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Estate Planning Insights

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

Long gone are the days when trusts were only for the rich and famous.  Why?  Because creating a revocable living trust is less about estate tax and more about avoiding unnecessary costs of probate and asset transfer, and creating protections for your loved ones.  A properly drafted and funded trust can also deliver an inheritance with valuable creditor and predator protections.


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Are You Single?

More than half of all adults in America are single.  It is common to hear singles say they don’t have many assets, so having a will or other estate planning documents are not necessary.  Consider that modern estate planning is less about money, and more about control.  Whether single, married, divorced or widowed,  with or without children, most people want to control their life while they are alive, and then choose who will be in control should they become disabled. They also want to leave what assets they do have, to whom they want, while not leaving behind a legal mess for family members to unravel.

Whether you have children or not, the following are important estate planning issues for singles to consider: 


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Thursday, April 27, 2017

No Estate Plan? You Are Not Alone.

Would you be surprised to learn that as many as 60% of all American adults have no estate plan in place?  The distribution of their property, the care and custody of their minor children and the identification of who directs the administration of their estate is left to the default laws of intestate succession created by your state.  So in simple terms:  if you do not have a will or trust, your state will make all your decisions for you.  


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Your College Student and Access to Medical Info

It’s the time of  year that brings high school seniors news of college acceptances. After 18 years of living under mom and dad’s roof,  your “baby” is moving away.  It’s an exciting time for kids, but an emotional time for parents.  You know how much you will miss your child, and distance won’t keep you from worrying about their well-being.  It’s no surprise that you wonder, “Have I done all that I can to keep them safe?”

Many parents are stunned to discover that in medical emergencies they may not be entitled to  information about their college-aged children. Why? Because in the eyes of the law, your 18-year old is an adult.  Legally, parents have no standing to know or do anything.


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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Life Can Change in an Instant

This post is a bit  more philosophical than what you are accustomed to reading on our blog.  But as I began to explore topics for our next entry, a news text alerted me to a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. A later notification revealed that 5 people were killed, and others are injured.  It happened in the Delta baggage claim area where, what seemed like just a very short time ago, I picked up my son and his fiance' after they flew on a Delta flight from Minnesota.  And while I do not personally know any of the victims, a tragedy so close to home, at a place I pass through frequently, is especially difficult to deal with.  The people in Terminal 2 were beginning or returning from vacation, meeting friends or loved ones, or simply spending what they thought would be another day at work.  They were living their lives.  And they had no idea that this would be their last day on this earth.


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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Estate Planning is a Team Sport

Often when I meet with new clients, I discover that they may like to do things by themselves.  By investing online at E-Trade, or using Turbo Tax in lieu of a CPA for their returns, they are saving time and not “wasting” money.  Purchase insurance or an IRA without an agent?  Easy to do.  And through the extensive marketing of sites such as Legal Zoom, you can now download a will, trust, and advance legal directives.  Why hire someone when you can do it by yourself, for less?

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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Promises We Keep

We all make promises, be they solemn (“till death do us part”) or playful (“there are no monsters under the bed.”)  Many promises define our character and reinforce our relationships with those we love.  As a new year approaches, promises traditionally take the form of resolutions. Perhaps your 2017 resolutions include adding regular exercise to your daily routine, or eating a diet that contains more fruits and vegetables. This year, why not add to your list of resolutions the promise of protecting those you love? 

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Some Thoughts on Legacy

Legacy means so much more than the assets we leave behind in the form of an inheritance.  Most of us never give much thought to what our legacy might be.  We think about a will, or trust, that carefully lays out how our property is distributed after we are gone.  It’s usually about our “stuff.” 

Interestingly, studies on adults and their inheritances may surprise and disappoint you.  The Journal of Family and Economic Issues reported that adults who receive an inheritance save only half of what they receive.  Other studies point to statistics showing virtually all money or property left to love ones in the form of an inheritance is consumed within 14-17 months.  So thinking in terms of money and property, a legacy has a very short shelf life.  With that in mind, let’s explore other ways to leave a legacy that will live on long after you are gone.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Avoiding Probate: Debunking Common Myths

You likely know that probate administration is expensive, time consuming and public. Yet, there are commonly held misconceptions surrounding this topic which lead many to make uniformed decisions resulting in the need to have an estate probated. While the best way to avoid probate is to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney, let’s take a look at just a few probate and estate planning myths:

I’ll leave my home to my children through a will to avoid probateThis is the most common of all the estate planning myths!  The truth is that inherited property cannot be retitled, or sold, without the participation and approval of the probate court, which requires probate administration for the deceased. 


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Talking About Death

Sooner or later we all die.   It will happen to me, and as upsetting as it may be to think about, it will happen to you, too.  It’s a fact.   We don’t know when or how death will occur. We hope the end comes peacefully when we are very old, surrounded by those we love, having lived a long and good life.  No one lives forever.  And although death is part of life, most people find the topic very difficult to think about and especially hard to discuss with others.

Talking about what will happen to your family when you pass away can be a very emotional subject.  And as with all emotionally-charged subjects, it is often easier to ignore.  Or think about later.   Is estate planning on your “to do” list?  Perhaps you are  superstitious.  Can just talking about something make it more likely to happen?  


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Friday, September 2, 2016

Simple Estate Planning You Can Do Yourself

Effective estate planning is more about advice and counsel than completing forms.  Downloading a fillable document seems like a very easy and low cost way to obtain a will, trust, durable power of attorney, or other estate planning document.  However, keep in mind that estate planning without an attorney’s counsel may end up hurting your family at the very time you need your estate plan to work.  So while we caution against do-it-yourself estate planning, there are definitely steps you can take by yourself.   One of the simplest and most important things that you should do, no matter your age or marital status, is to verify that assets and beneficiaries are properly titled, and that all beneficiaries are identified. 

Let’s consider the following all-too-common scenarios, based on recent calls to our office.


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