committee Proposals Estate & Gift Tax

Posted on: November 30th, 2011
Rumors abound as to what the Super Committee will recommend for the estate and gift tax, if anything. And at this point no one knows what the future holds in this area. That said, we do know that the deadline for the Super Committee's proposal, November 23, 2011, is rapidly approaching....